Civil Rights

By cmount
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford

    Dred Scott v. Sandford
    Dred Scott was a slave who sued for his freedom on the basis that his prior residence in free territory made him a free man. The Court decided that because Dred Scott was a slave, he was property, so he could not be a citizen of any state and had no rights to bring his case to the courts under Articles III and IV. The Court also held the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. The Court’s decision supported slavery and excluded slaves and their descendants from possessing Constitutional rights.
  • Thirteenth Amendment

    Thirteenth Amendment
    This Amendment was ratified after the Civil War as one of the Reconstruction Amendments, forbidding slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime. Because of this, slaves who were now free could start building up their rights.
  • Fourteenth Amendment

    Fourteenth Amendment
    This Amendment was ratified after the Civil War as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. It defines citizenship broadly, overruling the Dred Scott decision of 1857. It also forbids the states from denying “equal protection of the laws” to anyone. This provided the only mention of equality in the Constitution and allowed Americans to being working toward equality.
  • Fifteenth Amendment

    Fifteenth Amendment
    This Amendment was ratified after the Civil War as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. It says that governments in the United States cannot deny a citizen the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” In theory, this guarantees African Americans the right to vote.
  • Poll Taxes

    Poll Taxes
    Poll taxes were small taxes that had to be paid in order to vote. They usually fell due during the time of year when poor African American sharecroppers had the least money. This was a way that Southern states used to get around the Fifteenth Amendment and exclude Blacks from voting despite the constitutional requirement to allow them to vote.
  • White Primaries

    White Primaries
    Political parties in the South often excluded African Americans from voting in primary elections, which deprived them of a vote in the most important contests and served to invalidate their votes. White primaries were used to get around the provisions of the Fifteenth Amendment and continue to prevent African Americans from having a voice. They were declared unconstitutional in 1944 in Smith v. Allwright.
  • Plessy v. Ferguson

    Plessy v. Ferguson
    The Court held that separate but equal public accommodations by the state governments is constitutional according to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It established that racial segregation was allowed and protected under federal law.
  • Nineteenth Amendment

    Nineteenth Amendment
    This amendment banned the government from denying any person the right to vote according to sex (essentially giving women the right to vote). It broadened the interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The amendment gives greater civil rights to women.
  • Brown v. Board of Education

    Brown v. Board of Education
    The Court held that segregation of public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the separate facilities are unequal. This overturned Plessy v. Ferguson . This case furthers equality among the people.
  • Affirmative Action

    Affirmative Action
    President Kennedy issued an executive order that established the concept of affirmative action. Affirmative action was put into place to promote equality among race, gender, and ethnicity and to provide equal opportunity. It changes the way contractors who accept federal funding hire employees. They must hire proposed underrepresented populations.
  • Twenty-fourth Amendment

    Twenty-fourth Amendment
    This Amendment prohibits both Congress and the states from making the right to vote dependent on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax. This was just another reduction of the barriers to African Americans voting, contributing to racial equality in the United States.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    Civil Rights Act of 1964
    This outlawed racial discrimination in places of public accommodation (hotels, motels, restaurants, etc.); forbade discrimination in employment because of race, color, national origin, religion, or gender; outlawed unequal application of voter registration requirements; and outlawed racial segregation in schools. This has far-reaching effects in prohibiting discrimination in public facilities, government, and employment, invalidating southern Jim Crow laws, and providing for desegregation.
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965

    Voting Rights Act of 1965
    This Act said that governments cannot use voting procedures that deny a person the vote on the basis of race or color. It also abolished the use of literacy requirements for anyone who had completed sixth grade. Because of this, the number of African American voters dramatically increased, as did the number of African American elected officials. This Act restored the right to vote that was promised in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
  • Reed v. Reed

    Reed v. Reed
    This court case held that administrators of estate cannot be named in such a way that it discriminates by sex. This is yet another Equal Protection case and furthers the equality of the people and the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Equal Rights Amendment

    Equal Rights Amendment
    This amendment did not pass. It proposed equal rights under any federal, state, and local law that could not be denied on account of sex. It limited the implications of equality and how far equality laws could go.
  • Regents of the University of California v. Bakke

    Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
    The Court held that while affirmative action is constitutional, creating quotas based on race is unconstitutional. It limited the scope and purpose of affirmative action programs.
  • Bowers v. Hardwick

    Bowers v. Hardwick
    The US Supreme Court upheld the Georgia statute that banned oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults when applied to homosexuals. This demonstrated a reluctance of the Court to recognize a right to privacy previously established in Roe v. Wade. Many states invalidating many of their sodomy laws and it affected the rights of gays.
  • Americans With Disabilities Act

    Americans With Disabilities Act
    This law prohibited discrimination due to disabilities as well as defined what a disability is. It essential broadened the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include those with disabilities.
  • Lawrence v. Texas

    Lawrence v. Texas
    This court case struck down the decision of Bowers v. Hardwick which decided that sodomy in the state of Texas is illegal. The majority concluded that intimate consensual sexual conduct was a liberty protected by due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. This caused many laws throughout the US concerning this issue to come under scrutiny and be invalidated.