The difference between civil rights and civil liberties can be confusing because they’re often lumped together as though they’re interchangeable. They’re not. Civil liberties are freedoms which are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, at the same time civil rights are the rights of all citizens to be treated equally.
Civil liberties refer to fundamental personal rights that protect people against unwarranted government intrusion. Civil liberties include freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. They also include the right to vote, sue in court and be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The Bill of Rights protects civil liberties under the United States Constitution.
Civil rights also refer to fundamental personal rights but apply more broadly to all citizens regardless of race, color or creed. The concept is based on a guarantee by the U.S. Constitution that all citizens should be treated equally under the law. In addition to these constitutional guarantees, civil rights also protect people from discrimination based on race, gender, age or disability. Civil rights laws were passed during the 1960s to ensure that all Americans could enjoy equal access to public accommodations (hotels and restaurants), education, employment and housing opportunities regardless of their race or ethnicity.