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Civil Rights vs Civil Liberties: What's the Difference?

Equal Rights

Did you know there are five civil liberties and ten civil rights? In the U.S., there is a difference between civil rights and civil liberties and it's important to understand what each entails.

Though these can be easily confused and used synonymously, we will help you have an understanding of both because there is a distinct difference. Keep reading and we will guide you through how to distinguish between civil rights vs. civil liberties in the U.S.

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties are guaranteed by the constitution. They were made to ensure that the government isn't controlling all aspects of our life. This is known as tyranny and is when there is oppressive power when all of the power is vested in one ruler.

The five civil liberties include:

  1. Free speech
  2. Freedom of the press
  3. Freedom of religion
  4. Freedom to assemble
  5. Freedom to petition the government

There is a clause about each of these in the constitution and all five are considered essential to a free society.

You can find the section about civil liberties in the Bill of Rights. This contains the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution.

The reason they're in a separate section is that there was discussion about whether the civil liberties should be in there at all, and so they were added at the beginning separate from the document as a whole, but equally if not the most important part.

Civil Rights

Civil rights in the United States are our basic right to not face discrimination. This could be discrimination based on race, gender, or if you have a disability, education, housing, or being able to go to public places.

You are facing a civil rights violation if you are being discriminated against based on one of the protected characteristics listed. Most laws surrounding civil rights are decided by the government through laws congress debates depending on the situation that set the precedent for other cases.

A few examples of civil rights include the below:

  1. Right to vote
  2. Right to a fair trial
  3. Right to government services
  4. Right to public education
  5. Right to use public facilities

A few common examples of civil rights violations include being denied employment because of gender, race, or disability, denying housing because of those three characteristics, hate crimes, and false arrest.

You learn more about the most common types of civil rights violations. The best ways to see the difference between civil liberties and civil rights are to analyze what and who is being afflicted.

For example, you aren't guaranteed in your civil liberties that you will get promoted at work. However, if you're a woman and aren't considered for a promotion because of your gender, that violates your civil rights.

Understanding Civil Rights vs. Civil Liberties

Now that you know the difference between civil rights vs. civil liberties you will have a better understanding of how you or your peers can be affected if these liberties or rights are violated.

It's important to be aware because you can fight it if your rights are being taken away.

Spread the distinction between these two or keep reading from our article library here!


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