Civil rights refer to a cluster of freedoms and rights that seek to protect persons from unwarranted interference by the government and the private institutions and ensure that individuals are able to take part in the political and civil life without repression or discrimination. Civil liberty on the other hand specifically refers to the protecting individual's rights to act upon their own personal convictions and preferences without interference by the government.
Being able to understand liberty, rights and freedom requires understanding the precedent court decisions which have been made earlier in this area. In this discussion, we are going to analyze the case Loving Virginia (1967).
The Virginia Racial Integrity Act prohibits a white person from inter- marrying any colored person and if this happens, the person will be guilty of a felony punishable by confinement for not less than one year and not more than five years. In June 1958, one black woman, Mildred Jeter and a white guy, Richard Loving, wedded in the District of Columbia and went back to Virginia where they were residents. Five weeks later they were charged with violating the ban on marriage. They pleaded guilty and sentenced to one year jail term. The sentence was however suspended on the condition that they left Virginia and not come back for a period of 25 years. Five years later they visited but were arrested, they wrote to the Attorney General for help. The Supreme Court ruled out that the interracial marriage ban was against the Equal Protection and Due process Clauses of the 14th amendment.
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The issue at hand was whether the marriage was a basic civil right or not. Marriage is an institution that is created by the law and regulated by the same law. The government, therefore, has the ability of setting restriction on who can get married, but the question was how far the ability could be extended. The court though accepting that the state had a role to regulate marriage being a social institution, they rejected the fact that the state had limitless power, on the contrary, they found out that marriage institution is social in nature and it's also a basic civil right and the state cannot set restrictions without a good reason.
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