Civil Rights Vs Civil Liberties Research Paper

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Greg Harvey Professor Sharifian GOVT 2305-73012 February 11, 2018 Civil Rights vs Civil Liberties Many people, including myself struggle with the difference between civil rights and civil liberties. When I first started my research, I was still struggling with the differences. Civil liberties are much easier for me to grasp than civil rights. 1 Civil liberties have a very clear definition. According to UShistory.org, “Civil liberties are protections against government actions”. One interesting thing that I encountered while starting this project is that, according to this definition, the Bill of Rights is mostly civil liberties, not civil rights. This left me asking what are civil rights really then? As I continued to read, I discovered
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Baltimore “the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution 's Bill of Rights restricts only the powers of the federal government and not those of the state governments.” This was a very important decision in the history of civil liberties. This basically meant that people were protected from the federal government but not their state government. Something had to be done to fix this. That is when the fourteenth amendment came into play. 2 The fourteenth amendment states that, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; 3 nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; 4 nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This basically means that the liberties allowed to people by the federal government must be allowed by the state government. From this point on many important Supreme Court cases were decided based on the fourteenth amendment. The first that comes to mind for me is Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. In this court case the state of Louisiana made a law requiring separate train cars for whites and people of color. Homer Plessy bought a ticket and sat down in a seat on a car that was only to be used by whites. He was subsequently arrested by the police and charged. He took the case to the Supreme Court and they ruled that it was constitutional to, “provide equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” This was law until Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. In this court case, the decision from Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned. They ruled that, “separate is inherently unequal”. This was a big win for civil rights for African Americans. Several years later, the history of civil rights and civil liberties was changed again in Mapp v. Ohio. In this court case evidence was illegally obtained from the home of Dollree Mapp. The case was taken to the Supreme Court where they

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