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Civil Rights Newsletters

Due Process and Civil Rights

The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides “due process” and “equal protection” to all Americans. The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the states from passing or enforcing any law that abridges the “privileges or immunities” of citizens or deprives a person of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Put another way, the Due Process Clause protects citizens from interference by a state with most of the rights listed in the United States Constitution.

Feeding Tube Law Declared Unconstitutional

A Florida woman died nearly two weeks after doctors, under court order, removed her feeding tube for the third and final time. The woman’s parents suffered a string of legal settbacks after the removal of the tube, both in state and federal courts, trying to get her feeding tube reconnected.

Military Dress and the First Amendment

The application of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the armed services is not nearly as broad as it is in the civilian context. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the military can prohibit the wearing of yarmulkes by Jewish soldiers when in uniform. The armed forces no longer give religious waivers for uniform and grooming rules.

Race Discrimination Claims Under § 1981

Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibits racial discrimination in making and enforcing contracts. Section 1981 protects an individual from racial discrimination not only in making and enforcing contracts, but also in participating in lawsuits and in giving evidence. For example, § 1981 has been applied to enforce contracts of employment, including contractual relationships of at-will employment. In 1991, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991. In so doing, Congress amended § 1981 by adding § 1981(b) to cover claims of racially discriminatory termination.

The Guarantee of the Right to Bear Arms Is a Source of Discussion

The meaning of the Second Amendment right to bear arms is a source of discussion. One view is that the Second Amendment protects “the people” as a collective body, rather than as individuals. According to this “collective view,” the federal government cannot take away arms from state militias. Proponents of this theory say that there is no right to possession of firearms other than by those who belong to a “well-regulated Militia.” The contrasting theory is that “the people” are individuals, who each have a right to possess firearms.


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