Hein Online - Civil Rights and Social Justice

About Civil Rights and Social Justice

About the Database

HeinOnline’s Civil Rights and Social Justice database brings together a diverse offering of publications covering civil rights in the United States as their legal protections and definitions are expanded to cover more and more Americans.      

Containing links to more than 500 scholarly articles, hearings and committee prints, legislative histories on the landmark legislation, CRS and GAO reports, briefs from major Supreme Court cases, and publications from the Commission on Civil Rights, this database allows users to educate themselves on the ways our civil rights have been strengthened and expanded over time, as well as how these legal protections can go further still. A varied collection of books on many civil rights topics and a list of prominent civil rights organizations help take the research beyond HeinOnline.

What Are Civil Rights?

Civil Rights

  • ensure protection from discrimination based on:
    • race
    • gender
    • sexual orientation
    • national origin or ethnicity
    • religion
    • age
    • disability

Not to be confused with civil liberties.

  • these are basic freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights and Constitution. Examples include:
    • right to free speech
    • right to privacy
    • right to remain silent during police interrogation
    • right to a fair trial

Major Constitutional Protections for Civil Rights

Thirteenth Amendment

  • ratified in 1865
  • abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except for persons convicted of a crime

Fourteenth Amendment

  • ratified in 1868
  • “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”
  • granted citizenship to all persons born in the United States
  • afforded due process protections against state and local governments

Fifteenth Amendment

  • ratified in 1870
  • prohibits governments from denying citizens the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”


Major Legislation

Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • signed by President Johnson
  • outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin
  • contains 11 titles regulating voting, the workplace, public schools, and public accommodations (ex. retail stores, recreational facilities, hotels, rental properties)

Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • signed by President Johnson
  • provided robust enforcement of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments
  • created a coverage formula for determining jurisdictions that are subject to additional special provisions
  • these special provisions are for the most historically discriminatory jurisdictions by mandating that certain states receive federal preclearance before changing their voting laws
    • coverage formula was repealed in 2013 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder

American with Disabilities Act of 1990

  • signed by President George H.W. Bush
  • structurally modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • covers both physical and mental disabilities
  • prohibits discrimination  based on disability  in all areas of public life
  • requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to covered employees to allow them to do their jobs
  • sets the minimum standards for accessibility for alterations and new construction of public facilities and directs businesses to make reasonable accommodations to serve people with disabilities