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Civil Rights and Civil Liberties


Civil rights and civil liberties have been used interchangeably as many people confuse them to be the same thing while they are two different terms with different means. However, they both ensure individuals’ rights, the big difference being whether the government will take action or not. Civil rights call for the government to act and ensure all the citizens get equal treatment without discrimination based on gender and race, where people are barred from accessing public services or jobs they had applied for. The government needs to intervene and ensure that such cases will not happen as we are all equal, against civil rights (Theoharis, 2018). In contrast, civil liberties are designed to protect the citizens from the government by limiting its actions; a good example is the freedom of speech which every citizen should practice. Civil rights deal with legal protection that arises from the cases of equality and discrimination, which lead to action of injury; they are not Bill of Rights. On the other hand, civil liberties are termed personal freedoms as the Bill of Rights protects citizens. Civil rights and civil liberties have come a long way since the civil war going through phases of amendments; though different, they have the fundamental interest of every individual at heart.

Civil rights give citizens the right to equal and fair treatment to government services, as stated in the US constitution. These civil rights are granted to the citizen through the 14th amendment of the constitution, which took place after the civil war to protect the victims of slavery and the civil war; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 further expanded these rights to equal application of the law to every citizen (Hersch & Shinall, 2015). Cases of gender, race, religion, tribe and sexual orientation come into play which are the main fields where people tend to face a lot of discrimination and unfairness, with one group of people treating others like inferior. The rights call for equal treatment of everyone in public facilities, public education, employment, government services, and housing. When discrimination happens, the judiciary system will come in place and place the correct charges on the oppressor. The world contains people of different characters, with some emulating characters from the societies they were raised from, adopting ill behavior due to bad companies. Some go through other experiences like abusive parents and bullying, turning people’s lives entirely. All these people are in the same society, and a sound system needs to be in place to keep everyone in check no matter the community they come from or the experience they have been through; it is the place of Civil rights to keep society in check, and government action is a vital part of the process a good case study (Bonilla & Rosa, 2015), in the United States vs. City of Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown by the police.

Civil liberties, on the other hand, as civil rights keep society in check, are used to keep the government in check. Both the three arms of government interchangeably keep each other in check. The same case happens with civil rights and civil liberties. Civil liberties are certain rights that the government should not interfere with; they are granted by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to the citizens (Barker et al., 2018). When practicing these rights, people are given the freedom to express themselves without defaming anyone, which is one of the few guidelines. Civil liberties are essential and direct; they include freedom to vote, defending oneself, religion, due process, expression, privacy, speech, press, assembly, marrying, and owning property. Civil liberties were put in place to limit the government’s power from oppressing its citizens. A good case study in New York Times Co vs. the United States took place in1971 when Nixon prevented the company from publishing secret documents (Fernández, 2021). The judiciary, which keeps the executive in check through the supreme court, ruled the act against the freedom of the press as per First Amendment. Civil liberties are put in place to protect people from the government by limiting its actions giving the citizens many rights and freedoms.

In conclusion, civil rights and civil liberties through different should have a good code of ethics that provides society with equality and equity that keeps disorienting every day. They should ensure everyone is treated as the law prescribes, and offenders should be well charged as a lesson to them and other people who want to perform such acts. Gender, racial and sexual assaults have affected society to the extent of even the police killing people of color, its such acts which need to be kept in check, and people taking responsibility for their actions. Good awareness should be created around civil rights and civil liberties to fight the offenses against people’s rights. When society is included in maintaining law and order, it becomes easy for people to report cases or incidents that happen in the communities they live in while people stay silent as other people suffer from discrimination and domestic violence. The constitution’s rights and liberties are vital cornerstones to fighting against discrimination and bias against other people.

Creating balance

The balance between liberties and security has been very delicate in the history of the United States. Criticism has been raised as the government attempts to protect citizens from insecurity and terrorism cases, uses much force, and breaks many civil liberties. Civil liberties, as per the Bill of Rights, grant people the right to privacy, and at the same time, it calls for the government to keep the citizens safe (Waldron, 2017). The government relies on information and intelligence to perform and maintain security while at the same time protecting the countries interest. An excellent example of balancing civil liberties and security is during 9/11, where national security is accused of using interrogations and wiretapping against civil liberties and human rights. Keeping citizens safe and respecting their right to privacy is turning out to be a nightmare that the government and the national security are having trouble delivering and balancing.

Keeping the citizens safe, national security will need a good source of information and intelligence that will help detect any threats before they escalate and turn to a disaster that is hard to control (Cohen–Eliya & Porat, 2017). The case of 9/11, where almost 3 thousand lives were lost, was followed by a set of bills taking place the following year to create a suitable environment for sharing information. In 2004, Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act were passed, where the president was mandated to develop an intelligence and information sharing environment concerning terrorism threats (Bazan, 2004). This information-sharing process should be conducted consistently and applicable with legal standards as per civil liberties and national security. The IRTPA Act states that in no way the process of information sharing and acquiring should break any of the citizen’s civil liberties, as was the case reported during the 9/11 terrorist attack. National security cannot solve evil by subjecting citizens to more evil and violence. Instead, they have legal standards to respect and answer to; failure to this law will take its course and charges placed. National security has the mandate to keep the citizens safe from any insecurity threats with all means necessary while upholding the correct legal standards and protecting their civil liberties.

People’s privacy is one of the critical freedoms in civil liberties, and they are entitled to the privacy of their lives and the information they share. While national security tends to break this right as they want to know what information someone is sharing, with whom, what the information has been used for, and whether they can even see it before it has been shared. That is the highest level of privacy introversions and can even cause more tension than the terrorist attacks, as people will be scared knowing that someone is watching their every move even before they make it. In 2005, an executive order was passed to strengthen the Sharing of Terrorism Information further and protect Americans; the order emphasizes respecting people’s privacy while using the information systems to disseminate any threats from the information they acquire (Bush, 2005). The order relates to the mitigation, disruption, detection, preemption, prevention of terrorist activities while at the same time cooperation of all the government authorities. The case of cybercrime has posed a significant challenge in respecting people’s privacy as criminals use the information and internet systems which is difficult to detect before the damage is done and without the anteversion of their privacy (Elkin-Koren & Haber, 2016). People suffer in the hands of bullying online due to a lack of proper regulation, and this calls for the national security departments to come up with appropriate ways to protect people from such evils taking a deep course in the society while at the same time respecting their civil liberties.

In conclusion, both the government and society should cooperate reasonably in fighting terrorism by creating good channels and an environment for sharing information. This process does not allow the government to invent the privacy of its citizens. Proper awareness should be made on how vital their information is needed to keep the country safe. National security should not practice torturing the citizens in the process of acquiring information as it is against human rights and at the same time taking us to the dark ages where people have even lost their lives for the country to be where it is today.

Safeguarding and Protecting

Civil rights and civil liberties are inherent possession of citizens and should not be treated as gifts from the government. The threats facing civil rights and liberties call for intervention to safeguard and protect them; this means creating a vital institution from the influence of the government to ensure citizens’ rights and liberties are guaranteed and well protected. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties have been in the front line fighting and safeguarding citizens’ rights and liberties. Over the past 100 years, ACLU has been the nation’s guardian of rights and liberties of every United States citizen as guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights; the union now has more than 4 million supporters, activists, and members located in every state of the country (Richards, 2015). The ACLU and Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties work in courts, communities, and legislatures to safeguard individuals’ rights and liberties; they fight to preserve and prevent liberties erosion.

The ACLU is famously known for the famous saying of their founder Roger Baldwin- “So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we’ll be called a democracy.” The organization has fought countless battles even when courts that are supposed to protect people were silent (Weinrib, 2019). They have had some wins, which seemed impossible as discrimination was the norm of the day, whether based on race, gender, and other cases like LGBT, which was unthinkable during that time. Women got the right to vote in August 1920 after the ACLU had been formed the same year, as they fought to make sure the government delivered what was promised in the Bill of Rights, thanks to the LGBT have their rights now and can enjoy civil rights and civil liberties like other citizens (Cottrell, 2016). The union has been the cornerstone of Americans’ rights without discriminating against anyone, whether African-Americans and the case of 110,000 Japanese-Americans who faced concentration camps in 1942 after Japan had attacked the United States during the second world war (White, 2019). The ACLU, Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and the Department of Justice are regulars in the supreme court fighting for human rights and liberties. The ACLU is a nonprofit and nonpartisan union that does not receive funding from the government as they rely on grants and contributions to run the union.

However, through the efforts of the ACLU and the office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, safeguarding steps have been achieved; attainment of freedom during the Age of Technology, amending the Foreign Intelligence Act, whistleblower protection, preventing racial profiling, and improving the rights of people to practice religion. The unions have not had a smooth journey as they keep on facing attacks critics due to some of the groups they protect. In recent times, they have been asked to explain why they defend certain people, controversial groups, and entities like the Nation of Islam, the National Socialist Party of America, and the Ku Klux Klan (Donohue & Wildavsky, 2017). They killed an uncountable number of African-American people in the early 1900s as they also had strong members in the government. The unions, in their defense, say they do not defend the groups or individual actions but their right to free assembly and free expression as guaranteed by the constitution. The organization fights to prevent the erosion of civil rights and civil liberty (Satana & Demirel-Pegg, 2018). Whether criminals or good citizens, your rights and freedoms must be protected; although everyone will own the responsibilities of their actions, the law must be followed appropriately.

In conclusion, the ALCU and the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, through working in the courts, supreme court, and with communities, have brought the actual definition of rights and liberties to many citizens who were already willing to give up their rights and freedom in the name of national security. The unions have fought for many minority groups to have a voice in the country while keeping the government in check. Individuals’ civil rights and civil liberties should be well respected even in times of terrorism threats.

Homeland security

Department of Homeland Security came into existence during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American soil. The aim was to protect the country from foreign terrorist organizations while coordinating and unifying the country’s security efforts. The challenges of terrorism have been evolving and taking new forms, with domestic attacks now causing many threats to national security (Radvanovsky & McDougall, 2018). The department had to adopt better-sophisticated ways to detect, protect against, prevent, and mitigate terrorist attacks before they happen in the first place. Through the attempts to protect the nation from terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security has violated many citizens’ civil liberties. The cases of physical abuse are highly reported when the security departments try to acquire information from citizens or suspects in the name of national security and keep everyone from terrorist attacks (Alston, 2017). Countering terrorism securing US borders and cyberspace remains the primary duty of Homeland security, with civil liberties at the center of every step they take.

Terrorism is one of the many challenges facing the DHS in security matters. They use National Terrorism Advisory System to inform Americans and the Public about any threats. During this process of protecting the US from foreign attacks, the DHS has to secure the countries borders with cases of illegal immigration posing a significant threat. Reports have been filed on how the DHS violates civil liberties in an attempt to end the issue of illegal immigration (Sidhu & Boodoo, 2017). Dealing with cybercrime to protect cyberspace while avoiding privacy intervention is a tremendous challenge to the DHS, which calls for more sophisticated handling of the issue without violating any civil rights and liberties. Violation of rights of immigration enforcement, due process rights, and confidentiality rights are some of the main report violations on individual rights and freedoms. DHS has to look deeper into its tactics of handling terrorism and insecurity threats while at the same time respecting the rights and freedoms of the citizens as stated by the Bill of Rights and Constitution

The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties have received public allegation and claims of discrimination and violation of many civil rights and liberties by the Department of Human Security. Discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, national origin, gender identity, religion, and disability are the prominent cases been reported by the public concerning Homeland security (Ritchie & Jones-Brown, 2017). The form of treatment you will go through depends on who you are, where you are from, lacking fairness in their system of acquiring information hance even escalating the cases of insecurity as they base their intelligence on the emotions you have against someone or group. Such actions violate people’s liberties as they suffer in the hands of the people who should be protecting them.

In conclusion, the Department of Homeland Security needs to be regulated to stop violating individuals’ rights and liberties while at the same time claiming to protect them from violence and terrorist attacks. The department should also have held their officers from violating citizens’ rights and liberties and have the proper law procedures to deal with those of do not adhere to the dignity of the departments. This mistreatment from the security forces leaves permanent scars in people’s lives, and some may end up having mental disorders; it is a critical department that needs to be kept in check and well regulated.


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