Civil Rights and Civil Liberties - Free Essay Sample

Published: 2022-02-15
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties - Free Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Constitution Civil rights
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1635 words
14 min read

Civil rights provide equal protection and social opportunities under the law, regardless of an individual's religion, personal characteristics, and race. The examples of civil rights include the right to a fair trial, right to public education, the right to vote, and the right of using public facilities. Civil rights are an essential part of democracy. When people are denied the opportunities of participating in political society, they are denied their civil rights. The civil rights laws try to guarantee equal and complete citizenship for individuals who have traditionally been discriminated. At the same time, whenever enforcing civil rights is considered insufficient, citizens stage a civil rights movement as a call for action for the equally applying laws without discrimination. The civil rights have to be provided and guaranteed by the state's power. Civil rights are different from other rights concepts such as natural or human rights, where individuals have inherent rights from nature or God (Weinrib 297).

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Civil liberties are the rights which are guaranteed to the residents or citizens of a territory or a nation. Civil liberties are the rights which a government has the contractual obligation to protect, often through the constitutional bill of rights. In the United States of America, civil liberty is traced back to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). ACLU was a progressive litigation and advocacy organization which called for the protection of the authority vested in the Bill of Rights of the United States of America. Additionally, the American Liberty Party claims to offer protection to civil liberties. Civil liberties include the freedom of the press, conscience, expression, assembly, right to privacy, and the right to a fair trial. Some of the other civil liberties include the right of defending oneself, and the right to own property (Choi, Seung-Whan, and Patrick 899).

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the U.S. Constitution

The protection of civil rights and civil liberties is crucial to the political values of the United States of America. The security of the rights of an individual involves the violation of those of another. The 1964 Civil Rights Act is a landmark law in America which does not support discrimination based on color, sex, national origin, or even religion. The Civil Rights Act is against unequal use of requirements for voter registration and the racial segregation in employment, public accommodations, and schools. At first, these powers were enforced, but the act was fragile. In the later years, Congress included its the authority of legislating through various parts of the Constitution of the USA. More specifically, the Congress enforced its power of regulating interstate commerce as provided for in Article One section 8. The civil rights are protected under the Fourteenth Amendment where there is the equal protection of citizens and the Fifteenth Amendment where there is the duty of safeguarding voting rights (Andrews, Kenneth, and Sarah 509).

The civil liberties are protected in the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment, which were added to the U.S. Constitution in 1791. The civil liberties are provided for in the bill of rights, which are grouped into two key areas. These are the rights and freedoms connected to due process and crime and the freedoms and rights which are provided for in the First Amendment such as religion, press, petition, and speech. The Bill of Rights is derived from the Magna Carta, which was signed into law in 1215. The Constitution which was drafted in 1787, did not cater for the Bill of Rights. The drafters of the Constitution believed that they had more pressing concerns other than protecting civil liberties and rights.

Furthermore, the framers of the Constitution thought that they had covered the issues of rights in the document's main body. The federalists inserted some protections in the Constitution against legislative acts which could limit the liberties of citizens. The Bill of Rights is aimed at protecting the individuals' freedom from the state officials' interferences. Initially, these protections applied only to the actions of the government. However, various sets of liberties and rights were protected by the laws and constitutions of the state. Even when the reasons are the same, the protections levels differ through definitions across states. From the Civil War, many of the protections provided for in the Bill of Rights are expanded to cover actions of the national government (Holt, James, George, and John 2).

The Roles of the Constitution in Denying or Guaranteeing Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

In Article One, section 9 of the Constitution, the power of Congress has been limited in three different ways. These ways are the prevention of the passage of the bills of attainder, reducing the power of the Congress to suspend habeas corpus, and preventing ex-post facto laws. The statement of attainder is a law which punishes or convicts an individual for a crime without trials. With the prevention of these laws, it means that the Congress of the United States of America cannot punish individuals guilty of criminal acts. The ex-post facto code is used in punishing crimes which were not crimes when they were committed. At the same time, it can be utilized to increase the extent of the severity of the punishment after the criminal act has been determined. The writ of habeas corpus is often used in the legal system to demand a neutral judge to make decisions on whether an individual is detained lawfully. According to the Federalists, the limitations on the powers o the Congress and those provided in Article One of the Constitution are enough. The Constitution is viewed as merely aimed at regulating the nation's general political interests instead of focusing on controlling every dimension of private and personal concerns (Levinson 31).

The Roles of the Judiciary

The judiciary is a system of courts which interprets and applies laws in a state, international community, or country. The courts have not considered the rights included in the whole Bill of Rights or the First Amendment as absolute. When a right conflicts with another, such as the freedom of speech clashing with the right to privacy, the courts must strike a balance between the conflicting interests while determining the one to give way to another. In understanding the competing values, including public safety and free speech, the courts have formulated different tests to assist in finding the right balance, which is keeping with the judicial precedents. For example, the clear and present danger test provides for the government restricting the speech to prevent serious and immediate dangers (Peterson 211).

Additionally, the courts have added the analysis of unfortunate tendency. According to the wrong tendency test, speech which poses a future and current threat are limited. In some situations, the courts have also denied the media the rights of reporting facts whenever these facts are in direct conflict with other protected rights. For example, when the names of the victims conflict with the right of the defendant to a fair trial, the court can limit the freedom of the press to present facts to the public. From the Fourth to the Sixth Amendment, the Constitution protects the American citizens from intrusions from the government. These possible intrusions included unreasonable seizures and searches, and the due process, which is intended for individuals accused of criminal acts (Peterson 211).

In the application of the Fourth Amendment in particular cases, the courts have struggled with questions related to what makes an unreasonable and reasonable search. The mitigation of these factors includes whether the government personnel or even the police have lawful search warrants. The courts also consider if there was a probable cause as an indication of the likelihood of committal of a crime. The Supreme Court in 1989 held that law enforcement officials need to be subjected to drug tests without search warrants. The Sixth Amendment provides for criminal defendants having a right to a public trial and an impartial jury. However, the meanings of the speedy trial and unbiased jury have changed over the years. In a lot of criminal cases, the trial judge is expected to rule on particular legal questions which involve issues such as the type of information open to the media and the riles which govern the selection of the jury. At the same time, there is also the determination of relevant and non-admissible evidence, and the particular guidelines on sentencing. The parties to a case who feel they have received unfair treatment in trial processes could appeal their cases to higher courts. It is the duty of the court of appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution and apply it to that specific case. They have to finally determine if the fundamental rights of an individual are violated (Peterson 215).

Work Cited

Andrews, Kenneth T., and Sarah Gaby. "Local protest and federal policy: The impact of the civil rights movement on the 1964 Civil Rights Act." Sociological Forum. Vol. 30. 2015. Retrieved from

Choi, Seung-Whan, and Patrick James. "Why does the United States intervene abroad? Democracy, human rights violations, and terrorism." Journal of conflict resolution 60.5 (2016): 899-926. Retrieved from

Holt, James Clarke, George Garnett, and John Hudson. Magna Carta. Cambridge University Press, 2015. Retrieved from

Levinson, Daryl J. "Looking for Power in Public Law." Harv. L. Rev. 130 (2016): 31. Retrieved from

Peterson, Todd David. "Procedural Checks: How the Constitution (and Congress) Control the Power of the Three Branches." Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy13.1 (2018): 211-265. Retrieved from

Weinrib, Laura M. "Civil Liberties Outside the Courts." The Supreme Court Review 2014.1 (2015): 297-362. Retrieved from

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