Civil liberties refer to the freedoms enjoyed by every human being. Such freedoms cannot be reduced or taken away by authorities without following the due process. Also, this freedom prevents the obstruction of a person by authorities for saying or doing things that are considered legal. Majority of people believe that every individual bears certain freedoms granted by God or enjoyed by simply the virtue of being human. International statutes focus on preventing arbitrary interference of a person through the protection of civil liberties.
Similarly, countries have adopted these liberties to ensure their citizen’s welfare (Government Workers Are America’s New Elite, 1).
Civil liberties address freedom to expression, speech, assembly, press, religion, conscience, liberty, and security, from torture among others. The US government has ensured that these freedoms remain true to all individuals regardless of color, race, religion, gender, and class. As provided by the Declaration of Independence, all men are created equal and that they are endowed with unalienable rights by their creator.
These liberties include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The government cannot obstruct them in any form including amendments or dismissal of the provisions of such liberties. However, cases of discrimination and denial of certain liberties need to be addressed; we are all guided by the law (Karatnycky, 63).
On the other hand, civil rights refer to economic, legal, and social equality, regardless of nationality, gender, color, race, disability, religion, or age. Also, it represents the non-political rights of an individual as enshrined in the US constitution.
The bill of rights forms part of the constitution of many countries in the world; this shows the commitment of the government in safeguarding the welfare of its citizens. From the inception of the Civil rights movement in the US, the government and the society have learned to embrace the rights of every person. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensured the entire American receives equal treatment and non-discriminatory comments from others. The Act is believed to have resulted in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Through the acts, it was illegal to discriminate people in public places or during such programs (Troubled NY Politicians, 1).
Also, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that all citizens take part in their democratic functions. The Act was passed by President Johnson removing voting barriers at the local and state levels imposed on African Americans. The Act banned any form of discrimination at the polls among them literacy tests. Examples of such rights include the right to equal treatment under the law, fair trial, privacy, due process, life, marriage, and the right to vote among others. The Declaration of Independence affirms that the government draws its power from the governed; this empowers the citizens to alter or denounce any government that infringes on its authority or exercises such power in a destructive manner (Government Workers Are America’s New Elite, 1).
The civil liberties and rights have a similar goal; this is to ensure equity and protection of the life of all people regardless of nationality, gender, color, race, disability, religion, or age. However, they differ in several aspects like the definition, forms of imposition, and specification. By definition, civil rights are a set of laws or rights provided by the government to protect its people from segregation while ensuring equal protection and social equality under the law. On the other hand, civil liberties prescribe a set of freedoms that limit the rights of a person to the provisions of the laws established while safeguarding the welfare of the community; freedoms are not dictated by the law, however, they are held to be true and unalienable gifts to all humanity.
Furthermore, the civil rights are imposed by the legislative arm of government; this is through enacting acts and amendments to existing provisions to ensure the protection of all citizens regardless of their differences. On the contrary, the bill of rights and the constitution dictate civil liberties be observed by all citizens in a country. Most countries around the world vote on such liberties before they are included in the constitution. Lastly, civil liberties specify basic human freedoms; those are basic to all citizens. For example, a prisoner has the freedom to security despite lacking the freedom to move while in prison. This clearly demonstrates that they apply to different situations in different ways. On the other hand, civil rights guarantee political and social equality with an aim of reducing cases of discrimination; this is specific to social and political equality. Use of the two terms interchangeably is wrong; one needs to be clear on the civil rights and civil liberties provisions (Karatnycky, 27).
The right to life, security, and equal treatment is the sequence which the highest influence on human beings. The right to life is enshrined in article 3 of the Universal Declaration of human rights. This right demands the protection of people’s lives by prohibiting any action that compromises one’s life. Many countries have outlawed murder, suicide, abortion, euthanasia, and homicide, among other actions that compromise the life of an individual. Secondly, security is a fundamental right for all people. Without security in cases of civil war, it is evidently difficult to enjoy any other form of the rights provided.
Security ensures that one is protected from any form of danger including terrorism, unlawful imprisonment, abduction, house arrests, among other actions that expose one to the effects of insecurity. Security in the backbone upon which economic, social, and political development are realized. Lastly, the right to equal treatment is guarantees fair treatment of all people regardless of nationality, gender, color, race, disability, religion, or age. This offers equal economic, social, and political opportunities to all citizens of a country. For example, citizens receive competitive and equal employment opportunities in a country that respects the right to equal treatment of its people.
In my opinion, I enjoy most of the rights and liberties provided by the US government through the constitution and legislation. The basic provisions to life, expression, speech, assembly, press, religion, conscience, liberty and security, fair trial, privacy, due process, marriage, and the right to vote forms the basic attributes that keep me optimistic in living in the US. The federal and state leadership has been tactical in handling any form of abuse of this right. Through the courts and civil society, the US is a better place than 50 years ago during the civil rights movement. However, I have to admit that cases of unequal treatment of people due to color are still a major challenge in US society (Troubled NY Politicians, 1).
Discrimination has turned some places in the US into a death trap; Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, and Texas among other states have the highest forms of color related discrimination cases. The worst case is when law enforcement agencies engage in the vice; we have had of security officers perceived to subscribe to certain racial ideologies being gunned down by violent demonstrators. It is equally true that citizens have experienced discrimination in the hands of the police due to their skin color. This generation has a responsibility to ensure all citizens are treated equally as stated in the Declaration of Independence and in the dreams of our founders like Abraham Lincoln. I do believe this has been caused by the existing stereotypes in society. Some people regard themselves as superior compared to others; we can only solve this by embracing one another by recognizing the uniqueness in our diversity.
Where do the courts weigh in? The courts are vital in administering civil rights and liberties in any country. First, they interpret the established laws which help in educating the public on what is moral in regards to the constitution and legislation. This reduces ignorance of the law hence reducing cases of infringement on people’s rights and liberties. Secondly, the courts protect civil rights by acting as the custodians of the fundamental rights in a country. Without laws, we expose ourselves to disasters in society because we need direction and regulation on what is right and wrong to live peacefully. Thirdly, the courts protect the constitution and offer adept advice on how to implement its provisions. The law is a complex subject to many leaders; therefore, the judiciary helps the government in exercising their mandate in an intra-vires way. Lastly, the courts have made landmark decisions in civil rights and liberty cases. The courts guarantee justice when one feels grieved by another party, which helps in maintaining order and law in society (Supreme Court of the United States, 1).
The ACLU of Southern California v. LAPD case is one of the cases that involved civil liberties. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in California sought the determination of the court following the launch of the ‘safer cities initiative’ by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 2006. The initiative aimed at removing street families on the streets of Los Angeles, this decision infringed on the right of the homeless to liberty, life, due process, and property. The court ruled that LAPD has no right to arrest individuals for lying, sitting, or sleeping on the streets. This was a good decision towards safeguarding the civil liberties of the homeless in the society; one’s liberties should be respected regardless of if they own a home or live on the streets (Born & Peter, 48).
On the other hand, the University of California v. Bakke (1978) case offers the best example of a case involving civil rights. Bakke sued the University on grounds that the admission program of the university discriminated him on the basis of race and age. The trial court granted Bakke admission, but the university appealed the decision. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision on the lower court on the basis that the Affirmative Action is permissible in circumstances that an established principle violates people’s rights. The decision by the court barred public institutions from discrimination on the basis of color. Therefore, it protected the right to equal treatment (Born & Peter, 48).
In my opinion, both civil rights and civil liberties have an impact on the quality of life in the states. However, civil rights have more influence than liberties. Rights are subject to amendments by the authorities, this might offer a loophole to abuse one’s right. States that enact proper laws protect the rights of its citizens while communities that recognize the diversity of people protect their liberties. I feel that the high levels of discrimination in Mississippi can be greatly mitigated using the decisions in the cases above. From experience, the state has experienced much color-related discrimination. The only remedy is to apply the law in addressing civil rights and freedoms (Supreme Court of the United States, 1).