Civil Rights & Liberties: Crash Course Government #23
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Civil Rights & Liberties: Crash Course Government #23

Hi, I’m Craig, and this is Crash Course Government
and Politics, and today we’re finally, at long last, moving on from the structures and
branches of government and onto the structures and branches of trees. This is a nature show
now. Okay, we’re not moving on completely, because
we’re still talking about courts, but today we’ll be discussing actual court decisions,
and the kind of things that courts rule on, rather than how they do it. That’s right,
we’re moving onto civil rights and civil liberties. [Theme Music] Okay, first I want to talk about something
that I find confusing: the difference between civil rights and civil liberties. Usually in America,
we use the terms interchangeably, which adds to the confusion, but lawyers and political scientists
draw a distinction, so you should know about it. Then you can go back to calling civil liberties “rights”
and civil rights “liberties,” and most people won’t care. But I’ll care. I’ll be disappointed in you. So civil liberties are limitations placed
on the government. Basically, they are things the government can’t do that might interfere
with your personal freedom. Civil rights are curbs on the power of majorities
to make decisions that would benefit some at the expense of others. Basically, civil
rights are guarantees of equal citizenship, and they mean that citizens are protected
from discrimination by majorities. Take, for example, same sex marriage. You
could think of it as a liberty, except that not everyone is free to marry at any given
time. Six year olds can’t get married, and you can’t marry your sibling. But same sex marriage is a civil rights issue
because in the states that don’t allow it, the majority of voters is denying something to a minority,
creating inequality in the way that the laws work. Now, just to make things more confusing, lawyers
often talk about the difference between substantive and procedural liberties, but they usually
call them rights instead of liberties. That’s a lawyer eagle. A legal eagle. Substantive liberties are limits on what the
government can do. For example, the first amendment says that congress shall make no
law establishing religion. So this means that they cannot create a national church or declare
that Christianity or Islam or Hinduism is the official religion of the US. Procedural liberties are limits on how the
government can act. For example, in America in courtroom dramas, there is a presumption
that someone is innocent until proven guilty. This presumption means that in criminal cases,
juries and judges have to act as though the accused is innocent until the prosecution
convinces them otherwise. If they are not convinced, the accused person doesn’t go to
prison. So now that we understand the difference between
civil rights and civil liberties perfectly because of my amazing explanation, let’s focus
on liberties and try to figure out what they are and where they come from, with some help
from Thought Bubble. So civil liberties are contained in the incredibly
unhelpfully named “Bill of Rights,” which isn’t even called that in the Constitution.
It’s just a name that we give to the first 10 amendments. The 9th amendment is included to remind us
that the list of liberties and/or rights in the other amendments isn’t exhaustive. There
might be other rights out there, but the constitution doesn’t specifically say what they are. Thanks
constitution. In some cases, it’s pretty clear. The first
amendment, for example, says that “congress shall make no law respecting the establishment
of religion, or abridging the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech
or of the press to assemble or to infringe the right to petition the government for redress
of grievances.” Pretty straight forward. But other cases are not so clear. The second amendment says “the right to keep
and bear arms shall not be infringed,” but it doesn’t say by whom. Same thing with the
5th amendment guarantees against self incrimination. Could congress force you to incriminate yourself?
How would they do that? And the 8th amendment prohibits cruel and
unusual punishments, like presumably shock pens, but it doesn’t say who is forbidden
from cruelly and unusually punishing. My mom wasn’t forbidden from keeping me from playing
video games. As usual, we might expect the Supreme Court
to sort out this mess, but initially they were no help at all. In a case that you’ve
probably never heard of, called Barron vs. Baltimore, decided in 1833, the court said
that the Bill of Rights applied to the national, meaning federal government, not to the states. They said that every American has dual citizenship,
but not the good kind. They meant you are a citizen of the US and of the state in which
you reside, and basically that the constitution only protected you from the federal government. In other words, if the state of Indiana wanted
to punish me cruelly or unusually, they could. Thanks, Thought Bubble. So Barron vs. Baltimore
left Americans in a bit of a civil liberties pickle, and not the good kind of pickle. They were protected from the national government
doing terrible things, like quartering troops in their homes, but not from the state doing
the same thing. And since the state was close to home and
the national government was far away and, compared with today, tiny and weak, these
protections were pretty weaksauce, so what happened to change this? I hope something,
because I like a zesty government sauce. The 14th amendment & the Supreme Court happened.
After the Civil War, as part of the reconstruction, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were added
to the constitution. Of these, the 14th is the most important, probably the most important
of all amendments. What does it say? Well the first section, which is the one that
really matters, and I’m not going to read the whole thing okay? It reads “all persons
born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens
of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce
any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.
Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process
of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” What this means is that the federal government’s
like: “Listen states, you can’t be dumb. Just stop it. Okay? We’re all in this together.
Alright?” It means states can’t deny equal protection, civil rights, or due process,
which in this case encompasses civil liberties. This in theory makes it impossible for states
to infringe upon the liberties and the Bill of Rights. But the legal system being what it is, it’s
not quite that simple. Did you think it’d be simple? The Supreme Court could have just
ruled that all the rights and liberties in the Bill of Rights applied to the states,
which seems to be what the 14th amendment implies, but they didn’t. Instead they ruled
that each of the rights or liberties had to be incorporated against the states on a case-by-case
basis. This is a concept called selective incorporation,
and it supposedly reserves more power to the states. What it really means is that when people
felt that the states were violating their liberties, they had to go to the Supreme Court, which by now
has incorporated almost every clause in the Bill of Rights against the states. You want examples? We’ve got them. In the
famous case of Gitlow vs. New York, the court ruled that the first amendment protection
of the freedom of speech could not be violated by a state. In this case, it was New York,
but once a liberty is incorporated against one state, it’s incorporated against all of
them. In Mapp vs. Ohio, the court ruled that states couldn’t use evidence gathered from
warrantless searches. In Benton vs. Maryland, the right against Double Jeopardy, being tried
for the same crime twice, was incorporated against the states. By now, almost all the
rights and liberties mentioned in the first ten Amendments have been incorporated against
the states. This means that individuals are protected from all their governments taking
away their liberties, and that’s a good thing. I loves my liberties. So we’ll be talking about civil rights and
civil liberties for a number of episodes, and this topic, while confusing, can be lots
of fun. We might play liberties bingo, or civil rights kickball. I don’t know what those
things are, but they sound like fun. The main thing to remember is that going all the way
back to the framers, Americans have been concerned about a too powerful government taking away
citizens’ freedoms. Yes, these liberties apply mostly to citizens, although some do apply
to non-citizens, too. In order to put limits on government, the Bill of Rights was added
to the Constitution in 1789, but this didn’t mean that those limits applied to the states,
probably because the founders expected states to be the main protectors of rights, and in
fact, many state constitutions have provisions that copy or in some ways, go beyond what’s
in the US Constitution. Only after the 14th Amendment was passed, following the Civil
War, did the national government get around to addressing this issue of states denying
people’s liberties. Even then, it took numerous court cases for us to get to the point that
most civil liberties that we assume cannot be taken away by the government have actually
been guaranteed through the process of selective incorporation. It’s taken a long time to get
where we are, and there’s still a long way to go. Protecting civil liberties requires
vigilant citizens to be aware of the ways that government is overstepping its bounds,
but that’s only half the equation. It’s also vital that our majority pay attention the
civil rights of others, and that we ensure that everyone is afforded the same protections
and benefits promised by our system of law. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time. Crash Course Government and Politics is produced
in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course US Government comes from
Voqal. Voqal supports non-profits that use technology and media to advance social equity.
Learn more about their mission and initiatives at Crash Course is made with the
help of these nice people who are innocent until proven guilty. Thanks for watching.


  • LA IR

    Ok, let's just say you can call the 14th as the most important because you were not a slave, other than that, the 13th Amendment and I would like to disagree with you and put it in the 2nd place! I love the course, but I had to say this!

  • Jess Bress

    Interesting article I found today (I did not write): Ask Me Anything : I Am a Civil Rights Attorney:

  • Huck Fin

    There are no citizens or States they exsist on paper only and I can prove it.What facts and evidence do you rely on to prove the constitution,codeslaws apply to anyone just because they are physically located in the State of…

  • C Deprima

    of course we must keep reminding the state governments to stop violating our Civil and Constitutinoal Rights, is that OK with you AZ BTR? GET a clue!

  • Tovel Smith

    Amendment II – It does state by whom.

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    -"…the right of the people…"

    Amendment V – The COURT or Congress can't compel/force you to incriminate yourself, on the contingency of further punishment.

    "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

    "…nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…"

    Amendment VIII – It implies the protection of We The People.

    "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

    Be Careful, their information is Not completely accurate…

  • Justin Bowles

    I really enjoy these videos by crash course, but I am sincerely disappointed in the way you either lied to your audience or hopefully just ignorantly States that, "the second amendment doesn't say whom is guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms." The second Amendment clearly states, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." I suggest you edit the video to more accurately represent the constitution and leave politics out of your educational videos.

  • Reggie Smith

    This is not "a good thing." Incorporation literally centralized power into the federal government. Centralizing power is not "a good thing."

  • james lee

    Hello Craig your Liberties come from God and not the Constitution, You are a Simple Liberal depending on the Government and the Legislature TO TELL YOU HOW TO LIVE, YOU MAKE me Sick!

  • Amos Maclin

    O so Albert Roark leaving me in a single cell for 45 days and only letting me out twice was against my rights and the Genova convenient he is the sheriff of Fulton county Arkansas

  • mjgarrett9885ify

    No , I had no trial ,plead innocent didn't matter they said I was guilty and must pay a fine . my trial date is 25 the of Jan . I got a bill on Jan 3 . no rights . your guilty no matter what unless your Hillary or Obama .

  • Desiree Dondiego

    Tips for people taking government I found that writing down and reviewing my key terms and then watching these videos are helpful. After that I read the chapters our text book and it makes so much more sense. It also helps if teacher has their own notes. my teacher makes power points too so I just copy his notes and It helps me be ready for the test. That works best for me. Thought it might help someone having a hard time.

  • 3089280288

    But why a civil rights bill in 1964? Why do we have civil forfeiture? Why no more habeas corpus? Why republican assholes act with impunity?

  • R J

    if in a state that has a place of business, and legal tender is good for all, debts, public and private, why so can they forbid some service. exception to rule I think.

  • Alexander Johnson


  • Teph Thompson

    Bull. What about the 3rd, 4th, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th…..????!?!?!!!!!?!?!??!?! Thank though, cause you explained some key topics. Cheer.

  • Mike King

    I'm glad for the United States having the structure it did for foundation because look at the other countries there continents like the Europeans there all divided they're not United

  • Conrad Gifford

    Gun rights is a civil rights issue. How? Here in CA conservatives and pro gun citizens are out numbered by liberals who are anti-gun and make up the majority and continue to vote against our own second amendment right.

  • Patricia Hertzler

    He is talking way too fast for someone who does not get the jokes or is fluent with English or even the vocabulary…slow down for best results.

  • Nidal Shehadeh

    bulshit ,
    for the last 24 years of my life I have been held hostage to some sort of a medical experiment or whatever it is I have no idea ,
    every single constitutionally legal right that I have have been violated including medical procedures for the purpose of having me sign released documents ,
    between civil rights and prosecution there is a gray area in which a bunch of goddamn white supremacist law enforcement with a federal badge up the S who have the power of life and death will do whatever they feel like without any fear of any prosecution ,
    property vandalized , slander of the worst type , assault , injected with twice the amount of anesthesia at Hospital during meniscus tear surgery , I have been pushed to the point where I have became crippled and disabled ,
    they had me drive vehicles with all lug nuts loose in other words attempted murder ,
    I don't know how the hell did I survive ,
    there has to be a god somewhere ,

  • Shabby Golem

    “We must realize that our party’s most powerful weapon is RACIAL TENSION. By propounding into the consciousness of the DARK races, that for centuries they have been oppressed by Whites, we can mold them to the program of the Communist Party. In America we will aim for subtle victory. While inflaming the Negro minority against the Whites, we will endeavor to instill in the Whites, a guilt complex for their exploitation of the Negros. We will aid the Negroes to rise in prominence in every walk of life, in the PROFESSIONS, and in the world of SPORTS and ENTERTAINMENT. With this prestige, the Negro will be able to INTER-MARRY with the Whites and begin a process which will deliver America to our cause.” AUTHOR – Israel Cohen (Zionist — Communist — Internationalist) “A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century” (1912)

  • Hollye Helms

    I loooove this, I have my college final today at 10:30 and I’ve worked every single day for a week and haven’t had time to study 😊 thanks mate, nice video.

  • Pater Pinto

    You speak so fast man. Please speak slowly because there are many people that we don't understand you. Thanks for the videos are good.

  • Darla Barra

    Boa tarde! Existe alguma forma de você configurar o canal para ter a opção de legenda em português? Assim eu consigo aprender o Direito em inglês e depois traduzo para o português!

  • Edbman

    I always see comments about how these videos save peoples lives before the AP test. The APGov test is tomorrow. Hopefully Craig can save my butt while I'm cramming information. Good luck to everyone taking the test tomorrow, you're not alone!

  • No Comment

    Garbage. When you define rights and liberties with respect to majorities and minorities, and state that rights/liberties only protect the minority from the majority, without any reciprocal rights to the majority from the minorities, you have effectively re-discovered the feudal system. Congrats

  • david doggy

    One thing I find interesting is that is are freedom is not as real as we think . Take China they have all of these streaked laws but non are enforced so they are actually one of the freest countries in the world but Americans are made to believe deffrent by are government. Americans are actually brainwashed by their government so they want move to Europe and experience real freedom like on Sweden Switzerland Germany and etc. And "ECT" one more time !! Americans are not free look at how we are beat down by lawenfoment. Example when you leave your home in your car , your not worried about being a victim of a violent crime by a unknow stranger but you leave your house worried about being pulled over are killed by a cop mostly being harrassed by a cop. That why you see people flashing their headlights at you letting you know their is a cop ahead. In Europe you don't have to be scared everyday like we are in USA the land of the fake freedom.

  • Jim Jimtown

    I have been persecuted cruelly under the patriot act in Washington state for 20 years without any relief, and there is no crime. Could you explain how the Patriot act overrules all laws and political powers then invades any home in America electronically without any protection for the American people?

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