What is the definition of Civil Rights?
Civil Rights, according to the Meriam Webster dictionary definition is: “the nonpolitical rights of a citizen.”
Encyclopedia Brittanica defines civil rights a bit differently: “They are guarantees of equal social opportunities and protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, or other characteristics.”
What Civil Rights do US citizens have?
According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services a US citizen has the following civil rights:
1. The right to vote.
2. The right to an education
3. The right to run for office
4. Priority consideration to bring non-citizens to the country
5. Serve on a federal jury
6. Have a US passport
7. Apply for specific federal jobs
8. Be eligible for Federal grants and scholarships
9. Obtain certain federal benefits.
Are there any other civil rights?
Yes. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII (often shortened to “Title VII”)
- Prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in hiring, promoting, and firing.
- Made discrimination in public accommodations and federally funded programs illegal.
- Strengthened the enforcement of voting rights and the desegregation of schools.
- Entitled all persons the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation.
- We encourage you to read the original law for yourself to know your civil rights.
Notably, there is a distinction between civil rights and civil liberties. Lawyers can work to ensure that you have both.
1964? That’s a long time ago. Have there been updates since then?
Yes. Congress passed several new laws, and courts have made many judicial decisions since 1964. Many of these actions have increased civil rights in the United States. For example, in 1991, an update to the civil rights act clarified otherwise unclear portions of the 1964 act. The most significant advance made by the Civil rights Act of 1991 was in employment law. This act strengthened the 1964 act’s prohibition against discrimination for job applicants and workers based on race, gender, religion, color, or ethnic characteristics. The additional strengths granted included the ability for accusers to have their day in court against employers they felt had discriminated against them. Further, this act also allowed for punitive damages based on emotional distress.
1991 Still seems like a long time. What changes have been made since then?
Since 1991 there have been several changes to civil rights laws. Many have taken place through decisions handed down by the courts. Unfortunately, we have seen adverse decisions replace some positive decisions. It is therefore difficult to predict what will happen in the future. A prime example is the LGBTQ community’s civil right to marriage. In the 1990s, while civil unions were allowed at the Federal level, no states allowed two same-gender individuals to marry. This created a sort of “separate but equal” scenario. In 1996 the “Defense of Marriage Act” was signed into law, effectively denying the LGBTQ couples from enjoying 1,100 Federal benefits afforded to married couples. In 2008, California successfully allowed for same-sex marriage, only to have it struck down by Proposition 8. Finally, in 2013, the supreme court declared Prop 8 unconstitutional in the Hollingsworth v. Perry decision. The history of same-sex marriage laws and court decisions shows just how fragile civil rights can be.
In recent years, there have also been significant court cases that have slowly changed the tide of police brutality. However, many more advances need to happen for complete equality to exist. This is where civil rights attorneys are helpful. The K Altman Law team is dedicated to filing suits and fighting for civil rights causes. We are here to hold your hand through the litigation process. We understand that you may have been experiencing civil rights injustices all your life but never had the time or patience to launch a fight. But, rest assured that civil rights cases are on our hearts and are the center of our practice. We are here to help you with your civil rights case.
Why do we need civil rights lawyers?
Civil rights lawyers advocate for all citizens to have equal rights that are given to them by the U.S. Constitution. They advocate for their client’s rights under both statutory and common laws. Keith Altman and his team at K Altman law are fierce advocates for every individual’s rights. No matter their race, gender, sexuality, or religion the K Altman team will listen to your concerns and work with you to find a path towards assuring your civil rights.
So not all citizens have equal civil rights?
What are the current Civil Rights Fights?
Non-binary people have the right to their gender rather than choosing one that does not feel right to them.
Access to health care
Clean water, air, and land