Welcome visitors!

Please be aware that this is a student-generated wiki designed for review for my students' AP exams. Come in, look around, and enjoy yourself...just be aware of the nature of this wiki. Even though most everything is correct, I advise caution before citing this as an authoritative source.

Civil Rights


Background Information:
  • Contemporary perception of what natural civil rights are has changed drastically over time due to marked events that change public views:
  • In 1830 Congress passed a law requiring all Indians east of the Mississippi River to move to the Indian Territory west of the river, and the army set about implementing it. Due to the massive number of casualties on the trek, this incident is known as the Trail of Tears.
  • In the 1850s a major political fight broke out in Boston over whether or not the police department should be obliged to hire an Irish officer.
  • Until 1920 women could not vote in most elections (though some women had been granted limited suffrage in certain states and regions).
  • In the 1930s Cornell University Medical School had a strict quota limiting the number of Jewish students who could enroll.
  • In the 1940s the army, at the direction of President FDR removed all Japanese Americans from their homes in California and placed them in relocation centers far from the coast.
  • Prior to the passage of the 14th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 attempted to grant equal rights to African Americans and prohibit employment discrimination. The Act, however, was poorly enforced and had little effect on the lives of African Americans at the time.
  • The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment guarantees civil rights; after the Civil War, the amendment was added to the Constitution to ensure states would not discriminate against former slaves and that the civil liberties of these newly freed individuals would be protected. The amendment provided for due process and equal protection, which allowed the Supreme Court to apply the Bill of Rights to the states (5 Steps to a 5).
  • Prior to the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment all the citizens had were the Bill of Rights, which at the time did not apply to the states (only to the national government).
  • The 14th Amendment allows for the Bill of Rights to be applied to the individual states (and not just the national government) through selective incorporation: The process by which the Supreme Court applies certain parts of the Bill of Rights to the states.
  • Many of the amendments of the Bill of Rights have been incorporated since the passage of the 14th amendment. The 1st, 2nd, some of the 3rd, the 4th, some of the 5th, some of the 6th, some of the 7th, and some of the 8th have been incorporated to the states.

  • The Declaration of Independence, although not a governing document, suggested that the government should have civil rights integrated.(AP U.S. Government and Politics, Barron’s, 2009)
  • Many minorities lay claims to having civil rights denied; along with first amendment cases, civil rights cases were a common trend for a while.
  • Civil rights isn't an issue over if it's okay to treat different people differently, it's a matter of whether these differences in treatment are reasonable.
  • The Supreme Court is usually the host for the expansion of civil rights since people appeal to the courts through cases to declare certain actions and laws unconstitutional as in the case of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s. Congress and the President are harder to appeal to as individual.

Civil Rights vs Civil Liberties
  • Civil liberties are the general term that includes any protections from the abuse of government power (Meltzer and Levy 133).
    • The Constitution and the Bill of Rights contain a list of competing rights and duties.
      • Examples: Dr. Samuel H. Sheppard wanted a fair trial on the charge of having murdered his wife, and two radio commentators wanted to broadcast whatever facts and rumors heard about Dr. Sheppard's love life.
      • Laws requiring higher-income people to pay taxes at a higher rate than lower-income ones are also conflicting. However, the courts ruled classifying people on the basis of their income is not arbitrary or unreasonable. It also helps the public need.
  • Civil rights are specifically describing protection against discrimination based on race, gender, or other minority status (Meltzer and Levy 133).

Civil Rights: The rights of people to be treated without unreasonable or unconstitutional differences (Wilson and Dilulio).
  • Much of this started because of the Civil War, which was fought in part over issue of slavery
    • After Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, civil rights became a hot topic in politics (it had been a much less significant, but still prevalent, topic pre-Civil War, especially among abolitionists)
  • The pertinent question regarding civil rights is not whether the government has the authority to treat people differently; it is whether such differences in treatment are reasonable
  • Cases emerge when some group is denied access to facilities, opportunities, or services that were available to other groups. Civil rights cases generally challenge the government's right to treat certain people differently. Many people get confused with Civil Liberties which are protections against the abuse of Government which is given to the people. Classification is acceptable when measuring economic status because it is legitimate and not unreasonable.
  • Segregation, the separation of different peoples in public institutions based on ethnicity, was commonplace and seen as normal; although blacks were no longer as inferior as to be slaves, they were denied many equal protections that were granted to whites, and faced the implied prejudice of being humans, but lesser ones, everyday. Civil rights were extended to blacks because they are, Constitutionally, man, and equal, which entitles them to the same treatment as their non-colored counterparts, the same being true for any color or race.
  • Civil rights laws increase the scope and power of government since these laws place both restrictions and obligations on individuals and institutions. Many who want to reduce the size of government are uneasy with civil rights laws (Pearson).
  • The public opinion became more understanding and more favorable towards the civil rights movement as time progressed, advancement takes time in all aspects.
  • Suspect Classifications have been defined as classifying people based on their race or ethnicity.
  • Strict scrutiny is the policy the courts have decided to use on suspect classifications. The courts have decided that not all laws making suspect classifications are necessarily unconstitutional, but ought to be subject to close scrutiny. It does not serve a compelling state interest and is not narrowly tailored to achieve any given goal of any vested interest. For example, anything involving treating blacks and whites is inherently a suspect classification and subject to close scrutiny.
  • Now compare strict scrutiny to the Reasonableness Standard, in which it is stated that when the government treats a class of people differently, it must be reasonable and not arbitrary. For example, a law that punishes males and not females with respect to statutory rape is considered reasonable, as males and females are not "similarly situated" with regard to sexual relations.
  • Black-white relations have in large measure defined the problem of civil rights in this country; most of landmark laws and court decisions have involved black claims
  • The strategies employed by or on behalf of African Americans have typically set the pattern for the strategies employed on other groups

The Black Predicament
  • Blacks make up more than 12% of the country – yet only recently could they vote in certain areas, attend integrated schools, ride in the front of buses, buy homes in white neighborhoods
  • Black-white relations were especially bad in the South, where blacks were often the majority
  • Blacks were not allowed to vote at all in many areas; they could vote only with great difficulty in others; and even in those plays where voting was easy, they often lacked the material and institutional support for effective political organization.
  • In order to build up the civil rights movement, blacks needed to both broaden their base through sympathy and move the struggle from Congress to the courts
    • This period lasted from Reconstruction until the 1960's (Wilson).
    • Once African Americans had reached some relative success, the goals of civil rights politics changed from a focus on the denial of fundamental rights to other dominant issues (Wilson).
  • Lynching was were carried out by small groups of vigilantes acting with much ceremony, but others were the actions of frenzied mobs.
    • Between 1882 and 1946, 14,715 people were lynched- three quarters of them were African American. (Wilson)
  • All over the country though, people felt that blacks took jobs and services at the expenses of other, perhaps low income, people (unwanted competition!)
  • In 1942 a national poll showed that only 30 percent of whites thought that black and white children should attend the same schools. ( Wilson 126)
  • If blacks wanted their interests to be shown and fought for, it would be in the Congress. Thanks to white allies they had in the congress.
  • Since white allies were still hard to find for African Americans, there weren't enough in Congress to make much of a difference, so African Americans would either have to recruit more white allies or the issues would have to shift to a political arena in which the opposition had less of an advantage (Wilson 127).
  • Today, there are more blacks [and even other minorities like Hispanics] in Congress than ever before; their numbers are more than double that they used to be around 20-30 or more years ago.

Campaign in the Courts

  • 14th amendment problems
    • broadly it suggests the constitution should be color blind, all should have equal treatment as well as equal rights
    • Equal Protection: all people in state jurisdictions should be given equal protection under the law.
      • This clause guaranteed equality under the law but not social equality (Wilson).
    • Brown v. Board of Education (1954): segregation (in education) fell under the guise of "separate but equal" doctrine, but was found to be false as it promoted a sense of inferiority towards African Americans and was ruled to be unconstitutional.
    • Reed v. Reed (1971): No "rational relationship to a state objective"; can not be based on gender.
    • narrowly it suggests separate but equal is protected

Separate but equal

  • the doctrine established in Plessy v Ferguson that African Americans could constitutionally be kept in separate but equal facilities.
  • the separate by equal doctrine created separate but very unequal facilities.
  • Three years later, the Court applied this doctrine to schools. In Cumming v. Richmond County Board of education, a decision in a Georgian community to close the black high school while keeping open the white school was not a violation of the 14th amendment. They argued that blacks could always go to private school (Wilson).
    • Here the court was implying that school can be separate, and unequal at the same time.
  • blacks usually had the poorer schools and less well kept facilities to use
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed in 1909 to try and get rid of this doctrine cause things were obviously not equal, especially educationally
  • NAACP had a threefold strategy:
    • First, the Court needed to be convinced to declare laws that created schools that were separate but obviously unequal unconstitutional (Wilson 129).
    • Second, the Court needed to be convinced to declare laws, that created schools that were separate but no-so-obviously unequal, as unconstitutional (Wilson 129).
    • Third, the Court needed to be convinced to declare that racially separated schools were unequal and therefore unconstitutional (Wilson 129).

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

  • Chief Justice Earl Warren declared the "separate but equal" clause unconstitutional because segregated schools were "inherently unequal" (129). This overturned the decision made in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" schools were constitutional..
  • Since this was a class-action suit, the ruling of Brown applied to all blacks who were segregated from white schools.
  • Even after the ruling, it was difficult to implement such a controversial decision.
    • Southern states resisted, and the National Guard had to escort blacks to their schools and universities.
    • It is held that the Constitution should be"color-blind", but many people did not think that it was the intent of the Framers.
    • Desegregation and integration was difficult to diffuse simply because the social norms that were in place then that excluded blacks were embedded in the society, so while courts ruled for integration, the public was slow to follow.

Illegal Discrimination*
  1. A state can't set different ages at which men and women can legally become adults
  2. A state can't set different ages at which men and women can allowed to buy alcohol
  3. Women can't be barred from jobs by arbitrary height and weight requirements
  4. Employers can't force women to take mandatory pregnancy leaves
  5. Girls cannot be barred from Little League baseball teams
  6. Business and service clubs, can't exclude women from membership
  7. Though women live longer than men in general, the employer must give men and women the same amount of monthly retirement benefits
  8. High schools must pay the girls' coaches and the guys' coaches the same amount.
*list taken from Wilson and Dilulio's American Government.


Discrimination that is allowed based on sex
  • Discrimination is still allowed in some ways and usually favors the females (except in the military) because of the general mindset that women are inherently weaker than men and therefore must get extra protection under the law. Some examples of this are:
    • Statutory rape law does not have to punish females like it does males
    • Single gender schools are allowed if they are voluntary and equal in quality
    • Widows are given property tax exemptions from states that widowers are not
    • The navy will allow women to remain officers for a greater time then men without being promoted.
    • Congress is allowed to draft men into the military and not draft women.

In recent years the lower courts have been busy dealing with cases of this type. Some examples of decisions are:
  • Public taverns(bars) cannot cater only to men.
  • Girls cannot be barred from non-contact sports in high schools.
  • Hospitals can bar fathers from the delivery room (in recent years this has diminished to instances where the father's presence may be harmful to the mother or baby in delivery)
  • Women can continue to use their maiden names after marriage (Wilson 141).

Becoming a Citizen
  • 5 years of residency or 3 years married to a citizen.
  • Continuous residency since filling of the naturalization petition.
  • Good moral character & knowledge of government, so no criminal offenses or evidence of criminal activity
  • Most citizens are also required to take a test
  • Publicly denounce any and all allegiance to their native country and its leaders.
  • Must not demonstrate any behaviors that do not support order and happiness in the United States
  • A person may still be allowed full citizenship if they sign an oath of allegiance to join the army or defend the country but as a non-combatant due to religious beliefs
    • In some cases, a person residing in the United States can enjoy the full privileges of being a citizen while claiming dual citizenship (a good example is sharing dual citizenship with Canada; a person can travel to and from Canada and enjoy citizens' privileges in both countries.)
  • Today about 97% of aliens who want to become citizens are successful (Wilson and Dilulio).
  • Interesting story about mathematician-logician Kurt Gödel becoming a citizen can be found here.
  • Girouard v. United States (1946): a person cannot be denied citizenship if they sign an oath of allegiance, but are unwilling to take part in direct combat (Findlaw.com)

The Rights of Aliens
  • The Immigration Reform and Control Act gave amnesty to illegal immigrants who had been living in the US before January 1, 1982 (Wilson 146).
  • An illegal immigrant is subject to being deported (Wilson 146).
  • Illegal immigrants have constitutional rights as the constitution does not specify the rights given for citizens, rather the people (Wilson 146).

An alien is defined as a person residing in this country who are not citizens
  • There are certain restrictions and laws that apply only to immigrants.
    • The Immigration and Naturalization Service, for example, has a greater ability to arrest and investigate illegal immigrants as compared to the power that the police may have to do the same with those who are considered citizens. (Wilson and Dilulio 146).[1]
  • Children cannot be excluded from public school
  • Entitled to welfare
  • Cannot be the object of reprisals
  • Entitled to own property
  • They are granted protection on the first amendment and the fourth amendment.
  • States can limit certain jobs to citizens(such as being a police officer or teacher)
  • Cannot vote or run for office
  • Can be barred of employment by president/congress [federal government]
  • States can bar aliens from serving on the jury
  • Illegal aliens are not entitled to obtain social security card.
  • Even though they are illegal, they must pay taxes just as if they were citizens themselves.

Rights of the Disabled
A disabled person is one who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (Wilson 147).
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. Many of the benefits applicable to ethnic minorities and females were now extended to disabled individuals (Wilson and Dilulio 147).[2]
  • Disabled cannot be denied employment if they can perform the requirements.
  • Disabled cannot be denied benefits or partake in government programs
    • Buses, taxis, and trains must be accessible to disabled persons including those in wheelchairs.
  • Disabled must be provided with access to any facility such as a restaurant, stores, schools, parks or a hotel.
  • "The ADA directs the federal communications commissions to issue regulations to ensure telecommunications devices for hearing and speech-impaired people are available"(Wilson and Dilulio).
  • Children with disabilities will receive an "appropriate" education as outlined by the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (5 Steps to a 5)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: businesses with more than 24 employees must make their offices accessible to the disable
  • The application of the benefits and rights for disabled individuals are not exactly comparable in flexibility to that of minorities, such as African Americans under the Civil Rights Act. All institutions must adopt so as to not restrict African Americans not taking into account the cost this may entails, whereas institutions should become accessible to disabled individuals, so as long as there is no paramount loss incurred by the institutions (Wilson and Dilulio 147). [3]

Supreme Court Cases
When challenging the separate-but-equal doctrine, the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people, that was founded in 1909 by a both blacks and whites after a race riot use the following three-step process to challance school segregation.
  • Persuade the Court to declare the laws creating schools that were separate but obviously unequal unconstitutional
    • This was accomplished between 1938 and 1948, in a series of court cases.
      • 1938: Court ruled that Lloyd Gaines, a black student, had to be admitted to an all-white law schol in Missouri because no black law school of equal quality existed in that state.
      • 1948: Court ruled that Ada Lois Sipuel, a black student, had to be admitted to the all-white University of Oklahoma law School, even though the state was in the process of planning to build a black law school.
  • Persuade the Court to declare the laws creating schools that were separate but not necessarily obviously unequal unconstitutional
    • This was accomplished in 1950.
      • Heman Sweatt and George McLaurin, in separate cases, were both admitted to schools that were traditionally all-white, although they both had to stay in areas separate from white students.
  • Persuade the Court to rule that separate schools are inherently unequal and unconstitutional
  • Various Supreme Court Cases regarding the "Black Predicament":
    • Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) ruled that segregated schools and other "separate but equal" facilities were constitutional.
      • The Court's interpretation of the equal-protection clause was that the law guaranteed political and legal equality but not social equality.
      • Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education: applied the "separate but equal" doctrine to schools. When a Georgia community decided to close the black high school while keeping the white high school open, it was ruled as not violating the 14th Amendment.
    • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) ruled that separate schools are not equal and overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson case. The Brown decision is now considered a landmark case in the civil rights battle. The Supreme Court decided that local federal district courts were to supervise the end to segregation with "all deliberate speed". The reasoning behind the Court's choise to overturn the Plessy v. Ferguson case was that the segregated education "has a detrimental effect upon the colored children" (Wilson). The psychological experiment that contributed to the Brown decision went as follows: Kenneth and Mamie Clark performed experiments which asked children to choose, between a white and black baby doll, which they would rather play with, which they associate themselves with, to which they attribute positive attributes. The majority of children answered the white baby doll to all these questions. This suggested that segregation fostered a sense of inferiority among black children and that the children had internalized racism caused by being discriminated against and stigmatized by segregation. The Browndecision was therefore also among the first where sociological evidence was submitted in addition to legal arguments.
      • States did not follow the decision made by the Supreme Court immediately and in one case, the 101st Airborne Division had to escort black students into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The decision to send troops was made by the President.
      • Also in Alabama Governor George Wallace did not allow black students to enter in a school for whites, but was confronted by high officials and stepped aside. However, this mere action shows the extent to which Governor's were willing to go to prevent the end of segregation.


      • Forced the school bored to make plans and actions toward desegregating schools
    • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971) Approved busing and redrawing district lines as ways of integrating public schools (Wilson 134).
      • set guidelines for other cases(according to the study guide, this case resulted in "white flight" to the suburbs)
  • a school system must intend to discriminate to violate the Constitution
  • one race school creates a belief that the school intends to discriminate
  • remedies to pass discrimination are quotas, busing, and redrawing district lines
  • not every school needs to reflect the racial composition of the entire system

Civil right: the rights of people to be treated without unreasonable or unconstitutional differences.
Suspect classifications: classifications of people on the basis of their race or ethnicity.
Strict scrutiny: A Supreme Court test to see if a law denies equal protection because it does not serve a compelling state interest and is not narrowly tailored to achieve that goal. Some say that strict scrutiny is "strict in name, but fatal in practice" (law.cornell.edu)

Racial Profiling
- This refers to the increased likelihood of being a suspect because of race or ethnicity
*In 1998, the head of the state police for New Jersey was fired for saying that African Americans were stopped more frequently than whites because they broke the law more frequently
- This may make sense if people of a particular race are really more likely to commit a crime
- It would, however, be inconvenient for innocent members of the race and could be seen as racism
-According to Wilson, a study of police stops in Oakland, California, by the RAND Corporation showed that the share of blacks being pulled over when the race of the occupants could and could not be determine was about the same.
-African Americans make up 12% of the population, however, until recently, they could not in many parts of the country vote, attend integrated schools, ride in the front seats of buses, or buy homes in white neighborhoods. (Wilson)
According to Wilson, most landmark and court cases involved black claims because black-white relations have largely defined the problem of civil rights in the country.

Segregation vs. Integration:
  • De jure segregation: According to Wilson, “racial segregation that is required by law.” A good example of this is during the time of Jim Crow laws in the southern states. By law, African Americans had to use separate facilities such as schools, bathrooms, restaurants, restrooms, and even drinking fountains. This type of segregation was protected by the government because of the decision made in the Plessy v. Ferguson case which allowed separate but equal facilities to exist resulting in laws like the Jim Crown laws.
  • De facto segregation: According to Wilson,, “racial segregation that occurs in schools, not as a result of the law, but as a result of patterns of residential settlement.” De facto segregation exists when different races separate themselves not by law but by choice or by natural occurrence. This kind of segregation still exists today in the form of "white" and "black" neighborhoods, although it is less frequent and less extreme.
  • In New Kent County, Virginia, the school board created a “freedom-of-choice” plan under which each student would be allowed to attend a school of their choice. The Supreme Court rejected this plan as unconstitutional because it did not produce a “nonracial system of education”.
  • The Court considered a plan in North Carolina under which the students were assigned to the nearest school without regard to race. As a result half the black children now attended formerly all-white schools, with the other half attending all-black schools. The Court held that this was inadequate and ordered some children to be bused to more distant schools to achieve more integration.
  • A primary method of integration is busing, such as forcefully bringing black students to white schools and vice verse
  • A majority of people opposes busing
  • De facto segregation isn't just segregation in school but any type of segregation that naturally happens without a law demanding it. For example, "white flight" causes de facto segregation. This is where rich whites will leave a community for a richer part of town, leaving the blacks with lower-income in the poor part of town. As a result, the communities are segregated.
  • Jim Crow Laws, first enacted in the 1870s, brought legal (de jure) racial segregation against African Americans residing in the South. These laws were legally ended in 1964 by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • However, practices of expecting African Americans to ride in the back of buses or to step aside onto the street if not enough room was present for a Caucasian person and "separate but equal" facilities are instances of continued de facto segregation.
  • Schools cannot be held accountable for segregation due to living patterns and if that was the only case of the segregation, the Court would relinquish its hold on the school.

Demonstrations
  • Many violent demonstrations and riots in many cities took place from 1964 to 1968. this time period was called the "long, hot, summer."
    • For example, the most notable riots were the Los Angeles Watts Riot on August 11, 1965, the Detroit Riot of 1967, and the Harlem Riot of 1964.

Congress Steps In
  • Movements are aimed to change public opinion, by changing public opinion, it "overcomes many congressional barriers"
  • Strong civil rights legislation often takes more time to process.
  • There had to be mobilization of opinion by a dramatic event to get civil rights on the political agenda.
    • Some examples of this are: sit-ins and freedom rides, anything Martin Luther King, Jr. led, and riots
  • Example: Equal Pay Act of 1963: It is against the law to pay employees based off of their gender, race, religion, or national origin. Despite this law, we can still see a wage gap on the basis of sex.
  • Example: Age Discrimination Act of 1967: it is illegal to discriminate for employment based on age, except where an age requirement is essential for the job
  • The passage of the 1964 act was the high point of the legislative struggle. Since then congressional support for civil rights legislation has grown so much that just labeling a bill a civil rights measure almost guarantees its passage. (Wilson 137)
  • The passage of the 26th Amendment has given civil rights advances by lowering the right to vote to 18-year-olds
  • According to Benson and Waples, four developments changed the civil rights movement's chances in Congress:
  1. Public opinion became more favorable towards the movement as the years wore on.
    • The percentage of whites that were okay with allowing the integration of blacks into public schools, which be shared by both races, was growing significantly. This pattern also existed in allowing African Americans to use other public institutions. For example, the percentage of whites okay with the school being half black increased from about 50 percent to 60 percent from 1958 to 1965, in a poll conducted by the Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College (1985, 1977). This upward trend continued in the following years.[4]
  2. Violent reactions by white segregationists received extensive coverage by the media.
    • For example, Eugene Connor, the leader of the police force in Brimingham, Alabama directed the police officers to use dogs and fire hoses to restrict African Americans from protesting against discrimination and segregation in regards to public institutions and employment availability for African Americans (Wilson and Dilulio 136).
    • Drastic events such as this motivated both, African Americans and whites, to oppose racism. There was a growing feeling of opposition to racism at a broader level. This motivation led to events such as the "March on Washington," in which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream Speech" (Wilson and Dilulio 136).
    • The killing of three workers in a campaign opposing racism in Mississippi in which even the sheriff of the area participated, led to a further shift of public opinion. (Wilson and Dilulio 136).[5]
  3. The assassination of President Kennedy, in 1963, gave his successor, President Johnson, a period of strong relations with Congress and mythical hero figure to refer to in promoting civil rights.
  4. The 1964 election was a Democratic landslide that allowed northern Democrats to seize power in Congress.


Civil Disobedience
  • Definition: opposing a law one considers unjust by peacefully disobeying it and accepting resulting punishment
  • While civil disobedience began as peacefully violating the law, the momentum of protesting continued mixed with the anger of black youths caused the emergence of militant groups and racial violence from 1964 to 1968.
    • Ex: disobeying a law that requires blacks to ride in a segregated section of a bus and allowing oneself to be arrested.
    • Martin Luther King Jr. advocated this type of protest; this idea was also used by Gandhi in India
    • Henry David Thoreau was the first to advocate these actions.

Examples of Civil Disobedience
  • Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man and being arrested
  • The lunch table sit-ins to protest segregation
  • 'Freedom rides" in the South against segregation on the bus
  • Refusal of some to enlist in the Vietnam War.
  • Demonstrations by students protesting the Vietnam war.
  • The Boston Tea Party in which citizens got on a British ship and dumped imported tea overboard to protest paying taxes without representation.
  • Gandhi's hunger strikes

Women's Rights
  • Origins are from the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848
    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized and led this convention.
    • Convention adopted resolutions calling for the abolition of legal, economic and social discrimination against women.
  • The publication of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique in 1963 sparked the feminist movement
  • Women pursued a campaign against traditional laws that protected them
    • Congress responded by passing laws that required equal pay for equal work, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in employment and among students in any school or university receiving federal funds, and banned discrimination against pregnant women on the job (Wilson 140).
  • Supreme Court had to choose between two standards when dealing with sex discrimination: The Reasonableness standard stating that government treats some classes differently and this treatment must be reasonable, and second the Strict scrutiny standard which states that some distinctions drawn between groups are inherently suspect.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1972 banned sex discrimination in the hiring, firing, and compensation of employees, and apply to both government and private actions
  • Military service in the combat role is a major controversy concerning women's rights
  • Roe v. Wade decision states that abortion is legal, although there are guidelines that set the period in which an abortion is legitimate; states can ban abortions during the third trimester because the "fetus is viable".
  • However, the Supreme Court refrains from explicitly defining when a fetus constitutes life; specific guidelines regarding "life legitimacy" have yet to be determined.
  • According to the study guide, In Roe v. wade the Supreme Court held that a woman's right to an abortion is protected under the 14th amendment in the first trimester of pregnancy; the second trimester is up to the woman.
  • In the case of Reed v. Reed the case proved that gender discrimination violated the equal protection clause found in the amendment.
  • In 1981, the landmark case of Rostker v. Goldberg established that men could be drafted into the military without forcibly drafting women also.
  • United States v Virginia in 1996 made it so that the state could not finance an all male military school
  • Nineteenth Amendment (1920): gave women the right to vote. Passed after women pressured President Woodrow Wilson, who declared that World War I was a war for democracy, into suffrage for women to make this statement true.
  • The Omnibus Education Act of 1972 required that all boy and girls must be given an equal opportunity to participate in sports programs at school. (5 Steps to a 5)
  • Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 allows government to cut off all funding of schools that violate the Omnibus Education Act.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, both fathers and mothers are guaranteed12 week of paid leave after having a child.
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963- This federal law made it illegal to base an employee's pay on race, gender, religion, or national origin. The Equal pay Act was also important to the women's movement and to the civil rights struggles of other minorities.
  • Equal Rights Amendment- written by Alice Paul and proposed in Congress in 1923. The bill passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives in 1972 but ratified in time of the 1982 deadline so it was never passed. The amendment had called for equality of rights that couldn't be abridged because of a person's sex (Wilson and Dilulio).
  • Title IX, Higher Education Act of 1972 said that discrimination based on gender was illegal in institutions of higher education that receive federal funds (Meltzer and Levy 144)
  • Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 was a way to back this law up
Civil Rights Act of 1991
  • Made it easier for women to bring suit against employers with discriminatory hiring practices
  • The courts will subject any quota system created by state or local governments to "strick scrutiny" and will look for a "compelling" justification for it.

Sexual Harassment
  • Quid pro Quo rule: Requesting sexual favors as a condition for employment is considered sexual harassment
  • The employer is "strictly liable" in such cases, meaning that they will be held liable even if they were unaware that a subordinate requesting sex
  • An environment made hostile by sexual teasing, offensive jokes, or obscenity is also considered sexual harassment
  • The employer is not strictly liable unless they knew of the situation but did nothing about it (aka "negligence")
  • Sexual harassment is vague when it comes to legal matters since there are practically no federal laws addressing the matter (Wilson 142).
  • Rulings on sexual harassment are often inconsistent. In 1998, the Supreme Court made three rulings on sexual harassment cases. In one it was determined that a school system was not liable for a teacher's actions because a student never reported them. In another it held a city liable for a female lifeguard being harassed even though she failed to report it. In a case involving a female employee that was not promoted after rejecting her boss's sexual advances was ruled to be bale to recover financial damages from the firm.

Privacy and sex:
  • Until 1965 sexual matters had been traditionally left up to the states.
  • Police powers: state power to affect laws promoting health and safety and morals.
  • In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled in 1965 that states could not prevent the sale of contraceptives since it would invade a "zone of privacy".
  • Mapp v.Ohio (1957): Police unlawfully searched through Dollree Mapp's house on a suspicion of possession of drugs and discovered obscene materials. In Ohio it was against the law to possess these materials so she was arrested. The Supreme Court ruled that the "evidence was obtained by an unreasonable search and seizure" and therefore could not be used against h

Successful Attempts to Restrict Abortions
  • Abortion was an issue left to the states until 1973 when the Supreme Court used the case Roe V. Wade to strike down a Texas ban on abortion along with all similar state laws.
  • The 14th Amendment protects a woman’s choice to an abortion in the first trimester.
  • Constitutional amendments to overturn this case have failed.
1976: Congress restricted the use of federal funds to pay for an abortion unless the mother's life was at risk.
1989: The Supreme Court upheld the right for states to impose some restrictions on abortion.
1992: In Casey v. Planned Parenthood the courts permitted restrictions like parental consent, a twenty-four hour waiting period, but overturned spousal consent.
  • Opponents of abortion are called pro-life or also right to life: they believe that abortion is murder
  • Supporters of abortion are called pro-choice or also right to choose: they believe that the woman has to choose whether or not she wants the abortion. It is strictly her choice and should be based off of her own morals.

Affirmative Action
Affirmative action: Programs designed to increase minority participation in some institution by taking positive steps to appoint more minority-group members. (Wilson and Dilulio)

Most civil rights and feminist organizations believe that the burdens of sexism and racism can only be overcome by taking race or sex into account when designing remedies. They believe it is not enough to give people rights, but that they should be given benefits as well.
  • This means that the Constitution is not and should not be color-blind or sex-neutral.
  • Women should not simply be free to enter the labor force; they should be given the material necessities that will help them enter it, etc.
Equality of opportunity: the view that laws should only do so much as to give everyone an equal chance to succeed
  • Supporters tend to hold orthodox beliefs
  • Supporters believe reverse discrimination occurs when preferential treatment is given
    • Reverse discrimination: Using race or sex to give preferential treatment to some people; politically loaded term, however.
    • Believe Constitution and laws should be color-blind and sex-neutral.
    • Eliminating barriers to job opportunities is right; using quotas is wrong.
  • Supporters tend to have more traditional views, especially with family. They are skeptical of daycare and federally funded abortions. (Wilson and Dilulio)
  • Example: A government policy favors small businesses owned by "socially and economically disadvantaged individuals". Adarand, a small construction company used this argument when it lost a contract even though it was the lowest bidder.
    • In the Adarand decision the court ruled that discrimination based on race is subject to strict scrutiny.
      • It said that they "must serve a compelling governmental interest" and "be tailored to serve that interest".
Equality of results: making certain that people achieve the same result
  • Supporters tend to be progressives
  • One view, expressed by most civil rights and feminist organizations, is that burdens of racism and sexism can be overcome only by taking race or sex into account in designing remedies.
  • Everyone must be given the same benefits if possible beyond the existing equal rights
  • Most Americans believe in equality of opportunity, but not equality of results.
  • In recent times, affirmative action has been defended in the name of diversity–the view that every institution and every college curriculum should reflect the cultural diversity of the nation.
Quota Systems (taken from Benson and Waples):
  • The Bakke v Regents of the University of California case in 1978 did not allow the University of California in Davis to use quotas, but could use race as a factor for admissions. However, many of the Supreme Court's decisions have contradicted each other. The following details summarize the standards the Court uses to judge cases regarding the use of quotas.
  • Subjected to strict scrutiny, demanding compelling interest.
  • Must correct a pattern of discrimination.
  • Must identify practices that cause discrimination.
  • Preferences are meant to achieve diversity.
  • Unconstitutional in most cases.

Compensatory action: “helping disadvantaged people catch up, usually by giving them extra education, training, or services
Preferential treatment: “giving minorities preferences in hiring, promotions, college admissions, and contracts. (Majorities strongly oppose)

  • Compensatory action is often times supported, unlike preferential treatment.
  • This is in line with American political culture, which supports individualism but also those in need. (Benson and Waples)
  • Immigration rights and rights of enemy combatants are bound to provoke more rulings from the Court in the future. (Benson and Waples)

Property Rights
  • Substantive due process- involves the policies the policies of government or the subject matter of the laws, determining if a law is fair or in violation of the Constitution
  • Procedural due process- method of gov action/execution of law according to established rules and procedures
  • Since there are more and more fine lines between what is considered someones property, the way in which people are handled with personnel items is getting far more complicated. An example could be someones cellphone; are the contents within really their private property, or are those allowed to be searched?

Affirmative Action Cases
  • United Steelworkers v. Weber (1979): Despite a ban on racial classifications set place in The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the case upheld the use of race in an employment agreement between the the steelworkers union and steel plants.
  • Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978): The case held that quota's for admission were unconstitutional, but that "diversity" was a legitimate goal, and race could be taken into account in admissions decisions.
    • Race can be taken into account in order to give an edge between two students of equal qualifications. For example, if a white and a black student have the exact same qualifications, the black student may be accepted over the white one. However, if the white person is more highly qualified than the black, race may not give the black student the edge.
    • There must be some form of compelling justification for quotas and preference systems
  • Grutter v. Bollinger (2003): Court upheld the affirmative action policy of the University of Michigan Law School. The decision upheld the Bakke ruling that race could be a consideration on admissions policy, but that quotas are illegal (Krieger 146).
  • Gratz v. Bollinger (2003): Numerical benefits cannot be used to admit minorities into college, but race can be a “plus factor” in making those decisions. Stated that such "point systems" violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it is essentially the same as creating a quota system.
  • Hopwood v. Texasa court struck down the University of Texas Law school's admission program, stating that race could not be used as a factor of admission to counteract the school's reputation among minorities
  • in recent years, the court seems to be taking a more conservative view of affirmative action. Affirmative action may very well be on it's way out.
  • Katzenbach v. McClung (1964): Court decision that made the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applicable to all businesses. It also established the right of Congress to use their power of interstate commerce to discrimination statues. (Levy and Meltzer)

Reasons for Civil Rights Laws
  • Public opinion was changing
  • Violence against blacks was seen
  • Assassination of President Kennedy
  • 1964 election of many democrats

Civil Rights and The Military
  • In the case of Rostker v. Goldberg (1981), the court ruled that Congress can only draft men for the military.
  • In 1993, the Secretary of Defense allowed women to go on air and sea combat. Even though the Secretary of Defense allowed women to go into air and sea combat, ground troop combat was still reserved for men (Wilson and Dilulio).
  • In 1996, the Supreme Court upheld that women must be admitted into the Virginia Military Institute.(Wilson 141)
    • Women must be admitted into all-male, and state-supported military colleges, like the Virginia Military Institute.

Gays and the Constitution
  • Originally, the Supreme Court allowed the states to institute their own decisions on the rights of gays (Wilson 149).
  • State laws originally banned homosexual activities, but this was challenged in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick.
  • The Court ruled that the right of privacy protected family, marriage or procreation. However the Court struck down Colorado state constitution that were to protect a person based on their homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation in Romer v. Evansbecause it violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • In 1996 the Defense of Marriage Act was passed which stated that no state would have to give legal status to a same-sex marriage performed in another state (Wilson 151).
  • Public opinion polls show that many voters are opposed to same-sex marriages but would allow "civil unions" among same-sex couples (Wilson 151).
  • Lawrence v. Texas(2003): this 5-4 decision overturned a Texas law that banned "sexual conduct between persons of the same sex".
    • Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000): A private organization or group may ban gays from its membership.

"Don't Ask; Don't Tell"
  • In 1992 President Clinton, passed an executive order directed to the military to follow the aptly named Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue policy, allowing homosexuals to enlist.
  • The purpose of the law was to protect homosexuals in the military from harassment
  • It had been criticized in Congress by many and in short time, parts of it were found unconstitutional based on the 1st and 5th amendments.
  • the Military Readiness Enhancement Act currently in Congress is intended to allow LBGT citizens to serve openly in the military on a non discriminatory basis.
  • This also had a few problems, what if heterosexual members found out someone was gay and they got harassed? These other questions created problems, but nothing to big that couldn't be solved. As of now gays are allowed to serve in the military.
  • This policy was official from 1993 to September 20th 2011.
  • This is a very hard concept for the people and congress to follow because it is such a sensitive topic. Either the way, people would be affected with whatever the court decides.
  • The “ don’t ask” portion of the Don’t ask, don’t tell policy specifies that superiors should not participate in an investigation of a service member’s orientation without witnessing unacceptable behaviors.
  • This ban on openly gay service members was taken out of law on September 20th 2011 by current President Barrack Obama, and was also certified by the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mark Mullen.

Court and State Action for Gay Marriage
  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that gays and lesbians must by allowed to marry.
  • Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco started to issue marriage license to homosexual couples in defiance of the state law banning gay marriage. The California Supreme Court determined that not allowing homosexuals to marry was discriminatory and denied this minority group a civil right. During the November 2008 state election, Proposition 8, which aimed to add language to the state constitution establishing marriage to be between a man and a woman, passed. The validity of Proposition 8 and the ban on gay marriage went to the state supreme court, which still has yet to issue a decision on the matter.
  • From public polls, the data shows that the public show some support for "civil union".
  • Defense of Marriage Act 1996: no state would have to give legal status to a same-sex marriage performed in another state

Key Provisions of Major Civil Rights Laws
  • 1957: It was made a federal crime to attempt or otherwise prevent a person from voting in a federal election.
  • 1960: Made it a federal crime to use interstate commerce to threaten or carry out a bombing (Wilson 138).
  • 1964: Assured equality of opportunity in employment, public accommodations, voting, and schools.
  • 1965: Literacy tests and other laws that tried to prevent African Americans from voting were suspended (Wilson 138).
  • 1972: Discrimination based on gender was outlawed in education programs that received federal aid.
  • 1988: Any organization that receives federal aid may not discriminate based on age, sex, race, or physical handicap, no matter what part of the organization receives the aid.
  • 1991: Cases regarding job discrimination became easier to sue for.

Landmark Civil Rights Cases:
  • Plessy v. Ferguson(1896): Homer Plessy boarded a railroad car that was white only car. Plessy was born a free man and was only one-eighth black and seven-eighths white. Though in Louisiana he was considered Black, and was required to sit in the colored car. In a planned act Plessy refused to move from the white car, he was then arrested. Plessy argued the railroad company had denied him his rights given in the 13th and 14th amendment.
    • Upheld separate-but-equal facilities for white and black people on railroad cars. It also supported the belief that African Americans and whites had equal legal rights but could be treated differently than whites.
  • Brown v. Board of Education(1954): Was a class action suit, (13 parents of 20 children) In an act started by the NAACP the parents attempted to enroll their children at the local white elementary school. In the case of Linda Brown, her father Oliver attempted to enroll her in the school only 7 blocks away. Instead she had to walk 6 blocks to her bus stop and then bused a mile away.
    • Said that separate public schools are inherently unequal, thus starting racial segregation. Court ruled that integration should start at all deliberate speed, however in the South it turned out to be a snail's pace. The Court relying on social sciences, said that segregation was a detriment to the African American students.
    • The Court's decision relied on the findings of social science, arguing that segregation was detrimental to African American students because it created a sense of inferiority.
    • Because of the Brown decision, de jure segregation in the South became unconstitutional.
    • The Supreme Court defined integration as a "unitary, nonracial system of education" (Fast Track to a 5).
  • Katzenbach v. McClung (1964): The Court that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to all businesses
  • Green v. County School Board of New Kent County(1968): Banned a freedom-of-choice plan for integrating schools, suggesting that blacks and whites must actually attend racially mixed schools.
  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971): Approved busing and redrawing district lines as ways of integrating public schools.
    • Set guidelines for all subsequent cases involving school segregation
      • District courts have supervised redistricting and busing plans in localities all over the nation
      • A plaintiff must show an intent to discriminate on the part of the public school
      • The existence of all-white or all-black schools in a district with a history of segregation creates a presumption of intent to discriminate
      • Not every school must reflect the social composition of the school system as a whole
  • Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964): Didi the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandate that places of public accommodation are prohibited from discrimination against blacks? Yes, said the Court.
  • New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) Dealt with freedom of speech and press, determined that in order for a public official to sue for libel, they must not only prove the printed information was false, but that it was driven to be published with malicious intent.
  • The Civil Rights Cases, including United States v. Stanley; United States v. Ryan; United States v. Nichols; United States v. Singleton; Robinson et ux. v. Memphis & Charleston R.R. Co, affirmed that all citizens were equal and should have equal privileges.
Landmark Cases Women's Rights:
  • Reed v. Reed (1971): Gender discrimination violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
  • Craig v. Boren (1976): Gender discrimination can only be justified if it serves "important governmental objectives" and be "substantially related to those objectives."
  • Rostker v. Goldberg (1981): Congress can draft men without drafting women.
  • United States v. Virginia (1996): State may not finance an all-male military school.

Landmark Cases Privacy and Abortion:
- Griswold v. Connecticut (1965): Found a "right to privacy" in the Constitution that would ban any state law against selling contraceptives.
  • This case is primarily about a citizens right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th amendment
  • In this Supreme Court Case, the 9th Amendment was also interpreted to provide a Right to Privacy, even if it wasn't explicitly enumerated in the Constitution.
- Roe v. Wade (1973): State laws against abortion were unconstitutional.
  • Women can abort in the first trimester in any state, but certain restrictions are allowed after the first trimester depending on the choice of the state. For example if the health of the mother was in danger after the first trimester then abortion is allowed.
- 1976: Congress barred the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except when the life of the mother is at stake.
- Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989): Allowed states to ban abortions from public hospitals and permitted doctors to test to see if features were viable.
- Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992): Reaffirmed Roe v. Wade but upheld certain limits on its use.
- Stenberg v. Carhart (2000): States may not ban partial birth abortions if they fail to allow an exception to protect the heath of the mother. Medical professionals who performed the procedure after the law had been passed could and some had their licenses for practice revoked in Nebraska. This case dealt with second trimester abortions.


Religion and Schools
  • Everson v. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing (1947): Children from public school and a private Catholic school received transportation to and from school through the use of tax money. The Supreme Court ruled that the tax money was being used to fund education not religion in schools.

  1. ^ Wilson, James Q., and John J. Dilulio. American Government: Institutions and Policies. Tenth ed. Boston, MA: Charles Hartford, 2006. Print.
  2. ^ Wilson, James Q., and John J. Dilulio. American Government: Institutions and Policies. Tenth ed. Boston, MA: Charles Hartford, 2006. Print.
  3. ^ Wilson, James Q., and John J. Dilulio. American Government: Institutions and Policies. Tenth ed. Boston, MA: Charles Hartford, 2006. Print.
  4. ^ Wilson, James Q., and John J. Dilulio. American Government: Institutions and Policies. Tenth ed. Boston, MA: Charles Hartford, 2006. Print.
  5. ^ Wilson, James Q., and John J. Dilulio. American Government: Institutions and Policies. Tenth ed. Boston, MA: Charles Hartford, 2006. Print.