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To what extend are rights and liberties better protected in theory than in practice in the United States?

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Introduction

To what extend are rights and liberties better protected in theory than in practice in the United States? When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and the bill of Rights in the late 18th century, they wanted to devise a system in which government would be limited. Civil rights are positive acts of government designed to protect people against discriminatory treatment while civil liberties are those liberties that guarantee the protection of persons and property from the arbitrary of government officials. The US government has certainly adapted to the changes that have taken place in US society, to which racial and ethnic minorities can look to safeguard their rights and liberties. The civil rights movement that grew out of the 1950s had seen the passage of constitutional amendments guaranteeing rights for African-Americans which helped removed the worst elements of racial discrimination in the North. However, laws in many states especially in the Deep South meant that these rights were not a reality for most blacks. The Supreme Court had perpetuate the segregated South with its doctrine of 'separate but equal' in its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). This meant that whether in schools, housing, job recruitment, public transport or leisure facilities, blacks were still 'separate but equal', indicating that separation of the races was fine which implies that rights are better protected in theory than in practice. ...read more.

Middle

As such, rights and liberties are seen to be well protected in theory as well as in practice. Despite that, many regarded 'set asides' and quotas' as unfair to those of the majority group and patronising to those of the minority. This can be closely associated with the 1978 Supreme Court of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke which concerned a white medical student, Allan Bakke, who had been denied a place at the University of California's Medical School, despite the fact that lesser qualified minority students were admitted. Other landmark cases included Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) where the court ruled that the University of Michigan's affirmative action based admissions programme for its undergraduate students was unconstitutional because it was too 'mechanistic' as all black, Hispanic, and American-Indian applicants were automatically awarded 20 of the 150 points required for admission. Also, in Parents Involved in Community Schools Inc. V. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County (Kentucky) Board of Education, the court struck down affirmative action programmes in Washington state and Kentucky because they assigned students to public schools solely for the purpose of achieving racial balance. For that reasons, we can see that advantage or preference for one group leads inevitably to disadvantage for another group which is also known as 'reverse discrimination'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore, women's rights and liberties are limited by such ruling. In the wake of 9/11, as the United States is faced with national emergency, the President's powers are normally significantly greater than in the normal course of events. For example, George W.Bush was able to launch the attacks on Afghanistan as an emergency act of self-defence, without a formal declaration of war by Congress. The USA Patriot Bill, a legislation that was passed had authorised the FBI to access computer files and e-mails, as well as allowing the arrest and holding of terrorist prisoners for seven days without charge. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the court ruled that Yaser Esam Hamdi, a Louisiana-born Saudi citizen who had been held in isolation for nearly three tears, had been denied due process of law. Furthermore, in the case of Hamdam v. Rumsfeld (2006) the court declared that the military commissions set up by President George W.Bush to try people held at Guantanamo Bay was unconstitutional nonetheless, in 2008 in the case of Boumediene v. Bush, the court held that the procedures set up by the Bush Administration and Congress following the Hamdam decision in 2006 were inadequate to ensure that the detainees received their day in court. As a result, we can witness that rights and liberties has been significantly limited and impeded upon during times of national crisis. ...read more.

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