Citizens’ awareness of their rights and equality has increased in recent years. Unlike in the past, when the leadership hierarchy had an unquestionable say. Individuals in a democracy must enjoy their civil rights and equality under a legal framework that favors neither the supreme nor the ruled. All sides are bound by the constitution. Equality of speech, right to vote, right to marry or get married, freedom of worship and moral views, and the right to be protected from unauthorized and unwarranted searches of personal residence or land are a few examples of civil liberties. In the United States of America, many of the civil rights accorded in the form of amendments to the Constitution. On the other hand, civil liberties, since their adoption in the Bill of Rights in 1791, were included in the Constitution.
Historically, the Bill of Rights is responsible for the establishment of civil liberties in the US political system which consistently protects the individuals from encroachment by the government (Schmidt 2016). The court is responsible for determining what the Constitution means and thus breaks down civil liberties in the Bill of Rights. For instance, the Constitution allows people the freedom of assembly; however, it is usually within reasonable limits. There are time, place and manner restrictions that have to be followed. Quite often security might be required just to ensure that the crowd is regulated. In case, an assembly is a particular group which is rowdy, or in case it is a social gathering where there might be consumption of alcohol security will be required. To access safeguard, a certain fee will have to be paid for the services. Referencing from Fairman (2009), the people also have the freedom to keep and bear arms under a well-regulated militia for the security of a free state. For a long while, there have been issues on the possession of arms by individuals.
It was only after 1958 when the right to associate was stated in the Constitution. Earlier the court had jurisdiction over organizations and it required them to submit a list of members. This was a breach of the right to associate. Right to associate implies that people are free to unite with other individuals who intend to make a political change. The right to associate is considered a private matter, and therefore the government is not allowed to interrupt or stop it. Associates could be in the form of a meeting similar to the right to assemble.
In the Third Amendment, the right of privacy addressed where one’s home is taken to be a palace, and therefore it should be respected. Formerly, the government used to invade the citizen’s lives when military people could penetrate into their houses and shelter. This was an invasion of privacy as much as none of the individuals had complained earlier. Other important rights are rights of people who are accused of a crime. According to the Constitution, they should fairly be tried in a court of law. This protects the offenders from political arrest and unfair trials.
Furthermore, existence and exercise of civil liberties depict evidence of not only structural but also a procedural balance of power. This is because with civil liberties the powers of the government are reduced. They tend to set a certain limit in which the rights and freedoms of an individual are kept thus the government cannot abuse their power and interrupt the normal lives of people. It is however different when the law cannot protect from an offense that has been committed. For instance, when an individual is caught committing a crime, one has to go through the proper procedure according to the parameters of the law. The law always has to be administered fairly. Judges will, therefore, have to follow the legal requirements to the later. How lenient the judge can get is still within the parameters of the law and cannot thereby be based on just the subjective decision.
In addition, with civil liberty political ideologies of different individuals whether they differ or are similar have to be respected (Pavlik & McIntosh 2004). There is co-existence of a diversity of within the political body that allows peaceful relations between the individual with different convictions and lifestyle. The government has no right to suppress the political ideologies of people or groups that might be against their regime. The Constitution, therefore, allows many political bodies to be created and they are all respected equally and treated the same.
In conclusion, sometimes people are not aware of the various civil liberties thus failing to realize what they are being stripped off. One should strive to ensure that their rights and freedoms are respected and if not they should fight to protect the rights awarded to them by the Bill of Rights. One of the famous forefathers of the United States of America said, “A people who would trade liberty for security deserve neither.” Rights and freedom are therefore fundamental values in any society and should always be honored.
Fairman, Matthew D. “The Restriction of Civil Liberties during Times of Crisis: The Evolution of America’s Response to National Military Threats.” Government and International Relations Honored Papers, Connecticut College, 2009.
Pavlik, John V., and Shawn McIntosh. “Converging media.” United States of America:
Permissions Department, 2004.
Schmidt, Christopher W. “The Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Divide.” Stan. JCR & CL 12, 2016, pp. 1-177.