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Civil Rights Overview

The freedom from unequal treatment on the basis of skin color, gender, religion, disability or other protected characteristics is collectively called civil rights. Most civil rights protections originate through federal legislation or federal case law (often from U.S. Supreme Court decisions). FindLaw's Civil Rights Overview section contains general information about civil rights, their origin and ongoing development, how civil rights differ from civil liberties, and the basics of hate crimes. This section includes a glossary of civil rights and discrimination terms, a timeline of civil rights events in the U.S., a summary of relevant U.S. Supreme Court cases, the basics of how hate crime laws are enforced, and related information.

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