The ACLU is a non-profit organization dedicated to working daily in courts, legislatures and communities across America to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. Since 1920, we have been dedicated to defending and expanding the civil liberties of all Americans. The ACLU has staffed offices in all 50 states, along with Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Our work is sustained entirely by the membership dues and donations of our nearly 500,000 active members nationwide. Across the country, the ACLU has more than 200 staff attorneys who collaborate with thousands of volunteer attorneys in countless civil liberties cases each year, making the ACLU the largest public interest law firm in the nation. The ACLU appears before the U.S. Supreme Court more than any other organization except the U.S. Department of Justice.
The civil liberties we defend include:
- Your First Amendment rights - freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
- Your right to equal protection under the law - protection against unlawful discrimination.
- Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
- Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
The ACLU also works to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities. If the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled.
What is the ACLU of South Dakota?
The ACLU of South Dakota, a national chapter of the ACLU, is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights.
We believe that the freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.
In addition, the ACLU of SD seeks to advance constitutional protections for
groups that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; and lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for people of South Dakota.
Who We Are
We are organized as a private, non-profit, membership organization with active members throughout the state and a staff of two located in our office in Sioux Falls, SD.
What We Do
It's difficult to define civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU works on many different issues through a variety of strategies. For more information about the types of cases we typically represent in South Dakota, as well as the types of issues we almost never assist with, please view these sections under the Assistance tab.
How We Do It
When you hear about the ACLU in the news, it is often related to our work in the courts. That work, while important, is only part of what we do. We also:
Lobby actively at the local, state, and national levels to prevent the passage of laws that would undermine civil liberties, and we support the passage of laws that would enhance civil rights and personal liberties.
We review all proposed ballot initiatives filed in South Dakota and monitor those that would have an impact on civil liberties and civil rights. We have helped coordinate many ballot measure campaigns.
With the assistance of volunteer lawyers, we provide legal assistance in cases that will establish precedent on important civil liberties and civil rights principals. We occasionally provide direct representation to individuals or organizations whose rights are jeopardized by government actions.
We do educational outreach designed to inform the public on specific issues affecting civil rights and liberties. We do public speaking, publish briefing papers on specific issues, work with the news media and maintain a website with updates about issues we are currently working on.
- A non-governmental, non-profit, independent organization
- A membership organization that anyone can join for $20/yr. Join now!
- An advocacy organization that uses its work in the courts to breathe life into the promises of the Bill of Rights.
- An organization that will criticize politicians from any political party if their actions compromise civil liberties or civil rights.
- An organization that fights for the right of everyone to speak their message—even those whose message we detest.
- An organization that even our political enemies respect because we take consistent stands based on policies developed over the past 90 years.
- An organization that educates the public about the threats to civil liberties and civil rights.
- An organization that changes policy in a very deliberate manner.
- An organization that works with coalitions where the issues support/advance civil liberties and civil rights.
We are NOT...
- A government agency
- A lawyers group
- A legal services provider. ACLU gets involved in only a few court cases. We do not accept individual cases unless they will either establish new legal precedents or protect civil liberties under attack.
- A partisan political organization. ACLU does not support or oppose candidates for elective office.
- A legal aid office. We do not consider the income or ability to pay for services when considering accepting a case, and we represent clients from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
- An organization that changes its policies when lobbying government agencies just to suit a particular popular agenda.
- An organization that chooses issues purely on shock value.
- An organization that changes policies easily/lightly in response to pressure.
- An organization that always agrees with its allies, supporters, members or coalitions.
- An organization that has members who vote directly on ACLU policy.