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What's the difference between a civil right and a civil liberty?

New York residents should know the difference between civil liberties and civil rights. Traditionally, the term civil rights has referred to the right to be free from unequal treatment. This includes freedom from discrimination based on gender, race, sex, etc. in the realms of housing and employment. As for civil liberties, this term refers to the guaranteed human rights and freedoms outlined in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Civil rights also include rights that have been interpreted by lawmakers and courts throughout the years.

Civil rights include:

-- The right to be free from unreasonable searches.

--The right to have a fair legal trial.

-- The right to vote.

-- The right to get married.

-- The right to privacy.

-- The right to freedom of speech.

To highlight the difference between these civil liberties and civil rights even more, one can consider what particular right is being affected and whose right that is. For example, employees do not have the right to be promoted. This is not a civil liberty that is in any way guaranteed. However, a member of a racial minority does have the right not to be discriminated against while under consideration for promotion. It is unlawful to deny an employee a promotion due to his or her gender, race or other protected characteristic.

Were your civil rights or civil liberties violated? Regardless of the circumstances of the violation, it's important to consider filing a legal action to protect your rights in court. Taking such action will not only help you, but it will also help others by sending a message that New York residents will not tolerate such unconscionable treatment any longer, and that those who violate the rights of others will face very real consequences in court.

Source: FindLaw, "Civil rights vs. Civil Liberties," accessed Feb. 17, 2017

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