In a legal system, these two terms, ‘civil rights’ and ‘civil liberties’ are frequently used alternatively, as synonyms of each other. However, in reality, both these terms are quite distinct from each other. Civil liberties refers to the freedoms secured for us by the Constitution to ensure our protection from tyranny, for example our freedom of speech. On the other hand, civil rights refer to the legal rights that any individual has that dafeguards them from discrimination, such as employment discrimination.
But what is the main difference between a civil liberty and a civil right? The Declaration of Independence along with the Bill of Rights has both of these words mentioned in them. There has always been a very blurry line that separates these two words, so much so that today, the concepts behind them are used interchangeably. However, even if we do use them synonymously, we cannot deny the fact that these words do allude to different kinds of securities and freedoms.
Citizens of the United States are very familiar with rights like, the one where you can remain silent, the right to a fair court trial, the right to vote and an individual’s right to privacy. However, we have no clue whether we will categorize them under civil rights or civil liberties. This article is going to delve into the intricacies between civil rights and civil liberties and explore the differences between them. Let us head right into it.
Civil Rights Definition
Civil rights revolve around an individual’s fundamental right to be liberated from inconsistent treatment depending upon certain inherent attributes such as race, sexual orientation, disability, and so forth. This pertains to different settings, for example, business, education, lodging, and admittance to public offices. A civil rights infringement happens in specific circumstances where an individual is oppressed based on a protected characteristic. Most civil rights policies are set up through the government by means of bureaucratic enactment or case law.
Civil rights ensure that equal conditions are provided for all Americans. Moreover, the term ‘civil rights; itself is usually used when referring to safeguarding minority communities, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and women. However, the government counterbalances the ‘majority rule’ tendency in a democracy that frequently finds minorities outvoted.
According to the United States law, the citizens may not be discriminated against in fields of education, employment, access to public facilities, and housing, based on their protected characteristics. However, if such discrminations occur in either one of these settings, then it is a clear breach of their civil rights. It is the federal government that has created laws (through legislation and case law) that outline civil rights.
Civil Rights Example
In theory, providing complete and equal rights to every individual seems quite easy. However, in reality, it is actually far from simple. In such cases, one does not just have to keep race and gender in mind, but also has to think about an individual’s sexual orientation as well. The most common question asked is what are a person’s civil rights? In order to make it more clear, some examples of civil rights focus on the equal and just treatment of citizens in sectors pertaining to:
- Government Services
- Public Education
- Public Facilities
Civil Rights Demonstrations
When talking about civil rights movements, demonstrations were a significant tool. For example in the civil rights demonstrations that took place in Birmingham and Atlanta, among other locations. These demonstrations followed a nonviolent, direct action approach that turned out to be really effective, as affirmed by Martin Luther King’s powerful and vocal ‘A Letter from Birmingham Jail’. A few ways in which demonstrations can take place are marches, rallies, picketing, sit-ins, and other forms of protest. The success of these kinds of demonstrations reached such heights that similar approaches were soon taken up by activists for peace, women’s issues, gay rights, and other causes.
Civil Liberties Definition
As far as civil liberties are concerned, they are the fundamental rights and freedoms that are guaranteed, interpreted or implied over the years by legislatures or the courts. Civil liberties are either explicitly mentioned in the Bill of Rights or in the Constitution
Civil liberties are laws that safeguard individuals from the actions of the government. For instance, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights ensures the rights of the citizens to practice any religion they please. Therefore, in such situations the government cannot interfere in an individual’s freedom of worship. The first Amendment provides the citizens the freedom from the actions of the government.
Civil Liberties Example
As in the case with civil rights, civil liberties also have a few different examples. However, unlike civil rights, civil liberties are slightly more cut and dried, along with having a few gray areas as well. Following are some examples of civil liberties which includes freedoms that are pertaining to one’s:
- Right to Speech
- Right to Expression
- Right to Privacy
- Right to Due process
- Right to Press
- Right to Religion
- Right to Assembly
- Right to Owning Property
- Right to Defending Oneself
- Right to Marrying
- Right to Voting
What Is A Person’s Civil Rights?
Civil rights, ensure that equal social opportunities and equal justice under the law be provided to every individual that is a citizen of the United States. Individuals have access to civil rights regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristics.
Civil rights are a fundamental segment of a democratic system; whenever people are being denied chances to take part in political society, they are being denied their social liberties. Rather than civil liberties, which are opportunities that are guaranteed by putting restrictions on the government, civil rights are guaranteed by government activity, usually in the form of an enactment. Laws regarding civil rights endeavor to ensure full and equivalent citizenship for individuals who have customarily been oppressed based on some inherent trademark characteristic. At the point when the requirement of civil rights is discovered by numerous individuals to be lacking, it can result in a civil rights movement so as to call for equivalent application of the laws without segregation.
In contrast to various other concepts regarding rights, for example, human rights or natural rights, in which individuals secure rights intrinsically, maybe from God or nature, civil rights must be given and ensured by the authority of the state. In this way, they shift incredibly after some time, culture, and type of government and will in general follow cultural patterns that excuse or despise specific kinds of discriminations.
Types Of Civil Rights Cases
Mentioned below are some of the most common types of civil rights cases:
When it comes to civil rights, our most crucial battles in this nation include oppression of others depending on what their identity is or what they decide to do in their personal lives. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it unlawful for employers to oppress representatives on the basis of race, religion, skin colour, ethnicity or gender. Recent laws have stretched out these elements that need to be safeguarded to cover factors like disability, age, or sexual orientation.
Cases where employers do not hire people, fire them, create and provide a bitter and contentious work environment so as to have an employee resign from their position, or if in any case, the employer uses such inherent characteristics as mentioned above, as a basis for discrimination, there are strong chances for an employment discrimination lawsuit.
Just as is the case with employment discrimination, most individuals have also face discrimination in terms of being denied housing, or a shelter above their heads, or sometimes even being driven out by different malicious and spiteful actions. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 offers every citizen the right to housing and accommodation. Moreover, this act underwen further extensions that covered discrimination against families with children.
Nevertheless, one has to understand that even employers and landlords have certain legal rights that give them an edge through which they can discriminate in other ways. For example, if you do not have the transportation to get to a job or if you cannot prove that you can pay the rent after some time (if you haven’t already), then regardless of whether or not you are a member of the protected class, you can still be denied access. Therefore, getting in touch with a skilled civil rights lawyer is highly important, to see if you even have a case.
One of the most malevolent types of discriminations is the one that is done by hands of the governments or by the law enforcement departments such as the police. The most common forms of government discriminations are false detainments,arrests, and stops that have been perpetrated against minorities in order to threaten them, particularly African Americans and Hispanics. The ongoing fights in Ferguson, Missouri and the activities of Joe Arpaio in Arizona, alongside all of the ongoing police shootings, show that this is a region of incredible concern. At the point when the government is allowed to oppress its own residents, it opens the entryway for all citizens to victimize the affected community. That puts everybody in danger, which is the reason why it is important to fight for your rights if you feel or have felt as if you have been oppressed by the government.
Main Difference Between Civil Liberties And Civil Rights
Now that we have taken a look in detail at what civil liberties and civil rights are, let us look at a quick overview of the main differences between the two:
- Mentioned in the 14th Amendment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Safeguards citizens and their rights from discrimination
- Ensures government action
- Mentioned in the Bill of Rights
- Places restrictions on the authority a government has
- Restrains government action
According to the law, there is a difference between civil rights and civil liberty. Where the former implies that the fundamental rights of freedom from discrimination are dependent upon certain individual qualities, for example, sex, race, or incapacity, and common freedoms (which are basic liberties), civil liberties on the other hand focus on real basic freedoms. Moreover, civil rights concern the treatment of an individual with respect to specific rights. In contrast to civil liberties, where the government awards wide-based rights to people, civil rights are conceded by the legislature as well as contain a secure part of those rights dependent on specific attributes. One approach to consider the contrast between civil rights and civil liberties is to take a look at the rights that are influenced, and the ones whose right is influenced. Living in a country that claims to provide its people with liberty and freedom, it is important to know what your civil rights and civil freedoms are.