American history from 1940 on has generally been one of increasing respect for rights. There has been a great expansion of civil rights and civil liberties during this time. Some important examples of this expansion include:
- The granting of civil rights to African Americans.
- The creation of the right to privacy that, for example, was used to strike down laws against the use of contraceptives.
- The "incorporation" of the Bill of Rights. This made it so the Bill of Rights applied not only to the federal government but also to the states.
- The passage of laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act that protected basic civil rights for the handicapped.