Certain civil rights and civil liberties are promised to us by the Constitution of the United States. However, throughout history, many people have debated how the rights granted to us by the Constitution should be understood. Judicial interpretation is the primary means by which the statements in the Constitution are converted into law, and it therefore has a direct impact on the evolution of civil rights and liberties. The major categories of judicial interpretation of the Constitution are strict constructionism, precedent, and structuralism; different members of the Supreme Court tend to interpret the Constitution differently, which has led to different rates of evolution of the law in different time periods. Although the Constitution has been amended and United States law has evolved over time due to the use of case law, we have still been unable to achieve many of the goals expressed by the Constitution; the equality and protections that our forefathers intended every citizen of this country exists in our law, but these principles fail to be exercised in practice.
Throughout American history, the Constitution has constantly changed and usually for the better. Although it wasn’t until 1870 that the Fifteenth Amendment was finally passed and allowed African Americans and other people of color to vote, the Constitution and American case law was drastically altered in the years to follow to grant equal rights to all people living in this country. The Fifteenth Amendment and the other two Reconstruction Amendments finally acknowledged former African slaves as citizens with the same rights and privileges as the average American man. The civil rights movement that led to the fair treatment of African Americans contributed significantly to further evolution of United State law; it catalyzed the women’s suffrage movement, and in 1920, women finally received the right to vote.
Although the Constitution has evolved steadily over the years to allow equal civil rights and civil liberties and case law has generally been in favor of these changes, not all American citizens are treated equally even though our law states that we should. The major disparity among American citizens is due faults within the legislative branch; many Americans are differentially searched and arrested on the basis of their race. According to government statistics, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to commit a crime than people who are not of color. As a result, police are more likely to patrol neighborhoods that are predominantly non-white and target these two groups of people. This is extremely unfair because many innocent people are searched for no reason and this impedes upon their rights.
To prevent this atrocity from occurring, it is necessary that we fix our legislative system. Although the government has argued that stop and frisk is an effective policy in preventing crime, it has no place in our penal system if it means the discriminatory targeting of innocent people on the basis of their race. In order to prevent such a disparity, the police should either stop and frisk people in all neighborhoods at random or they should cease the policy altogether. Regardless, the 13th to 15th amendments were written to clearly state that the Constitution was meant to have given equal rights to all people, not just male landowners. In order to sure that our legislative system and other branches of the government are truly enforce the laws that were intended by our forefathers, we need to take actions to ensure that people of all races are treated equally. We should not be satisfied with the law simply existing; if the civil rights and liberties of any group is being attacked, it is our duty as citizens to fight back to ensure that everyone is treated equally.