What is the difference between Civil Liberties and Civil Rights? How are they guaranteed or ensured?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Civil liberties refers to the rights that people have as individuals -- rights like the freedom of speech.

Civil rights refers to the rights that people should have as members of groups.  Put differently, this refers to preventing people from having rights taken away BECAUSE OF membership in some group (race, sex, religion).

The liberties are mainly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.  Civil Rights are mostly guaranteed by the 14th Amendment and by laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Although both of these are guaranteed by law, they are only ensured by people's actions.  For example, the civil rights of blacks have been guaranteed by the 14th Amendment since the 1860s but were not really ensured until the majority of Americans came to accept them in the 1950s and '60s.