G CS 17

Role of the People

The government of the United States protects the freedoms of its people and provides opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process.

Content Statement

17. Historically, the United States has struggled with majority rule and the extension of minority rights. As a result of this struggle, the government has increasingly extended civil rights to marginalized groups and broadened opportunities for participation.

Content Elaborations

The U.S. Constitution guarantees rights to the people of the United States. Historically, despite those guarantees, certain groups of people have not been able to fully exercise their rights. Over time, the U.S. government has taken actions to ensure the free exercise of rights by all people and to protect their ability to participate in the processes of governing.

For instance, the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteed suffrage to all women and the ratification of the 24th Amendment eliminated the failure to pay taxes as a reason to deny participation in voting for federal officeholders.

The executive branch used National Guard troops to help integrate schools and used the Department of Justice to bring charges against violators of open housing legislation. The legislative branch enacted a series of civil rights acts and voting rights acts in the second half of the 20th century.

The U.S. Supreme Court, through the process of incorporation, has used the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to apply most of the federal Bill of Rights to the states.

Expectations for Learning

Identify an issue related to the denial of civil rights to a particular minority group and explain how at least one branch of the federal government helped to extend civil rights or opportunities for participation to that group of people.