What are civil rights?
Civil rights provide basic freedoms to individuals and seek to achieve the equal enjoyment of rights and privileges. Civil rights manifest in various forms. One civil right is the entitlement to equal treatment, or equal protection of law, regardless of an individual's membership in a protected category. This civil right covers protection from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, age, and disability, among other things. Civil rights also include various personal freedoms, such as the right to privacy, to free speech, to vote, to partake in political action, and to peacefully protest. Additionally, civil rights encompass the right to receive due process and, for those suspected of a crime, to receive a fair investigation and trial.
Civil rights overlap with civil liberties. Civil liberties can, however, be distinguished from civil rights in that civil liberties largely encompass those rights which protect against the infringement by government upon personal freedoms, such as the right to religious freedom and the freedom of speech.
What laws protect civil rights?
In the United States, the federal Constitution is the preeminent source of civil rights. States may grant civil rights in their own Constitutions or through legislation; however, they can only be more expansive, and may not in any way reduce federal civil rights protection.
The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments ratified to the Constitution in 1791, contains the earliest civil rights protections. Examples include the freedom of speech (U.S. Const. Am. 1), freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures (U.S. Const. Am. 4), the right to due process (U.S. Const. Am. 5), and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment (U.S. Const. Am. 8).
The Constitution did not address discrimination until the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, following the Civil War during the Reconstruction. The oldest civil rights protections, the Bill of Rights, were not only limited in scope (offering no protection against discrimination), but were also limited in application. The Bill of Rights was only applied to a segment of the population, and did not guarantee the equal enjoyment of civil rights by minorities, women, and, sometimes, non-property-owning individuals. Even after the passage of the 13th-15th Amendments, the Supreme Court's restrictive interpretation of related federal legislation severely undermined achievement of equal protection and due process.
Although women received the right to vote in 1920 (U.S. Const. Am. 19), they, along with other minorities, did not enjoy their full entitlement to civil rights until decades later, after Congress passed additional federal civil rights legislation. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's-60's, Congress enacted some of the most important civil rights laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Unlike the federal legislation passed during Reconstruction to implement the 13th-15th Amendments, the Supreme Court repeatedly upheld the new civil rights legislation. Supreme Court cases, such as Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (overruling the "separate-but-equal" doctrine upheld in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), as well as federal enforcement of new civil rights laws, were instrumental in achieving greater enjoyment of civil rights.
Beginning in the 1970's, federal and state governments, as well as private entities, established affirmative action programs to eradicate the effects of discrimination. The Supreme Court, however, beginning with the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978) (holding unlawful white applicant's exclusion from medical school on grounds applicant was disfavored on basis of race), has struck down many of these programs as unconstitutional discrimination.
DeLeon et al v. Perry et al
October 28, 2013
Defendant: Rick Perry, David Lakey, Greg Abbott and othersPlaintiff: Victor Holmes, Nicole Dimetman, Cleopatra DeLeon and othersCause Of Action: Civil Rights Act
- Islamic Center of Murfreesboro et al v. Rutherford County, Tennessee July 18, 2012Defendant: Rutherford County, TennesseePlaintiff: Islamic Center of Murfreesboro , Ossama BahloulCause Of Action: Federal Question: Other Civil Rights
- United States of America v. Maricopa, County of et al May 10, 2012Plaintiff: United States of AmericaDefendant: Maricopa, County of , Maricopa County Sheriff's Office , Joseph M ArpaioMovant: Scott Huminski, Jonathan Lee RichesCause Of Action: Federal Question: Other Civil Rights
- Deandra Grant v. National College for DUI Defense et al April 13, 2012Defendant: National College for DUI Defense, DoesPlaintiff: Okorie Okorocha, Deandra Grant
- Nooner et al v. El Dorado Union High School District, et al September 7, 2011Plaintiff: Pamela Nooner , Ronald NoonerDefendant: El Dorado Union High School District , Ponderosa High School Bruin Den Football and Cheer Booster Club, Christopher Moore and othersCause Of Action: Civil Rights Act
Sealed v. Sealed
July 28, 2014
- Sealed v. Sealed July 28, 2014
- Sealed v. Sealed July 28, 2014
- Sealed v. Sealed July 28, 2014
- Daniels v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration July 27, 2014
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- Bill Enacted: H.R. 3547: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 January 16, 2014 Making consolidated appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, and for other purposes.January 17, 2014: Became Public Law No: 113-76.
- Bill Introduced: S. 3712: A bill to make a technical correction in the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. November 19, 2008 A bill to make a technical correction in the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.
- Bill Sent To President: H.R. 1424: Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 October 2, 2008 To amend section 712 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, section 2705 of the Public Health Service Act, and section 9812 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require equity in the provision of mental health and
- Bill Sent To President: S. 3406: ADA Amendments Act of 2008 September 16, 2008 A bill to restore the intent and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.September 17, 2008: Cleared for White House.
- Notice - Sunshine Act Meetings; Correction July 15, 2014 The National Council on Disability published a notice in the Federal Register of July 8, 2014, concerning a meeting of the Council. This document contains a correction to the start time of the meeting.
- Notice - Sunshine Act Meetings July 8, 2014
- Notice - Agency Information Collection Activities: Existing Collection June 30, 2014 In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission) announces that it intends to submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a request for a three-year extension without change of
- Proposed Rule - The Federal Sector's Obligation To Be a Model Employer of Individuals With Disabilities May 15, 2014 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (``EEOC'' or ``Commission'') is issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to invite the public to comment on how it can amend its regulations to clarify the federal government's obligation to be a
- Notice - ``Add Us In'' Initiative August 10, 2011 The Office of Disability Employment Policy, Department of Labor is correcting the New Notice of Availability of Funds and Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) for Cooperative Agreements published in the Federal Register on August 4, 2011 at 76
- The Relationship between Cultural Intelligence and Transformational Leadership Among Managers II July 28, 2014 James Box
- Legal Framing July 27, 2014 61 Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, 25, 2013, Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1272
- Desirability of Commodification of Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Unsatisfying Role of Intellectual Property Rights July 27, 2014 Transnational Dispute Management, Special Issue, Volume 11, Issue 2, March 2014
- On Law , Organizations and Social Movements July 27, 2014 6 Annu. Rev. Law Soc. Sci. 653 (2010), Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1273
- Putting Intent in Its Place: A New Direction for Title VII July 22, 2014 CALIFORNIA LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW REVIEW, July 2014, at 8, UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 14-12
- Fair housing groups say bill attacks civil rights, erodes state fair housing laws - News-Herald.com July 28, 2014 Fair housing groups say bill attacks civil rights, erodes state fair housing lawsNews-Herald.com... punitive damages, allow respondents to recover attorney's fees in certain instances, prohibit actual or punitive damages from being awarded to a
- Attorney: Justice Department Report Could Strengthen Civil Rights Suits ... - CBS Local July 27, 2014 CBS LocalAttorney: Justice Department Report Could Strengthen Civil Rights Suits ...CBS Local"It should act almost as a road map to establishing more liability against the city of Newark in each and every civil rights case I have against it," he
- Attorney General Eric Holder says Justice Department is 'monitoring' chokehold ... - New York Daily News July 26, 2014 New York Daily NewsAttorney General Eric Holder says Justice Department is 'monitoring' chokehold ...New York Daily NewsJoined by members of Garner's family, Sharpton met for about 30 minutes with top officials of the Brooklyn U.S.
- Houston kicks off celebration for milestone anniversary for civil rights law - Chron.com July 26, 2014 WFMZ AllentownHouston kicks off celebration for milestone anniversary for civil rights lawChron.comTo commemorate the upcoming 25-year anniversary in summer 2015, this year's expo in Houston launched the "ADA legacy tour," a bus that will
- Prominent Civil Rights Attorney Bamidele Aturu Buried Amid Tears And Tributes - SaharaReporters.com July 25, 2014 SaharaReporters.comProminent Civil Rights Attorney Bamidele Aturu Buried Amid Tears And TributesSaharaReporters.comBamidele Aturu's body lay-in-state before burial Sahara Reporters Media Human rights activist and lawyer, Bamidele Francis Aturu,
- URGENT: 528 Men Sentenced to Death in Mass Trial April 22, 2014 You can help stop this mass, grotesque violation of human rights: sign Amnesty's petition calling on Egyptian authorities to overturn the 528 death sentences.
- How the Vietnamese Government is Using Its Political Prisoners to Gain Leverage April 22, 2014 The Vietnamese government moves prisoners of conscience in and out of prison, whenever it seems like a favorable move. Its latest release of prisoners may merely be a publicity stunt.
- 8 lessons in manliness..... April 21, 2014 .... here. The interested reader may peruse it, but the said eight lessons take their cue from....Vikings. No, not the NFL team from Minnesota. I mean VIKINGS (like in the picture above). It's hard to know whether to know whether...<img
- Jotwell Conference April 21, 2014 Legal Scholarship We Like,and Why It Matters University of Miami School of Law November 7-8, 2014 JOTWELL, the Journal of Things We Like (Lots), is an online journal dedicated to celebrating and sharing the best scholarship relating to the law.
- "Scrutinizing Federal Electoral Qualifications" April 21, 2014 The title of this post comes from this recent article by Professor Derek T. Muller, the abstract of which states: Candidates for federal office must meet several constitutional qualifications. Sometimes, whether a candidate meets those qualifications
- Sealed v. Sealed July 28, 2014
- Islamic Center of Murfreesboro et al v. Rutherford County, Tennessee July 18, 2012