Civil liberties

Civil liberties or personal freedoms are personal guarantees and freedoms that the government cannot abridge, either by law or by judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may include the freedom of conscience, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to security and liberty, freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to equal treatment under the law and due process, the right to a fair trial, and the right to life. Other civil liberties include the right to own property, the right to defend oneself, and the right to bodily integrity. Within the distinctions between civil liberties and other types of liberty, distinctions exist between positive liberty/positive rights and negative liberty/negative rights.

Overview

Li-ber-ty
Broken Liberty: Istanbul Archaeology Museum

Many contemporary states have a constitution, a bill of rights, or similar constitutional documents that enumerate and seek to guarantee civil liberties. Other states have enacted similar laws through a variety of legal means, including signing and ratifying or otherwise giving effect to key conventions such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The existence of some claimed civil liberties is a matter of dispute, as are the extent of most civil rights. Controversial examples include property rights, reproductive rights, and civil marriage. The degree that democracies have involved themselves in needs to take into fact the influence of terrorism.[1] Whether the existence of victimless crimes infringes upon civil liberties is a matter of dispute. Another matter of debate is the suspension or alteration of certain civil liberties in times of war or state of emergency, including whether and to what extent this should occur.

The formal concept of civil liberties is often dated back to Magna Carta, an English legal charter agreed in 1215 which in turn was based on pre-existing documents, namely the Charter of Liberties.[2]

Asia

China

The Constitution of People's Republic of China (which applies only to mainland China, not to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), especially its Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens, claims to protect many civil liberties. Taiwan, which is separated from China, has its own Constitution.

India

The Fundamental Rights—embodied in Part III of the constitution—guarantee liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace as citizens of India. The six fundamental rights are right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights and right to constitutional remedies.[3]

Dyfikolkata (54)
Huge rallies like this one in Kolkata are commonplace in India.

These include individual rights common to most liberal democracies, incorporated in the fundamental law of the land and are enforceable in a court of law. Violations of these rights result in punishments as prescribed in the Indian Penal Code, subject to discretion of the judiciary. These rights are neither absolute nor immune from constitutional amendments. They have been aimed at overturning the inequalities of pre-independence social practices. Specifically, they resulted in abolishment of un-touchability and prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. They forbid human trafficking and unfree labour. They protect cultural and educational rights of ethnic and religious minorities by allowing them to preserve their languages and administer their own educational institutions.

All people, irrespective of race, religion, caste or sex, have the right to approach the High Courts or the Supreme Court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights. It is not necessary that the aggrieved party has to be the one to do so. In public interest, anyone can initiate litigation in the court on their behalf. This is known as "Public interest litigation".[4] High Court and Supreme Court judges can also act on their own on the basis of media reports.

The Fundamental Rights emphasize equality by guaranteeing to all citizens the access and use of public institutions and protections, irrespective of their background. The rights to life and personal liberty apply for persons of any nationality, while others, such as the freedom of speech and expression are applicable only to the citizens of India (including non-resident Indian citizens).[5] The right to equality in matters of public employment cannot be conferred to overseas citizens of India.[6]

Fundamental Rights primarily protect individuals from any arbitrary State actions, but some rights are enforceable against private individuals too.[7] For instance, the constitution abolishes untouchability and prohibits begar. These provisions act as a check both on State action and actions of private individuals. Fundamental Rights are not absolute and are subject to reasonable restrictions as necessary for the protection of national interest. In the Kesavananda Bharati vs. state of Kerala case, the Supreme Court ruled that all provisions of the constitution, including Fundamental Rights can be amended.[8] However, the Parliament cannot alter the basic structure of the constitution like secularism, democracy, federalism, separation of powers. Often called the "Basic structure doctrine", this decision is widely regarded as an important part of Indian history. In the 1978 Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India case, the Supreme Court extended the doctrine's importance as superior to any parliamentary legislation.According to the verdict, no act of parliament can be considered a law if it violated the basic structure of the constitution. This landmark guarantee of Fundamental Rights was regarded as a unique example of judicial independence in preserving the sanctity of Fundamental Rights. The Fundamental Rights can only be altered by a constitutional amendment, hence their inclusion is a check not only on the executive branch, but also on the Parliament and state legislatures.[9] The imposition of a state of emergency may lead to a temporary suspension of the rights conferred by Article 19 (including freedoms of speech, assembly and movement, etc.) to preserve national security and public order. The President can, by order, suspend the constitutional written remedies as well.

Japan

Since 1947, Japan, a country with a constitutional monarchy and known for its socially “conservative society where change is gradual,” has a constitution with a seemingly strong bill of rights at its core (Chapter III. Rights and Duties of the People).[10] In many ways, it resembles the U.S. Constitution prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that is because it came into life during the Allied occupation of Japan. This constitution may have felt like a foreign imposition to the governing elites, but not to the ordinary people "who lacked faith in their discredited leaders and supported meaningful change."[11] In the abstract, the constitution strives to secure fundamental individual liberties and rights, which are covered pointedly in articles 10 to 40. Most salient of the human dignity articles is article 25, section 1, which guarantees that all “people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.”[12]

Despite, the adoption of this liberal constitution, often referred as the "Postwar Constitution" (戦後憲法, Sengo-Kenpō) or the "Peace Constitution" (平和憲法, Heiwa-Kenpō), the Japanese governing elites have struggled to usher in an inclusive, open and Pluralist society.[13] Even after the end of World War II and the departure of the Allied government of occupation in 1952, Japan has been the target of international criticism for failing to admit to war crimes, institutional religious discrimination and maintaining a weak freedom of the press, the treatment of children, minorities, foreigners, and women, its punitive criminal justice system, and more recently, the systematic bias against LGBT people.[14][15][16]

The first Japanese attempt to a bill of rights was in the 19th century Meiji constitution (1890), which took both the Prussian (1850) and British constitutions as basic models.[17] However, it had but a meager influence in the practice of the rule of law as well as in people’s daily living. So, the short and deliberately gradual history of struggles for personal rights and protection against government/society's impositions has yet to transform Japan into a champion of universal and individual freedom.[18][19][20] According to constitutional scholar, Shigenori Matsui,

People tend to view the bill of rights as a moral imperative and not as a judicial norm. The people also tend to rely upon bureaucrats to remedy social problems, including even human rights violations, rather than the court.

— Shigenori Matsui, “The protection of ‘Fundamental human rights’ in Japan.”[21]

Despite the divergences between Japan's social culture and the Liberal Constitutionalism that it purports to have adopted, the country has moved toward closing the gap between the notion and the practice of the law. The trend is more evident in the long term. Among several examples, the Diet (bicameral legislature) ratified the International Bill of Human Rights in 1979 and then it passed the Law for Equal Opportunity in Employment for Men and Women in 1985, measures that were heralded as major steps toward a democratic and participatory society. In 2015, moreover, it reached an agreement with Korea to compensate for abuses related to the so-called “women of comfort” that took place during the Japanese occupation of the peninsula.[22] However, human rights group, and families of the survivors condemned the agreement as patronizing and insulting.[23]

On its official site, the Japanese government has identified various human rights problems. Among these are child abuses (e.g., bullying, corporal punishment, child sexual abuse, child prostitution, and child pornography), frequent neglect and ill-treatment of elderly persons and individuals with disabilities, Dowa claims (discrimination against the Burakumin), Ainu people (indigenous people in Japan), foreign nationals, HIV/AIDS carriers, Hansen's disease patients, persons released from prison after serving their sentence, crime victims, people whose human rights are violated using the Internet, the homeless, individuals with gender identity disorders, and women. Also, the government lists systematic problems with gender biases and the standard reference to sexual preferences for jobs and other functions in society.[24]

Human rights organizations, national and foreign, expand the list to include human rights violations that relate to government policies, as in the case of daiyo kangoku system (substitute prison) and the methods of interrogating crime suspects.[25] The effort of these agencies and ordinary people seem to pay off. In 2016, the U.S. Department of State released a report stating that Japan's human right record is showing signs of improvement.[26]

Australia

Although Australia does not have an enshrined Bill of Rights or similar binding legal document, civil liberties are assumed as protected through a series of rules and conventions. Australia was a key player and signatory to the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948)

The Constitution of Australia (1900) does offer very limited protection of rights:

  • the right to freedom of religion and;
  • the right to freedom from discrimination based on out-of-state residence (historical prejudice based upon residence within one state affecting treatment within another)

Certain High Court interpretations of the Constitution have allowed for implied rights such as freedom of speech and the right to vote to be established, however others such as freedom of assembly and freedom of association are yet to be identified.

Refugee issues

Within the past decade Australia has experienced increasing contention regarding its treatment of those seeking asylum. Although Australia is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention (1951), successive governments have demonstrated an increasing tightening of borders; particularly against those who seek passage via small water vessels.

The Abbott Government (2013) like its predecessors (the Gillard and Howard Governments) has encountered particular difficulty curbing asylum seekers via sea, increasingly identified as "illegal immigration". The recent involvement of the Australian Navy in refugee rescue operations has many human rights groups such as Amnesty International concerned over the "militarisation" of treatment of refugees. The current "turn-back" policy is particularly divisive, as it involves placing refugees in government lifeboats and turning them towards Indonesia. Despite opposition however, the Abbott government's response has so far seen a reduction in the amount of potential refugees undertaking the hazardous cross to Australia, which is argued by the government as an indicator for its policy success.

Europe

European Convention on Human Rights

The European Convention on Human Rights, to which almost all European countries belong (apart from Belarus), enumerates a number of civil liberties and is of varying constitutional force in different European states.

Czech Republic

Following the Velvet Revolution, a constitutional overhaul took place in Czechoslovakia. In 1991, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms was adopted, having the same legal standing as the Constitution. The Czech Republic has kept the Charter in its entirety following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia as Act No. 2/1993 Coll. (Constitution being No. 1).

France

France's 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen listed many civil liberties and is of constitutional force.

Germany

The German constitution, the "Grundgesetz" (lit. "Base Law"), starts with an elaborate listing of civil liberties and states in sec. 1 "The dignity of man is inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all public authority." Following the "Austrian System", the people have the right to appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ("Bundesverfassungsgericht") if they feel their civil rights are being violated. This procedure has shaped German law considerably over the years.

United Kingdom

Civil liberties in the United Kingdom date back to Magna Carta in 1215 and 17th century common law and statute law, such as the 1628 Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and the Bill of Rights 1689. Parts of these laws remain in statute today and are supplemented by other legislation and conventions that collectively form the uncodified Constitution of the United Kingdom. In addition, the United Kingdom is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights which covers both human rights and civil liberties. The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the great majority of Convention rights directly into UK law.

In June 2008 the then Shadow Home Secretary David Davis resigned his parliamentary seat over what he described as the "erosion of civil liberties" by the then Labour government, and was re-elected on a civil liberties platform (although he was not opposed by candidates of other major parties). This was in reference to anti-terrorism laws and in particular the extension to pre-trial detention, that is perceived by many to be an infringement of habeas corpus established in Magna Carta.

Russia

The Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees in theory many of the same rights and civil liberties as the U.S. except to bear arms, i.e.: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and assembly, freedom to choose language, to due process, to a fair trial, privacy, freedom to vote, right for education, etc. However, human rights groups like Amnesty International have warned that Vladimir Putin has seriously curtailed freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association amidst growing authoritarianism.[27]

North America

Canada

The Constitution of Canada includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees many of the same rights as the U.S. constitution, with the notable exceptions of protection against establishment of religion. However, the Charter does protect freedom of religion. The Charter also omits any mention of, or protection for, property.

United States

The United States Constitution, especially its Bill of Rights, protects civil liberties. The passage of the Fourteenth Amendment further protected civil liberties by introducing the Privileges or Immunities Clause, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause. Human rights within the United States are often called civil rights, which are those rights, privileges and immunities held by all people, in distinction to political rights, which are the rights that inhere to those who are entitled to participate in elections, as candidates or voters.[28] Before universal suffrage, this distinction was important, since many people were ineligible to vote but still were considered to have the fundamental freedoms derived from the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This distinction is less important now that Americans enjoy near universal suffrage, and civil liberties are now taken to include the political rights to vote and participate in elections. Because Indian tribal governments retain sovereignty over tribal members, the U.S. Congress in 1968 enacted a law that essentially applies most of the protections of the Bill of Rights to tribal members, to be enforced mainly by tribal courts.[29]

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was signed into effect by President Ronald Reagan on August 10, 1988. The act was passed by Congress to issue a public apology for those of Japanese ancestry who lost their property and liberty due to discriminatory actions by the United States Government during the internment period.

This act also provided many other benefits within various sectors of the government. Within the treasury it establishes a civil liberties public education fund. It directs the Attorney General to identify and locate each individual affected by this act and to pay them $20,000 from the civil liberties public education fund. It also established a board of directors who is responsible for making disbursements from this fund. Finally, it requires that all documents and records that are created or received by the commission be kept in the United States archives.[30]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Hunter, Lance Y. (2015-09-18). "Terrorism, Civil Liberties, and Political Rights: A Cross-National Analysis". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 39 (2): 165–193. doi:10.1080/1057610x.2015.1084165. ISSN 1057-610X.
  2. ^ Hugh Starkey, Professor of Citizenship and Human Rights Education at UCL Institute of Education, London. "Magna Carta and Human rights legislation". British Library. Retrieved 22 November 2016.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Constitution of India-Part III Fundamental Rights.
  4. ^ "Bodhisattwa Gautam vs. Subhra Chakraborty; 1995 ICHRL 69". [World Legal Information Institute]. Retrieved 2006-05-25. This was the case where public interest litigation was introduced (date of ruling 15 December 1995).
  5. ^ Tayal, B.B. & Jacob, A. (2005), Indian History, World Developments and Civics, p. A-25
  6. ^ "Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2003" (PDF). Rajya Sabha. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-04-25. Retrieved 2006-05-25.
  7. ^ "Bodhisattwa Gautam vs. Subhra Chakraborty; 1995 ICHRL 69". [World Legal Information Institute]. Retrieved 2006-05-25. This was the case where Fundamental Rights were enforced against private individuals (date of ruling 15 December 1995).
  8. ^ Kesavananda Bharati vs. state of Kerala; AIR 1973 S.C. 1461, (1973) 4 SCC 225 – In what became famously known as the "Fundamental Rights case", the Supreme Court decided that the basic structure of the constitution was unamendable.
  9. ^ Tayal, B.B. & Jacob, A. (2005), Indian History, World Developments and Civics, p. A-24
  10. ^ Ellington, Lucien (2002). apan: A Global Studies Handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 209. ISBN 978-1576072714.
  11. ^ Law, David S., The Myth of the Imposed Constitution (May 26, 2013). The Social and Political Foundations of Constitutions (Denis Galligan & Mila Versteeg eds., Cambridge University Press 2013, pp. 239-68); Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-05-01. Available at SSRN:http://ssrn.com/abstract=2270399
  12. ^ Yokota, Yozo, & Chiyuki Aoi (2000). "Japan's foreign policy towards human rights: uncertain changes" (PDF). Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy: Foundations of Peace, Edited by David Forsythe. United Nations University Press: Chapter 5.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Haddad, Mary Alice (2012). Building Democracy in Japan. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-1107014077.
  14. ^ "Japan veering away from global human rights standards, says Amnesty International". The Japan Times. Kyodo News. February 25, 2015. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  15. ^ Suzanne Trimel (July 25, 2014). "UN Urges End to Discrimination Against LGBT Individuals in Japan". Analysis. Outright International. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  16. ^ Osumi, Magdalena (June 26, 2015). "U.S. rights report slams Japan on child abuse, prison conditions, asylum system". News report. Japan Times. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  17. ^ Kazuhiro Takii and David Noble, The Meiji Constitution: The Japanese Experience of the West and the Shaping of the Modern State (Tokyo, Japan: International House of Japan, 2007), 181.
  18. ^ Andrew Gordon, Postwar Japan As History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993, p. 91.
  19. ^ Henderson, Dan Fenno (2015). "Chapter 11: Law and Political Modernization in Japan". In Ward, Robert E. Political Development in Modern Japan: Studies in the Modernization of Japan. Princeton University Press. pp. 441–45. ISBN 978-1400871667. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  20. ^ Ugo Dessì, Japanese Religions and Globalization. London: Routledge, 2013, p. 64.
  21. ^ “The protection of ‘Fundamental human rights’ in Japan,” a chapter in Human Rights in Asia: A Comparative Legal Study of Twelve Asian Jurisdictions, France and the USA, edited by Peerenboom, R. P., Carole Petersen, and Hongyi Chen (London: Routledge, 2006), 149
  22. ^ "Japan and South Korea agree WW2 'comfort women' deal". BBC. December 28, 2015. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  23. ^ Sanghani, Radhika (December 29, 2015). "The horrific story of Korea's 'comfort women' - forced to be sex slaves during World War Two". Telegraph. London. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  24. ^ Government of Japan (March 6, 2009). "Major Human Rights Problems". Human Rights Bureau. Ministry of Justice, Japan. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  25. ^ Jeffrey Flynn, Reframing the Intercultural Dialogue on Human Rights: A Philosophical Approach (London: Routledge, 2014), 114.
  26. ^ Wanklyn, Alastair (April 14, 2016). "Japan human rights improve but problems persist: U.S. State Department". Japan Times. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  27. ^ Putin rolling back civil rights, warns Amnesty | World news | The Guardian
  28. ^ America's Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amar
  29. ^ Robert J. McCarthy, Civil Rights in Tribal Courts; The Indian Bill of Rights at 30 Years, 34 IDAHO LAW REVIEW 465 (1998).
  30. ^ Foley, Thomas (1988). "Civil Liberties Act of 1987 - Conference Report". Congress.gov. Retrieved 2015-06-18.

Further reading

External links

American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Officially nonpartisan, the organization has been supported and criticized by liberal and conservative organizations alike. The ACLU works through litigation and lobbying and it has over 1,200,000 members and an annual budget of over $100 million. Local affiliates of the ACLU are active in almost all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The ACLU provides legal assistance in cases when it considers civil liberties to be at risk. Legal support from the ACLU can take the form of direct legal representation or preparation of amicus curiae briefs expressing legal arguments when another law firm is already providing representation.

In addition to representing persons and organizations in lawsuits, the ACLU lobbies for policy positions that have been established by its board of directors. Current positions of the ACLU include: opposing the death penalty; supporting same-sex marriage and the right of LGBT people to adopt; supporting birth control and abortion rights; eliminating discrimination against women, minorities, and LGBT people; supporting the rights of prisoners and opposing torture; and opposing government preference for religion over non-religion, or for particular faiths over others.

Legally, the ACLU consists of two separate but closely affiliated nonprofit organizations: the American Civil Liberties Union, a 501(c)(4) social welfare group, and the ACLU Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Both organizations engage in civil rights litigation, advocacy, and education, but only donations to the 501(c)(3) foundation are tax deductible, and only the 501(c)(4) group can engage in unlimited political lobbying. The two organizations share office space and employees.

Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union

Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 535 U.S. 564 (2002) (also called Ashcroft v. ACLU), was a 2002 United States Supreme Court case involving the American Civil Liberties Union and the United States government regarding the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). The unconstitutionality of the law was ultimately upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, while earlier injunctions against the law by that same court were at first dismissed by but later upheld by the Supreme Court. Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (2002) dealt with a similar law, the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA).COPA was Congress's second attempt to criminalize the Internet distribution of what it considered pornography, including simulated pornography and artwork.

COPA enforced penalties of a $50,000 fine and six months in prison for the posting for "commercial purposes" of content on the internet that is "harmful to minors". Material that is "harmful to minors" is defined as:

any communication, picture, image, graphic image file, article, recording, writing, or other matter of any kind that is obscene or that—(A) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, taking the material as a whole and with respect to minors, is designed to appeal to, or is designed to pander to, the prurient interest;

(B) depicts, describes, or represents, in a manner patently offensive with respect to minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, an actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual act, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals or post-pubescent female breast; and

(C) taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors." §231(e)(6).

Bond v. Floyd

Bond v. Floyd, 385 U.S. 116 (1966), was a United States Supreme Court case.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA; French: Association Canadienne des Libertés Civiles) is a nonprofit organization in Canada devoted to the defence of civil liberties and constitutional rights.

Civil Liberties Act of 1988

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (Pub.L. 100–383, title I, August 10, 1988, 102 Stat. 904, 50a U.S.C. § 1989b et seq.) is a United States federal law that granted reparations to Japanese Americans who had been interned by the United States government during World War II. The act was sponsored by California's Democratic Congressman Norman Mineta, an internee as a child, and Wyoming's Republican Senator Alan K. Simpson, who first met Mineta while visiting an internment camp. The third co-sponsor was California Senator Pete Wilson. The bill was supported by the majority of Democrats in Congress, while the majority of Republicans voted against it. The act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

The act granted each surviving internee about US$20,000 in compensation (or, $40,000 after inflation-adjustment in 2016 dollars), with payments beginning in 1990. The legislation stated that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership" as opposed to legitimate security reasons. A total of 82,219 received redress checks.Because the law was restricted to American citizens, or legal permanent residents, the ethnic Japanese that had been taken from their homes in Latin America (mostly from Peru), were not covered in the reparations, and regardless of whether they remained in the United States, returned to Latin America, or were deported to Japan after the war. In 1996, Carmen Mochizuki filed a class-action lawsuit, and won a settlement of around $5,000 per person to those eligible from what was left of the funds from the CLA. One hundred forty-five of those affected were able to receive the $5,000 settlement before the funds ran out. In 1999, funds were approved for the attorney general to pay out to the rest of the claimants.

Civil and political rights

Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.

Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples' physical and mental integrity, life, and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, color, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, religion, and disability; and individual rights such as privacy and the freedoms of thought, speech, religion, press, assembly, and movement.

Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, the right of self-defense, and the right to vote.

Civil and political rights form the original and main part of international human rights. They comprise the first portion of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (with economic, social, and cultural rights comprising the second portion). The theory of three generations of human rights considers this group of rights to be "first-generation rights", and the theory of negative and positive rights considers them to be generally negative rights.

Civil libertarianism

Civil libertarianism is a strain of political thought that supports civil liberties, or which emphasizes the supremacy of individual rights and personal freedoms over and against any kind of authority (such as a state, a corporation, social norms imposed through peer pressure and so on). Civil libertarianism is not a complete ideology—rather, it is a collection of views on the specific issues of civil liberties and civil rights.

Civil liberties in the United Kingdom

Civil liberties in the United Kingdom have a long and formative history. This is usually considered to have begun with Magna Carta of 1215, a landmark document in British constitutional history. Development of civil liberties advanced in common law and statute law in the 17th and 18th centuries, notably with the Bill of Rights 1689. During the 19th century, working-class people struggled to win the right to vote and join trade unions. Parliament responded with new legislation, and attitudes to universal suffrage and liberties progressed further in the aftermath of the first and second world wars. Since then, the United Kingdom's relationship to civil liberties has been mediated through its membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. The United Kingdom, through Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, led the drafting of the Convention, which expresses a traditional civil libertarian theory. It became directly applicable in UK law with the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998.

The relationship between human rights and civil liberties is often seen as two sides of the same coin. A right is something you may demand of someone, while a liberty is freedom from interference by another in your presumed rights. However, human rights are broader. In the numerous documents around the world, they involve more substantive moral assertions on what is necessary, for instance, for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", "to develop one's personality to the fullest potential" or "protect inviolable dignity". "Civil liberties" are certainly that, but they are distinctly civil, and relate to participation in public life. As Professor Conor Gearty writes,

Civil liberties is another name for the political freedoms that we must have available to us all if it to be true to say of us that we live in a society that adheres to the principle of representative, or democratic, government.

In other words, civil liberties are the "rights" or "freedoms" which underpin democracy. This usually means the right to vote, the right to life, the prohibition on torture, security of the person, the right to personal liberty and due process of law, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Civil liberties in the United States

Civil liberties in the United States are certain unalienable rights retained by (as opposed to privileges granted to) citizens of the United States under the Constitution of the United States, as interpreted and clarified by the Supreme Court of the United States and lower federal courts. Civil liberties are simply defined as individual legal and constitutional protections from entities more powerful than an individual, for example, parts of the government, other individuals, or corporations. The liberties explicitly defined, make up the Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and the right to privacy. There are also many liberties of people not defined in the Constitution, as stated in the Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The extent of civil liberties and the periphery of the population of the United States who had access to these liberties has expanded over time. For example, the Constitution did not originally define who was eligible to vote, allowing each state to determine who was eligible. In the early history of the U.S., most states allowed only white male adult property owners to vote (about 6% of the population). The 'Three-Fifths Compromise' allowed the southern slaveholders to consolidate power and maintain slavery in America for eighty years after the ratification of the Constitution. And the Bill of Rights had little impact on judgements by the courts for the first 130 years after ratification.

County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union

County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, 492 U.S. 573 (1989), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court considered the constitutionality of two recurring Christmas and Hanukkah holiday displays located on public property in downtown Pittsburgh. The first, a nativity scene (crèche), was placed on the grand staircase of the Allegheny County Courthouse. The second of the holiday display in question was an 18-foot (5.5 m) public Hanukkah menorah, which was placed just outside the City-County Building next to the city's 45-foot (14 m) decorated Christmas tree and a sign saluting liberty. The legality of the Christmas tree display was not considered in this case.

In a complex and fragmented decision, the majority held that the County of Allegheny violated the Establishment Clause by displaying a crèche in the county courthouse, because the "principle or primary effect" of the display was to advance religion within the meaning of Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), when viewed in its overall context. Moreover, in contrast to Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), nothing in the crèche’s setting detracted from that message.

A different majority held that the menorah display did not have the prohibited effect of endorsing religion, given its "particular physical setting". Its combined display with a Christmas tree and a sign saluting liberty did not impermissibly endorse both the Christian and Jewish faiths, but simply recognized that both Christmas and Hanukkah are part of the same winter-holiday season, which, the Court found, had attained a secular status in U.S. society.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, California. The foundation was formed in July, 1990 by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor to promote Internet civil liberties.

EFF provides funds for legal defense in court, presents amicus curiae briefs, defends individuals and new technologies from what it considers abusive legal threats, works to expose government malfeasance, provides guidance to the government and courts, organizes political action and mass mailings, supports some new technologies which it believes preserve personal freedoms and online civil liberties, maintains a database and web sites of related news and information, monitors and challenges potential legislation that it believes would infringe on personal liberties and fair use and solicits a list of what it considers abusive patents with intentions to defeat those that it considers without merit.

EFF also provides tips, tools, how-tos, tutorials, and software for safer online communications.

European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) is a standing committee of the European Parliament that is responsible for protecting civil liberties and human rights, including those of minorities, as listed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Its current chair, elected on 7 July 2014, is Claude Moraes, a British Indian Labour MEP.

Fred Korematsu Day

The Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution is celebrated on January 30 in California to commemorate the birthday of Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American civil rights activist (see Korematsu v. US). It is the first day in U.S. history named after an Asian American. It was signed into law by then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 23, 2010.The day was first commemorated in 2011 at the University of California, Berkeley, as a day recognizing American civil liberties and rights under the Constitution of the United States. Educational materials were also distributed to school teachers for classroom use.The states of Hawaii (2013), Virginia (2015), and Florida (2016) have since followed suit and passed legislative bills recognizing Fred Korematsu Day in perpetuity.

Fred Korematsu Day was also celebrated in Illinois in 2014, but it isn't clear whether then-Gov. Pat Quinn's proclamation extended past the year. Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Utah have submitted resolutions honoring the day, and South Carolina has submitted a bill to their legislature.Google recognized Fred Korematsu Day in 2017 with a Google Doodle by artist Sophie Diao, featuring a patriotic portrait of Korematsu wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom, a scene of the internment camps to his back, surrounded by cherry blossoms, flowers that have come to be symbols of peace and friendship between the US and Japan.

Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review

The Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review is a student-run law review published by Harvard Law School. The journal is published two times per year and contains articles, essays, and book reviews concerning civil rights and liberties. In 2009 its online companion Amicus was launched, which features standard length journal articles coupled with online responses.

Liberty (advocacy group)

Liberty, formerly and still formally called the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), is an advocacy group and membership organisation based in the United Kingdom, which campaigns to challenge injustice, protect civil liberties and promote human rights – through the courts, in Parliament and in the wider community.

The NCCL was founded in 1934 by Ronald Kidd and Sylvia Crowther-Smith (later Scaffardi).Liberty's aim is to not only protect civil liberties but also to engender a "rights culture" within British society.Liberty announced Martha Spurrier as its new director on 31 March 2016.

McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union

McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, 545 U.S. 844 (2005), was a case argued before the Supreme Court of the United States on March 2, 2005. At issue was whether the Court should continue to inquire into the purpose behind a religious display and whether evaluation of the government's claim of secular purpose for the religious displays may take evolution into account under an Establishment Clause of the First Amendment analysis.

In a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that the displays—in this case, a Ten Commandments display at the McCreary County courthouse in Whitley City, Kentucky and a Ten Commandments display at the Pulaski County courthouse—were unconstitutional. The appeal from that decision, argued by Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, urged reformulation or abandonment of the "Lemon test" set forth in Lemon v. Kurtzman, which has been applied to religious displays on government property and to other Establishment Clause issues.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 27, 2005, in a 5–4 decision, that the display was unconstitutional. The same day, the Court handed down another 5–4 decision in Van Orden v. Perry with the opposite outcome. The "swing vote" in the both cases was Justice Stephen Breyer.

People's Union for Civil Liberties

People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) is a human rights body formed in India in 1976 by socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan, as the People's Union for Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights (PUCLDR).

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court unanimously ruled that anti-indecency provisions of the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA) violated the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech. Two Justices concurred in part and dissented in part to the decision. This was the first major Supreme Court ruling on the regulation of materials distributed via the Internet.

Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA

Wikimedia Foundation, et al. v. National Security Agency, et al. is a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation and several other organizations against the National Security Agency (NSA), the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), and other named individuals, alleging mass surveillance of Wikipedia users carried out by the NSA. The suit claims the surveillance system, which NSA calls "Upstream", breaches the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects freedom of speech, and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland as the NSA is based in Fort Meade, Maryland. The suit was dismissed in October 2015 by Judge T. S. Ellis III; this decision was appealed four months later to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals by the Wikimedia Foundation. The Court of Appeals found that the dismissal was valid for all of the plaintiffs except the Foundation, whose allegations the court found "plausible" enough to have legal standing for the case to be remanded to the lower court.The original plaintiffs besides the Wikimedia Foundation were the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, the PEN American Center, the Global Fund for Women, The Nation magazine, the Rutherford Institute, and the Washington Office on Latin America.

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