Civil rights

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In United States and other legal systems, Civil rights are an enforceable rights or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury[1]. The "civil" aspect refers to the rights being inherent to membership in a civil society, possibly as a right of citizenship or simply something considered inherent to any persons present. In contrast, the rights of a member of a country's military may necessarily be limited by the needs of discipline and military necessity; persons lawfully sentenced to imprisonment will lose some, but not all rights.

One can suffer discrimination with respect to human rights, if one is prevented from exercising a right for an arbitrary reason not based on behavior, such as race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual preference.

The international basis for such rights is now codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

United States

In the United States, civil rights derive from the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.


  1. civil rights: an overview, Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School