Civil rights and liberties

Civil right refers to power that can be exercised under civil law. It includes the ability to contract. In civil law jurisdictions, in case of law suit such as bleach of contract between private parties, they are expressed as infringement of civil right. For example, in the republic of china, article two of contract law defines contract as an agreement that establishes, modifies and terminates civil rights between subjects that are of equal footing.

Civil right is distinguished from natural rights or human rights because; it is right bestowed by nations on people within their boundaries while human right is the right of an individual by the nature of being born. The law that guarantees civil right can be written down or stated falsely, implied or derived from custom. In United States, civil right laws are written, for example, right to get redress if you are injured by another person, right to peaceful protest and right to be investigated fairly if suspected of crime.

After civilization, citizens were granted more important civil rights. After the grants were found inadequate, there was emergence of civil right movements that claims more equal protection for every citizen and new laws were advocated that effect restriction of current discriminations. (Rawls, 1999 pp16-18).

Civil right is protection against government, public or private sector discrimination. Fourteenth amendment of United States constitution protects citizen against state discrimination and equal protection requirement. It is also protection against private entities and actors. The united states section 201 of civil rights act of 1964 states that, all persons are entitled to equal enjoyment of facilities, goods and services, privileges, advantages and any public accommodation without segregation or discrimination based on color, national origin, sex or religion.

Civil right is the enforceable right or privilege which if interfered with by a person can result to an action for injury. An example of civil right is the right to vote, freedom of speech, assembly and press, freedom from involuntary servitude and right to have equality in public places. When civil right is denied to an individual, discrimination occurs because of being in a particular group or class. There is statute that is enacted to prevent such discrimination based on physical discrimination and sexual preference.

United States has expansion of civil rights by enacting thirteenth and fourteenth amendments where thirteenth amendment was able to abolish slavery throughout United States. Black codes limited civil rights of newly free slaves. Fourteenth amendment countered black codes and ensured that, there should be no state that make or enforce law which abridge the immunities or privileges of citizens or deprive people liberty or property out of the process of law.

Decisions made by supreme court limited congressional enforcement of fourteenth amendment to state action. Therefore, to be able to reach individual actions or use power to regulate interstate commerce, civil right was enacted under title 42 public welfare and health. The 1964 civil rights act and legislation subsequently declared strong legislative policy against any discrimination in public schools and colleges which aid desegregation.

Volume one of civil rights act is against discrimination in programs that are federally funded. Volume two prohibits discrimination in employment where it engages employer in interstate commerce. In judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, it interprets the extent of civil rights. A single ruling of Supreme Court can change nature of right in the entire country. The decision of Supreme Court can affect the way congress enact civil rights legislation as in civil rights act of 1964. Federal court mandate and supervise desegregation in school programs and programs that rectify local or state discrimination.

The success of civil right movement is attributed to coverage in television. Tapping and broadcasting of civil rights of workers, marches, sit-ins and clashes demonstrate inhuman severe treatment of Africa Americans by the authorities. The coverage wakened conscience of mainstream as to conditions used in the south. In the civil rights struggle and the television news, Professor William argues that, news coverage in local television had significant and immediate effects on perception of social equality.

There was a strategy of Martin Luther King that challenges Americans on moral ground to end racial abuse in the south. The television was effective in conveying news about conditions of Africa Americans quality of life. Documentary film making and news broadcast were used to present stories. In Mississippi, blacks were disfranchised by constitutional and statutory changes. In 1963, COFO held freedom vote to demonstrate how blacks in Mississippi desired to vote. There were more than 80,000 people who registered and voted on mock election which was able to pit slate of candidates from freedom party against candidates of official Democratic Party.

The presence of Mississippi Democratic Party was inconvenient. However, convention organizers planned triumphant celebrations of Johnson achievement in administering civil rights rather than fighting racism in the Democratic Party. White delegations from southern states threatened to walk out if official slate was not slated from Mississippi. Civil rights movement in America refers to reform movements that aim at abolishing racial discrimination and restoring suffrage in southern state.

In 1966, there was emerging of black power movement which lasted from 1966 to 1975 which enlarged the aims of civil right movement to include political self-sufficiency, racial dignity and freedom from white domination. Those who are active in civil right movements preferred to use the term southern freedom movement because the struggle involved more than just civil rights which are under law but also fundamental freedom issues, dignity, social equality and respect. (Herbert, 1988 pp39-40).

State sanction racial discrimination and emergence of oppression from post-reconstruction that spread nationwide was known as Jim Crow which remain intact in 1950. There was systematic disfranchisement of African Americans which lasted until national legislation of civil rights was passed at the middle of 1960s. Since the situation of blacks was somewhat better where most states voted to get their children educated although with discrimination in housing and jobs, African Americans migrated to west and north which resulted to huge population movement known as great migration.

Private Citizens rejected gradualists, legalistic approaches as a tool to bring about desegregation in face of massive resistance by proponents of voter suppression and racial segregation. In defiance, there was adoption of combined strategy to take direct action with civil disobedience.

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties refer to freedoms that protect an individual from governments. They set limit for government not to abuse its power and interfere with lives of its citizens. Civil liberties that are common include freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of religion, right to own property, privacy and fair trial. The existence of the claimed civil liberties is a matter of dispute as the extent of many civil liberties. There are controversial examples such as reproductive rights, possession of guns, same sex marriage and use of certain drugs. There is suspension or alteration of civil liberties in times of state of emergency or war which include the extent to which this should occur.

The United Kingdom has constitution that is not codified, they rely on legal conventions and legislation, it is signatory to European convention on human rights where both human rights and civil liberties are covered. The 1998 human rights act incorporates convention rights directly into United Kingdom law. Britain has unwritten constitution where centuries of legal precedent and legislation date back to before magna carter guaranteed her subject rights.( Jean, 1988 pp36-38).

In the constitution of United States, the bill of rights protects civil liberties. Human rights in united states are called civil rights which are those civil liberties held by civilians or citizens as distinguished from liberties held by military. The first ten constitutional amendments are the bill of rights and first eight guarantees personal freedoms. These rights are referred to in legal proceedings and are viewed by Americans with great patriotism.

In constitution of Canada, there is a charter of rights and freedoms which guarantees many rights with exceptions of protecting citizens against establishments of religion. However, there is no protection of freedom of religion by the charter and the charter also omits the mention of protection of property. European convention on human rights where European Union and European countries belong emulates many civil liberties and has a varying constitutional force in European states.

In the republic of china, it guarantees civil liberty except bearing of arms. This includes the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to choose language and freedom of assembly. The way in which we seek justice against those who are accused of harming us determines whether we have a nation of laws. We must make decision whether to leave the values of justice which make us proud or forsake values and continue to down path arbitrary rules and procedures that benefit our enemies.

If we are a great nation and true to the vision of our founders, core values must be upheld even in the toughest of times. The right to have a speedy trial in court and the right to rebut evidence against you and not to be tortured or convicted based on hearsay evidence is what defines commitment to the rule of law.

The military commissions which were set by administration of bush for men who were imprisoned at Guantanamo bay includes suspects involved in attack of 11th September does not reflect true American justice. The trials are supposed to represent who Americans have what they stand for and their commitment to due process. It is not the extent to which the accused are civilized. United States does not rely on torture for trial in order to gain confessions or get secret evidence that the defendant can not rebut. This is the reason why civil liberties union in America and association of lawyers of criminal defense are available in order to assist representation of detainees who are charged under military commissions act, subject to consent of detainees.

There are some limitations on interrogation techniques where no individual who is in custody or under control of intelligent community, regardless of physical location or nationality shall be subjected to any treatment or interrogation technique which has not been authorized. Use of mental torture, force and being treated in unpleasant and inhuman way is prohibited by law and is neither condoned nor authorized by government.

From experience, use of force does not help in gaining cooperation of sources for interrogation. It is a poor technique and yields unreliable results and damages subsequent collection efforts and induces the source to say what he thinks interrogator wants to hear. However, you should not confuse use of force with verbal trickery, psychological ploys or other no coercive and nonviolent ruses interrogator uses in questioning uncooperative sources.

Psychological principles and techniques outlined should not be construed or confused to be synonymous with techniques which are unauthorized for example, mental torture, brain washing or mental coercion to include drugs. These principles guide in obtaining willing cooperation of a source. It is intentional not to have threats in any interrogation; the use and enforcement constitute violations of international law which result to prosecution. (Herbert, 1988 pp 32-34).

Opinion on Civil rights

Justice Brown opinions about civil rights law are most troubling area of a troubling body of work. The opinion reveals skepticism about existence and the impact discrimination has and gives demonstration of repeated efforts in order limit available avenues to victims of discrimination on order to obtain justice. Brown reveals troubling for precedent. Even in case law which has already been settled by United States Supreme Court. For example, in a law suit of race and discrimination, Brown was able to dissent from opinion of majority by upholding an injunction against employee who used racial slurs in the place of work and to the employer who allowed them.

The argument of Brown was that racially discriminatory speech in work place even if it is illegal race discrimination is being protected by first amendment and is not limited. In his conclusion, Brown downplays the fact that, opinions in United States Supreme Court was to be the opposite. It has been made clear by the court that, speech can and constitute in some cases illegal race discrimination. He also argued that, even if the speech is racial discrimination, it is not limited to an injunction which aims at preventing discrimination from reoccurring. (Rawls, 1999 pp14-15).

If the opinion of Brown was to be the law of the land, it would be impossible for legislators and judges to take action to halt recurrence of racial discrimination and sexual harassment that involves speech in the work place. In fact, the suggestion of Brown is that, land mark civil rights law volume 2 of 1964 civil rights act prohibits employees being discriminated could be unconstitutional.

In High voltage wire works versus city of son Jose, Brown was able to author decision of majority that makes it difficult to conduct meaningful program on affirmative action in California. The opinion of justice brown in high voltage case was seen to impact negatively on the programs of affirmative action in the whole country and many criticized it as going too far. After ballot measure of California anti affirmative action, browns opinion misreads many voters desire to have equal rights and bring to an end racial quotas.

There was a case where Brown dissented to be able to make it clear that she would limit the avenues of people who are disabled for them to sue for discrimination in employment. He had another case of discrimination which was based on age where he argued that, it was not like sexual or racial discrimination because it does not mark with stigma of inferiority on the victim. (Hohfeld, 1964 pp50-53).

Opinion on Civil Liberties

The public is not intolerant to civil liberties of criminal defendants in criminal justice as it might be expected basing on reports by media that the public strongly  supports death penalty among other salient issues. Therefore, if public is educated on importance of protection offered by civil liberties in criminal procedure, they might be protective to rights of criminal defendants as the society elites.

It is true that, the public is not protective of civil liberties of criminal defendants as legal profession members and decision of Supreme Court in United States. However, there is no great difference, the mass public might lack means, energy and time of gathering reliable information on the importance of civil liberties and this is what causes differences in opinion. In other words, if knowledgeable elites can relay vital information to the public, opinion of mass public can become protective of civil liberties.

The importance of educating public is that informed and active citizenry yields a well functioning society. If members of the public lack adequate information to make judgment; means and time to formulate the judgments, the society’s democratic nature can be questioned. It is argued that the elite in society with more knowledge, means of getting information and enough time to spend in acquiring information, they would be responsible in helping to provide easy access to relevant information to the public who lacks the same access. (Jean, 1988 pp35).

Few members of public access first hand information and others rely on individual to be provided with accurate information. Elite theory of democracy has been criticized because elites are tolerant to deviance the members of public. It was found that one accounts distinguishing characteristics like education and race. Political leaders were not tolerant than the mass public.

One study concluded that, in American states, communist repression come from intolerant elites but not mass public. According to others, elites are actors who are self interested who pass information in order to promote their own advancement and sometimes pass on misleading information. Logic does not support public involvement, regardless of tolerance displayed by mass public. If democracy is defined as society where public will is carried out by leaders of society, there would be no democracy if the public has no informed will.

The public holds explicable opinions collectively where they respond to political events and objective conditions. This is true although public opinions are not deeply held. Many people argue and give evidence that issue of public has already developed and say that, a portion of population has interest in any issue to be encouraged to follow the flow of information on the given issue.

The portion of citizenry that follow the issue to be considered becomes the public of that issue. Therefore, the whole public is not labeled as ignorant when it lacks information and opinion on issues because the public can be guardians of the society which is rationally ignorant. However, if we accept that the public is able to follow flow of information through cues, the fact is that the public is not informed well on political facts and is not becoming tolerant of the groups they do not like. (Hohfeld, 1964 pp 54-6).


Herbert M. and Jean E. (1988): civil rights and civil liberties debated: Englewood cliffs, pp32-40.

Rawls J. (1999): a theory of justice: Belknap press, pp14-18.

Hohfeld W. (1964): fundamental legal conceptions as applied in judicial reasoning: Yale University press, pp 50-56.