The first step in protecting your rights is to know what they are. Parts of our legal system will take a gamble about your ignorance to push unjust results through the system. All citizens should be aware of what rights they are entitled to.
Civil Rights for Everyone
Certain civil rights are extended to all citizens. The most well-known of these are the Bill of Rights, which consist of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Here is a summary of these rights.
As time went on, additional amendments were passed to extend further rights to all Americans. These include:
- The right to sue the government as a private citizen.
- The abolition of slavery.
- Equal protections under the law.
- Protections for voting rights
However, some of our most important rights only activate when we belong to specific classes or placed in certain situations. These rights are expanded upon by additional legislation. Additionally, the constitutional rights are granted by the government to citizens. Many of our most important civil rights laws prevent others in positions of power, such as landlords and employers, from violating the civil liberties of vulnerable classes including, but not limited, to:
- LGBTQ+ Individuals
- HIV-positive Individuals
- The Disabled
Rights for Specific Classes
Prisoners, for example, have often had their rights removed due to breaking the law. Being classified as a criminal or a felon, or being in jail or prison, can lead to others violating your rights due to this status. Most of us are familiar with the most basic of these rights, the Miranda rights, which are a retelling of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments told to arrestees so that ignorant citizens are made aware of them.
Yet many rights are modified due to a prison or criminal status. While being incarcerated may make some things more difficult to do, such as suing the government, far too many prisoners give up the rights that are protected by law, including laws about excessive force, religious rights, health-care rights, and visitation.
Women have historically faced discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, but there are also harassment laws for housing as well. Did you know that it is illegal for your landlord or their staff to commit harassment or threaten to evict you? The Violence Against Women Act also gives landlords certain powers and restrictions for how they treat tenants who are in abusive relationships. For instance, they have the power to split a lease and evict the abuser, but they can’t pursue the victim if there’s a noise complaint or damage to the unit as a result of the fighting.
These rights that detail how people in positions of power can treat you and your rights to address grievances against them are the most neglected rights. Take an afternoon and go through the ACLU’s list of civil rights. Civil rights violators are depending on your ignorance of these laws to take advantage of you. If you believe your rights have been violated, contact The Cochran Firm today.