In this article, we are here with the Law topics. So, as the topic suggests, we will focus particularly on the differences between the citizens’ civil Rights vs Civil liberties. Civil rights are basic rights which are enjoyed by every citizen of that country under that provisions few rights provides the citizen with liberty those rights are circumscribed under civil liberties .for ex.- liberty to practice any religion.


History of civil rights
In the late 1600s Britishers  framed their civil rights very similar to the US rights. These included most the civil liberties that an average US citizen enjoys today – right from,  freedom of speech ,freedom of expression to freedom of possession of arms. And  when the Britishers came to the United States they established 13 colonies here. With them came their ideas, way of living too came, and  thus civil rights were discussed for the first time in the US.

In the late 1700s during declaration of independence, it was mentioned clearly that one of the most important role of the government will be the protection of civil rights and finally when the constitution was drafted on September 17, 1787, all the civil rights were mentioned in the Bill of Rights.

Marbury v. Madisonin in the early 1800s gave ultimate power to the  Supreme Court of United States to strike down any  legislation that is found to be unconstitutional. This, in turn, provided great protection to our civil liberties (that are included in the Bill of Rights) because now there was an entity to protect them.

The Fourteenth Amendment proposed in the late 1800s, which incorporated our civil liberties found in the Bill of Rights to the states, was accredited(confirmed).This prevented  the individual states from creating  laws that were against the Bill of Rights and conversely extended the protections included within Amendment.The Bill of Rights to the citizens from the states. This was however not challenged and confirmed until 1925 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the states are definitively bound by the Bill of Rights via the Fourteenth amendment. Thus civil rights and civil liberties were finally  included  in the constitution completely.

Definition of civil rights
Definition of civil right

These are the legal provisions made in the constitution to safeguard the basic (primary rights) of an individual. These are well and clearly defined in the law book of a country in order to protect each citizen  from discrimination on any basis whether it is on the basis of caste, creed, race,etc. The citizens become automatic entitlements  of these rights.  A general US citizen enjoys the following rights listed through amendments

Amendments of rights
1st Amendment – This includes the basic rights – the rights relating to religion, press, expression and prevent the lawmakers thereafter from making amendments.

2nd Amendment – The right of the citizens give them liberty to possess weapons and militia.

3rd  Amendment – These prevent the police, militia to enter into anyone’s house

4th Amendment –  These protect the citizen from unreasonable searches and seizures of his/her property.

5th Amendment –  Signifies that government cannot take the property and other amenities of an individual  without fair compensation, and in some of the cases anyone can challenge the government in the court of the law.

6th and 7th Amendment – Ensure the citizens fair and timely  trial before the law \.

8th amendment – Rules out  unusual punishments

9th amendment –It ensures that these civil rights are not the only rights enjoyed by citizens

10th Amendment – It ensures power that is not specifically attributed to the United States government in the Constitution to the individual states or to the citizens.

Besides, there have been a number of amendments which extend these basic rights to the citizens. As  amendment specifies that anyone born in united states is a US citizen.

Definition of civil liberties
Definition of civil liberties

Civil liberties  are the basic rights(ensuring freedom)  enjoyed  by the person in any country that  government cannot deny. This is ensured either by the law or by  judiciary’s interruption. These  are the protections given  to the individual against the  government’s  action. Just as the 1st right in the US law ensures freedom to practice religion – now this liberty to practice one’s religion without any interference is the liberty enjoyed by the citizen. Thus, we can conclude that liberties are the freedoms ensured through various civil rights. We can also say that Civil rights are must to ensure civil liberties of citizens. All the civil liberties enjoyed by a personal are included in the Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments as notified above.


Civil Rights are the those laws in the constitution  that guarantees an individual to equal treatment  and  thus protects the individual against discrimination on the basis of gender,caste, creed, religion  race , age, etc.

Civil liberties are the liberties enjoyed by a citizen through basic rights, without any specialty.
2 In short, Civil rights thus guarantee equal treatment  in case of education, housing, employment, health etc. Civil liberties covers basic rights of an individual such as –privacy rights, freedom of speech, protection  from slavery  forced  labor, right to have  fair trial, right to marry, right to vote, right to life, freedom from torture, right to liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression.
3 Civil rights in a way is concerned with how an individual is treated by others. Civil liberties, on the other hand, refer to actual freedom a person enjoys without  any position (or preference on any basis)
4 WHAT RIGHTS ARE AFFECTED – is the theme of civil rights. WHOSE RIGHTS ARE AFFECTED -is the theme of civil liberties.
5 Civil rights are definitive in nature. Civil liberties are protective in nature.
6 Civil rights include all types of rights. Civil liberties are guaranteed through certain (basic) rights (not all rights)  to guarantee basic freedom.


Civil liberties are few basic freedoms which every citizen of the country enjoys, civil liberties’ are the subset of the civil rights’. So there are minuscule differences between them. Civil liberties include privacy rights, protection from forced labor, right to fair trial while civil rights include protection of an individual against discrimination on the basis of gender, caste, creed, religion etc. Further, the differences get clear in the theme, civil rights stands for “ WHAT RIGHTS ARE AFFECTED “ and civil liberties stands for “WHOSE RIGHTS ARE AFFECTED”.


  1. Wow, I had no idea that civil rights were included in the Bill of Rights in 1925. It’s amazing how four the United States has come as far as civil rights. As a woman, it is good to know that if I am treated unfairly at work, then I can hire an attorney to help me with receiving equality.


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