Civil Liberties And Rights Essay

778 words - 4 pages

Since the beginning of American history, citizens who resided the country lacked the basic civil rights and liberties that humans deserved. Different races and ethnicities were treated unfairly. Voting rights were denied to anyone who was not a rich, white male. Women were harassed by their bosses and expected to take care of everything household related. Life was not all that pretty throughout America’s past, but thankfully overtime American citizens’ civil liberties and rights expanded – granting Americans true freedom.
Throughout American history, our civil liberties as American citizens have evolved immensely. For example, the first ten amendments in the U.S. Constitution are referred to as the “The Bill of Rights,” which contains some of the most cherished civil liberties, such as freedom of speech and religion. These civil liberties however, did not originally apply to state governments or institutions the state established. The Bill of Rights focused solely on what the national government could not do, allowing state governments to do whatever they wanted. For example, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire supported Congregationalist ministers with tax payer dollars for decades. After the Civil War, civil liberties expanded, because three new amendments were added: the Thirteenth, abolishing slavery, the Fourteenth, which redefined civil liberties and rights, and the Fifteenth, which allowed adult, male citizens to vote. The due process clause (contained in the Fourteenth Amendment) became one of the most important civil liberties, because it applied the language of the Fifth Amendment to state governments, proclaiming that they could not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This statement gave the federal courts a way to fight unconstitutional laws that infringed on the civil liberties of American citizens. Although Americans are guaranteed certain civil liberties, many states still ignore a few provisions of the Bill of Rights and certain liberties have specific limitations. For example, citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech as long as it is not slander or presenting imminent and lawless behavior, however Americans have often been punished directly or indirectly for expressing controversial thoughts.
As civil liberties in America evolved, American citizens’ civil rights continued to change as well. Civil rights guarantee everyone equal treatment under the...

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