Understanding your civil liberties

On Behalf of | May 27, 2022 | Civil Liberties |

As an American, you have specific rights. Some of these rights fall under the term ‘civil rights,’ while others fall under the term ‘civil liberties.’ These rights come from the United States Constitution, and they apply to any person, including adults, children, visitors to the country and immigrants.

According to the University of Central Florida Pressbooks, civil liberties refer to government power limitations, and there are various examples. Many people interchange civil liberties and civil rights, but there are some differences between the two.

Example of civil liberties

There are a number of things stated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights that refer to civil liberties. The right to privacy and the right to free speech are two of them. So are the right to vote and the right to marry. Civil liberties also refer to how law enforcement officers must treat a suspect or defendant. These liberties include:

  • Right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure
  • Right to remain silent during law enforcement interrogation
  • Right to a jury trial
  • Right to due process and grand jury indictment for criminal trials
  • Right to be free from excessive fines or bail and from cruel punishment
  • Right to a speedy and fair trial

Civil liberties vs. civil rights

Although the constitution protects both civil liberties and civil rights, FindLaw discusses that they are distinctly different. Liberties are guaranteed basic freedoms, while civil rights refer to the right to be free from discrimination based on gender, race, religion or other personal characteristics. For example, one civil liberty is the right to marry, but if someone denies marriage licenses only to couples of the same sex, this is a civil rights issue.