Essay about American's Civil Rights

Submitted By augu101
Words: 1099
Pages: 5

The Declaration of Independence states "that all Men are created equal." What did the Founders mean by “all Men”? How have Constitutional amendments, federal laws and the courts expanded or contracted Americans’ civil rights over time? Provide examples to back up what you say. Discuss one controversy during the past ten years over civil rights, presenting both sides of the argument.

American’s civil rights is defined as the equality of all men regardless of their demographic, gender, sexuality, and economic status under the law. However when the Declaration of Independence was constructed, “All men” generally meant white, free, literate, and over 21 adults. Basically the founders of the declaration of independence would have identified themselves as “all Men”. Also the men includes those who owned property. Because of these characteristics these men were deserving of equality in the country. However, the definition became broader as decades went by the
The Dred Scott vs. Sanford case was the premise of the contraction of civil rights. The Supreme Court ruled that since Dred Scott was an African-American, he could not rule against the court. Basically even if he was free in another state, he was a slave and thus a non-citizen. This controversy led to the civil war and resulted in the ratification of the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery. The 13th amendment expanded civil rights because it gave African-Americans much freedom and made them less inferior to their white counterparts. The 14th amendment continued on with the constitutional phrase “that all Men are created equal”. Now based on this amendment the “all men” means all people who were born in the country. It basically states that the state cannot deprive you from your rights regardless of who you are. The 15th amendment gave more rights to people of color but only males were allowed to vote. Equality was not reached yet.
Even when the constitution now allows African American men to vote, some federal laws contracted such equality. For example the grandfather clause only allowed people with no only white ancestry to vote. Some African-Americans had to pay to vote; many of them could not afford the poll tax. Additionally made of them were not educated so literacy tests were a good way to prevent them from voting. The Civil rights Acts of 1865 tried to expand equality by enforcing that states did not avoid these amendments. However the Supreme Court overturned some of the acts. One main example was the Plessy vs. Feurgson case. The case ruled that separate but equal was constitutional. The court stated that segregation alone did not violate the constitution and thus was acceptable. This led an increase discrimination. However 60 years later, the court overturned that case, stating that separate is inherently unequal and illegal. The case was replaced with the “Brown vs. Board of Education”. The civil rights acts of 1964 were federal laws that prohibited segregation from all states. This further expanded the importance of civil rights.
Civil rights of the United States does not only pertain to African Americans. Women and other minorities including homosexuals are frequently discriminated in society. Some of them are not treated equally to the white men under the constitutional law. Before the 19th amendment, women were discriminated under law by not obtaining the right to vote. More people had the right to vote in the 23th amendment because the district of Columbus could vote in the presidential elections. After many years, poll tax was finally outlawed in the 24th amendment. Equality in the amendments was contracted in the 26th amendment when only people over the age of 18 are given the right to vote.
These recent amendments has broaden the equal protection clause to new heights. Another equal rights case could have been an amendment, but only 70% of the 50 states voted for it. 75% of the states need to approve to become constitutional. This close…