Civil Rights

Civil rights encompass the basic human rights that all Americans are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Federal and state constitutional law, statutes, administrative regulations, and judicial interpretation have defined and expanded these civil rights over time.

Many civil rights, such as the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, are granted explicitly by the U.S. Constitution. Other civil rights have been created by statutes enacted by Congress or state legislatures, such as the right to be free from discrimination based on race, or the right to receive equal pay for equal work. Federal statutes in the area of civil rights law include the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Equal Pay Act, among others. Other federal laws, supplemented by court decisions, prohibit discrimination in voting rights, housing, public education, and access to public facilities.