Civil Rights

Civil Rights in the United States

Civil Rights Definition

The rights of a citizen; the rights of an individual as a citizen; the rights due from one citizen to another, the privation of which is a civil wrong, for which redress may be sought in a civil action. Also sometimes applied to the rights secured (according to the definition of Civil Rights based on the Cyclopedic Law Dictionary ) by the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments to the United States constitution and the statutes pursuant thereto. CIVIL SERVICE. Governmental service other than military or naval; administrative functions. More commonly used to signify those offices in the federal, state or municipal governments which are filled by appointment of persons competitively examined and passed for merit and ability, irrespective of partisan affiliations.

The Concept

An affirmative act of government intended to protect citizens from unlawful conduct by government agencies or private parties. Civil rights are different from civil liberties. Civil liberties are prohibitions on certain government conduct. They define areas where government cannot interfere with individual activity. Civil rights, on the other hand, are initiatives of government designed to implement its social contract obligations to protect citizens’ basic rights to “life, liberty and property.” People are entitled, among other things, to vote and to own property. Government can protect these interests by adopting laws and regulations that prohibit arbitrary or discriminatory interference with these rights. For example, people cannot be “singled out” for arbitrary treatment because of certain characteristics such as race or gender. Thus, government may enact civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in the conveyance of property or participation in the electoral process. (1)

Analysis and Relevance

Civil rights initiatives in the United States date back to the aftermath of the Civil War. Following the war, three amendments were added to the Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment forbid involuntary servitude, but also enabled Congress to act to eliminate “vestiges” of slavery. The Fifteenth Amendment was aimed at discriminatory interference with voting rights. The Fourteenth Amendment was more broadly scoped and prohibited denial of “due process” and “equal protection.” These three amendments provide the constitutional basis for most contemporary federal civil rights laws. Indeed, by 1875 Congress had enacted several civil rights statutes based on these amendments. Some provisions of these early enactments remain in effect. For example, civil damage suits may be brought against government officials whose actions violate the rights of individual citizens. It was under the terms of one of these statutes that criminal prosecutions were undertaken in the 1960s against those who deprived others of their rights by means of criminal violence. Since the end of World War II, a number of federal, state, and local legislative initiatives have been made in efforts to secure civil rights for blacks, other minorities, and women. These initiatives have focused primarily on such fields as education, housing, employment, and access to public services and facilities. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, based on congressional power to regulate interstate commerce, was a broadly scoped enactment that prohibited discrimination in public accommodations, employment, and education. The act also authorized withholding federal funds from recipients acting in a discriminatory manner. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, adopted the following year, has through numerous renewals continued to direct substantial federal authority toward the elimination of discriminatory voting practices. (2)

Practical Information

Rights belonging to a person by virtue of his citizenship (in U.S. law) in a state or community. The failure of the Constitution to guarantee many of the personal rights the people regarded as fundamental led to the almost immediate adoption of a bill (in U.S. law) of Rights in the form of the first ten amendments. (Revised by Ann De Vries)

What is Civil Rights?

For a meaning of it, read Civil Rights in the Legal Dictionary here. Browse and search more U.S. and international free legal definitions and legal terms related to Civil Rights.

Civil Rights and the United States Constitution

According to theEncyclopedia of the American Constitution, about its article titled CIVIL RIGHTS, in contemporary legal discourse, civil rights refer principally to legislative and judicial proscriptions against racial segregation and racial discrimination although some branches of civil rights law concern sex discrimination and discrimination based on religion and other issues… The core of the concept “civil rights” is freedom from racial discrimination. Although the term, not improperly, often refers to freedom from discrimination based on nationality, alienage, gender, age, sexual preference, or physical or mental handicap or even religious liberty, or immunity.

Main Topics of Civil Rights

This entry in the American Encyclopedia has been organized to address the following topics, among others:

  • Civil Rights : Affirmative Action
  • Civil Rights : Age Discrimination
  • Civil Rights : Assembly
  • Civil Rights : Children’s Rights
  • Civil Rights : Firearm Laws
  • Civil Rights : Free Speech/Freedom of Expression
  • Civil Rights : Racial Discrimination
  • Civil Rights : Religious Freedom
  • Civil Rights : Sexual Discrimination and Orientation
  • Civil Rights : Voting Rights

Civil Rights in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias

Link Description
Civil Rights Civil Rights in the World Legal Encyclopedia.
Civil Rights Civil Rights in the European Legal Encyclopedia.
Civil Rights Civil Rights in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.
Civil Rights Civil Rights in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.
Civil Rights Civil Rights in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.

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Civil Rights in relation to Local Government Regulatory Functions

Find out in this American legal Encyclopedia the information on Civil Rights in relation to Local Government Regulatory Power and Function (and in the context of local government law).

Resouces

See Also

  • Local Goverment Regulation
  • Local Law Regulation
  • Local Government Power

Civil rights (collective bargaining, and union membership) in relation to Public Officers

Find out in this American legal Encyclopedia the information on Civil rights (collective bargaining, and union membership) in relation to Public Officers (and in the context of local government law).

Introduction to Civil Rights Act of 1875

In the context of the legal history: Legislation signed by President Grant to allow blacks to be on juries, and not be barred from hotels, bars, and trolley cars.

Civil Rights Background

Civil Rights Background

Civil Rights Act (Civil Rights Legislation)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of civil rights act . Then, cross references and a brief overview about Civil Rights Legislation is provided. Finally, the subject of Civil Rights Law in relation with civil rights act is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Civil Rights Act (Contractual Relations)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of civil rights act. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Contractual Relations is provided. Finally, the subject of Civil Rights Law in relation with civil rights act is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Finding the law: Civil Rights in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to civil rights, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines civil rights topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.

Civil Rights

In Legislation

Civil Rights in the U.S. Code: Title 18, Part I, Chapter 13

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating civil rights are compiled in the United States Code under Title 18, Part I, Chapter 13. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Criminal Law (including civil rights) of the United States. The readers can further narrow their legal research on the topic by chapter and subchapter.

Civil Rights

In Legislation

Civil Rights in the U.S. Code: Title 8, Chapter 3

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating civil rights are compiled in the United States Code under Title 8, Chapter 3. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Aliens and Nationality (including civil rights) of the United States. The readers can further narrow their legal research on the topic by chapter and subchapter.

Resources

In the context of the legal history:

See Also

  • International Treaties
  • Multilateral Treaties

Civil Rights Background

Civil Rights Background

Resources

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Civil Rights from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California
  2. Id.

See Also

Further Reading

Civil Rights in Labor Law

According to unr.edu, Civil Rights is defined as: Personal rights guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, i.e., freedom of speech, press, freedom from discrimination.

Civil Rights in Labor Law

According to unr.edu, Civil Rights is defined as: Personal rights guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, i.e., freedom of speech, press, freedom from discrimination.

Civil Rights: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Civil Rights. This part provides references, in relation to Civil Rights, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Civil Rights by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Civil Rights and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Civil Rights or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Civil Rights and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Civil Rights. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Civil Rights should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Civil Rights when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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