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Civil Rights Law

Civil rights are some of the most important and controversial rights that a person can have in the world today. Civil rights have always been and continue to be a hot topic in the United States. Civil rights came into the forefront of the United States during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s during the Civil rights riots and the rise and fall of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders and advocates. Civil rights are defined as a class of rights that ensure fairness in law, protection from discrimination in age, gender, religion, sex, race, etc; individual freedom of belief, speech, association, the press, and political participation. Civil rights are outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Other rights that fall under the category of civil rights are the right to privacy, the right to peaceful protest, the right to a fair investigation and trial if accused of a crime, the right to get redress if injured by another, the right to vote, the right to personal freedom, the right to freedom of movement and the right of equal protection. States within the United States are allowed to expand civil rights beyond what are outlined in the Constitution but states are not allowed to diminish civil rights that are outlined in the Constitution.

Two other civil rights that are not found often in other nations other than the United States are the right to bear arms and the right to a jury trial. The right to bear arms is approved in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and the right to a jury trial is approved in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Two of the most important Acts ever passed in the history of the United States are the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial segregation in the United States in schools, public places, and employment. This Act is a landmark piece of legislation that also was amended to protect women as well as explicitly including white people for the first time. The result of this Act was the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The passage and ratification of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also invalidated the Jim Crow Laws of the southern U.S. The Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws in the United States that were enacted from 1876-1965 that enacted a de jure segregation in all public facilities. It created a ‘separate but equal’ status for African Americans and members of other non-white racial groups.

Lyndon B. Johnson was the President of the United States that signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. The bill was originally introduced by former President John F. Kennedy on June 11, 1963 when he made his Civil Rights speech. The passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal for public place to ban people not of the white race from their places of gathering, made it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age or religion as well as prohibited the segregation of schools.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on disability. It was passed in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and was amended in 2008 with changes that will take place on January 1, 2009. In the act, disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. There are five provisions to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 that protect disabled Americans. Those five provisions are employment, public services and public transportation, public accommodations and commercial facilities, telecommunications and miscellaneous provisions.

Some of the most famous people known for their work towards civil rights are Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Bernice Fisher, and Ella Barker just to name a few.

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