What Are Civil Rights?
Civil rights refer to an individual’s basic rights and liberties that are guaranteed by law, typically the federal or state constitution. These rights include fundamental human freedoms, such as the rights to free speech, religion, assembly, and expression. This article provides a detailed overview of what civil rights entail, the historical background, and current developments and challenges.
The history of civil rights in the United States dates back to the 19th century, when the abolition of slavery and the subsequent civil war led to the enactment of constitutional amendments granting African Americans citizenship and voting rights. The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution was particularly significant, as it granted all citizens equal protection under the law. However, it was not until the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s that the country made significant strides in expanding civil rights protections to other marginalized groups, like Latino Americans, Native Americans, Asians, and women.
Fundamental Civil Rights Protections
The fundamental civil rights protections vary widely depending on the governing legal documents. All individuals, regardless of race, religion, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to equal protection under the law and private acts. Specific protections and freedoms include:
The Freedom of Speech, Press, and Religion: The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees these fundamental freedoms.
The Right to Assembly: The First Amendment also guarantees the right to peaceful assembly and protest.
The Right to Bear Arms: The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms.
The Right to Due Process of Law: The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments prohibit the deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
The Right to Vote: The 15th and 19th Amendments to the US Constitution granted voting rights to African Americans and women, respectively.
Other Civil Rights Protections
The list of civil rights protections does not stop with the basics. Other protections fall within the following categories:
Employment Protected Classes: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
Education Protections: The Constitution guarantees equal educational opportunities for all children.
Housing Protections: The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, or familial status.
Despite significant progress in expanding civil rights protections, significant challenges persist. For example, the increasing political polarization of the United States has led to renewed debates over basic rights, such as free speech, voting rights, and the right to privacy. Additionally, issues like police brutality and systemic racism have prompted calls for new civil rights protections and better enforcement of existing laws.
Civil rights are critical to a functioning democracy, ensuring that all individuals have equal rights and opportunities. With ongoing debates and disputes, it is clear that the United States still has a long way to go in addressing the challenges that limit the enjoyment of these fundamental rights. However, with a continued focus on greater equality and fairness, the country can move forward and evolve into a society that consistently protects the rights of its citizens.
What are Civil Rights?
Civil rights refer to a body of personal freedoms or liberties that are nonnegotiable and will not infringed upon by the issuing government agency. In accordance, civil rights are those that all human beings are entitled to, regardless of codification.
Civil rights are a series of liberties that are primarily comprised of matters that will affect an individual’s ability to lead a happy life as part of a functioning community; civil rights encompass such freedoms that will free an individual from the constraints of discrimination, intrusions imposed by other individuals, organizations or government agencies and unwarranted persecutions.
In a general sense, civil rights will protect the ability of an individual to live a free, yet lawful lifestyle, shaped by choices and individual expression. That being said, identifying such rights may be complex, for the delivery of civil rights will vary from country to country and jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
At its core; however, the most basic of civil rights maintain a uniformity that is recognized throughout the developed world. For example, the freedom to identify with a religious group of choice, protection from discrimination based on gender, religious belief, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political ideology and the freedom of speech are examples of common iterations of civil rights.
As stated before, civil rights will vary based on country; some nations will place a higher value on certain rights and not every country will possess a formal lawful description of civil rights and to whom they are awarded to. That being said, there is a widely accepted standard for civil rights, which is expressed in the Universal Declaration of human rights. This formal document, which was adopted by the United Nations, states that all individuals are recipients of such undeniable liberties.
Purpose of Civil Rights:
By acknowledging and delivering civil rights, individuals within a society maintain freedom from persecution by their governing bodies and peers; such a characteristic protects individuals from unreasonable government infringement on personal decisions that mold individuality. For example, the right to freedom of speech enables an individual or group of individuals to hold protests against decisions made by their underlying governments.
In these instances, if the protests are non-violent, the government body does not possess the ability to threaten such a formation or to persecute any individual for speaking his or her mind in regards to the issues at hand.
Violations of Civil Rights:
Although legislation mandates that civil rights may not be infringed, throughout history, there have been multiple cases were civil rights have been impeded based on discriminatory practices. In an effort to dissuade such heinous acts, many developed nations have adopted such rights into their body of laws. For example, in the United States, the Bill of Rights was included in the country’s constitution to formally express the natural rights, which are fortified and unwavering, for every citizen of the country to utilize.