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Guidelines for Acceptance of Cases

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Guidelines for Acceptance of Cases:

American Civil Liberties Union
Northwestern Pa. Chapter

Please understand that the ACLU is a voluntary organization of limited purpose and scope. Generally speaking, it serves to protect citizens' rights under the 1st, 10th, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution and can not immediately intervene in legal matters. Complaints that constitutional rights have been violated need to be made early, before a person expects some bad consequence, e.g., a court order is to be immediately issued.

  1. Has a substantial constitutional right been invaded? Examples of constitutional rights include: right of privacy, the right to due process, the right of free expression, freedom of religion, freedom fromestablishment of religion: the right to be free from racial and sexual discrimination.

  2. Is the invasion being done by a governmental entity, i.e., not a private company or individual? We cannot help with private disputes.

  3. Is the individual whose rights are being invaded without any resources with which to protect his or her rights? By other resources, we are referring to financial resources or privately provided legal assistance or other governmental bodies or units which are supposed to protect one’s rights.

The ACLU of N.W. Pa. requests that applicants for ACLU assistance consider these criteria. If the applicant thinks he or she has a case fitting these criteria, he or she should submit a written complaint to the ACLU. The submission should be specific as to names of persons policies, etc. complained about, dates of important actions, possible witnesses and may contain brief documentary evidence of the main points.

The ACLU intake person who receives the complaint will review it briefly and bring it to the attention of the Legal Committee. The Legal Committee will review the complaint in detail and make a recommendation to the board on whether to take the case or not.

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