Civil Rights and American Politics. What are civil rights? Modern term-historic roots. 2. Founders were concerned about “natural rights” -Jefferson: “inalienable rights” -Colonists: taxation w/o representation=tyranny -The term “civil rights” wasn’t in use, but they
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2. Founders were concerned about “natural rights”
-Jefferson: “inalienable rights”
-Colonists: taxation w/o representation=tyranny
-The term “civil rights” wasn’t in use, but they
certainly had a notion of civic rights regarding
participation, expression, & representation.
over the definition of civil rights. The republic
becomes an exercise in defining those rights.
Who gets to vote? How should we think about
slavery? And more.
4. What is the difference between “civil rights” and “civil liberties”?
- civil liberties = fundamental personal freedoms that lie beyond government interference
-the biggest problem=protection from government
-Includes the rights of individuals in their relations with others: freedom from bondage or intimidation, freedom to enter into contracts and own property, equal educational and economic opportunities, and more.
6. Hence, civil liberties need protection FROM govt.
But civil rights frequently depend on government intervention for their provision.
8. The culmination of the bloodiest war in American history, the Civil War, is reached in the adoption of the three Civil War amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Slavery is outlawed, citizenship and the right to vote are defined.
10. Equal protection of laws is the stuff of Civil Rights, and hence the 14th Amendment makes it the responsibility of the national government to secure people’s civil rights, and in the process redefines American federalism.
12. The end of reconstruction in the 1870s gave rise to an assault on the 14th Amendment via Jim Crow laws.
13. Jim Crow is constitutionally institutionalized with Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and the rise of “separate but equal.”
15. This strategy ultimately pays off in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which ruled that, in the area of education, separate is INHERENTLY UNEQUAL.
17. Why are these issues so difficult? Part of the reason lies in a dual commitment to equality and equal protection as well as to individual freedom. Indeed, some of these problems are an outgrowth of a system that embraces BOTH democracy and capitalism.