Government » American Civil Liberties and Rights » What Are Civil Liberties?

Summary and Main Ideas

Practice Questions

  1. Briefly explain the difference between civil liberties and civil rights.
  2. Briefly explain the concept of selective incorporation, and why it became necessary.

Sample Answer:

Selective incorporation is the process of expanding the application of the Bill of Rights to also include the states. It became necessary in order to guarantee people’s civil liberties equally across all states.


civil liberties: limitations on the power of government, designed to ensure personal freedoms

civil rights: guarantees of equal treatment by government authorities

due process clause: provisions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments that limit government power to deny people “life, liberty, or property” on an unfair basis

selective incorporation: the gradual process of making some guarantees of the Bill of Rights (so far) apply to state governments and the national government

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