Changing Our Political System
Civil Rights Struggle
In the second half of the 20th century, the nation's third branch of government - the Supreme Court - has been the site of the pivotal battles to advance the cause of equal rights and opportunities. In the face of an often hostile legislature and passive executive branch, the civil rights movement turned increasingly to the courts, and ultimately the Supreme Court, to make good on the American promise. Indeed, the modern civil rights movement could well be dated from the Supreme Court's 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education, declaring school segregation to be unconstitutional and therefore illegal. That unanimous ruling sparked a host of efforts, both in the courts and other arenas, to dismantle segregation.
Over the last 50 years, the civil rights movement, often looking to the courts for support and guidelines, has broadly focused on several key issues for an end to:
- school segregation and the creation of truly equal educational opportunity
- housing discrimination and the creation of a housing market with all neighborhoods open to all people
- employment discrimination and the creation of an equal opportunity economy;
- discriminatory politics by making voting rights open to all Americans;
- discrimination in the administration of criminal justice.
These issues provide a wide verity of the nation's progress in ending discrimination and achieving its professed ideal of a society where each person has an equal opportunity for a full and productive life.
Civil Rights 101
Civil rights cover a lot of different subjects. Being a Civil Rights or a Political Activist opens a lot of different doors for a person to go through. It is about standing up for everyone who is denied fundamental rights and equal opportunity for a nation that has been claiming this for over 200 years. Yet, we still see it in 2016. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(RLUIPA) is enacted. Providing important new protections for religious freedom without the potential for undermining state and local civil rights laws, RLUIPA focuses on land use for churches, synagogues, and other religious groups, and religious freedom of those in government-run institutions such as hospitals, prisons, and group homes.
The November 2000 elections raise yet a new set of concerns about minority voting rights as voters across America -- especially minority voters -- report that they had been effectively denied the franchise in a variety of ways. These included allegations that minority voters faced a significantly greater risk that their votes would not be counted accurately, due to disproportionate use of outdated and inaccurate equipment in minority neighborhoods. Asian American, Haitian American, Latino, and other language minority voters report that they were denied language assistance to which they were entitled. These and other irregularities trigger calls for federal election reform legislation to address both procedural and technological barriers to voting participation.