Request Assistance from the ACLU of Oregon

The ACLU of Oregon receives thousands of requests for assistance each year, but because of limited resources only a small percentage actually become ACLU cases. We are unable to take many cases, even those concerning real injustices. If your complaint is not pursued by our office, it does not mean it is without merit.

During the Covid-19 pandemic our capacity is severely limited. In order to keep our responses timely, we ask that if you have a legal request you use our online legal request form. We aim to read and respond to every request in a timely fashion and with specific referrals, however, this process is quite time consuming. If you are facing an upcoming court date or similar deadline, you should continue to seek legal assistance elsewhere while we investigate your complaint. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

Click here to submit a legal request.

Read our COVID-19 resource page.

Learn more about how we take cases below. 

I.Types of Cases we Litigate
II. Types of Cases we do not Litigate
III. Suggested Contacts

I. Types of cases we litigate

Please review this important information and you will be prompted to provide the information about your request.

Before accepting a case, the ACLU Foundation of Oregon considers if the case raises a civil liberties or civil rights issue

Civil liberties include freedom of speech, press, religion, and association; due process; equal protection; and privacy. Civil rights include, for example, voting rights; discrimination based on disability, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or national origin, and police reform.

Because of the nature of civil liberties claims, only rarely does the ACLU Foundation of Oregon take a case that does not involve the government.

How likely is it that a court will reach the civil liberties issue?

Generally, the ACLU takes cases that do not involve complicated disputes of fact, and prefers cases that involve questions of law only. An example of a factual dispute is an employment discrimination case in which the employer claims he fired the employee because of poor job performance and has credible evidence to support that claim, but the employee disputes the evidence and has credible evidence of her own. Because employment claims are usually very fact dependent, it is not often that the ACLU Foundation of Oregon takes this kind of case.

We often decide not to accept cases involving factual disputes because: (1) if a court resolves the facts against the client, it may never reach the civil liberties or civil rights issues; (2) if the decision rests upon the specific facts of a case, the case is less likely to have broad impact on many people; and (3) we have so few volunteer and staff attorneys that it is difficult for us to devote attorney time to resolving factual disputes.

The potential impact, including:
•    Will the case set a civil liberties precedent?
•    Will the case strengthen an existing but ignored precedent?
•    What are the prospects of success and the risks of losing?
•    How likely is the issue to recur?
•    What educational opportunities does the case present?

The allocation of resources, including:

What costs and administrative burdens will the case impose in relation to available ACLU Foundation of Oregon staff and funds?

Are volunteer attorneys available?

II. The ACLU Foundation of Oregon does not generally accept this kind of case:

  • A person has been fired from a job without a good reason or just cause;
  • Domestic matters (divorce, child custody, wills, etc.);
  • A person is being denied benefits, such as workers' compensation, unemployment benefits, or Social Security;
  • Landlord / tenant disputes;
  • Immigration matters; and,
  • Criminal cases or complaints about a person’s attorney in a criminal case -- the ACLU considers accepting criminal cases only in limited instances, such as, for example, when a person is being prosecuted for engaging in activity protected by the Constitution - such as participating in a political demonstration or where the statute or ordinance under which the person is charged is subject to constitutional attack.

Please consider the above before filing a complaint. Even if your complaint falls within the above guidelines, filing a complaint does not guarantee that the ACLU Foundation of Oregon will provide legal assistance. Please expect to wait up 60 days before receiving a response.

Click here if you would like to file a legal request with the ACLU of Oregon

III. ACLU of Oregon's Suggested Contact List:

Attorney Complaints
Attorney Referrals
Civil Rights Complaints
Judge Complaints