Civil liberties are basic rights and freedoms protected by the Constitution of the United States. Civil liberties, as identified in the Bill of Rights, include:
- Freedom of speech,
- Freedom of religion,
- Freedom of assembly, and
- Freedom from unreasonable search and seizures.
Civil Liberties vs. Civil Rights
Civil rights differ slightly from civil liberties. Civil rights protect individuals from discrimination whereas civil liberties protect those rights from unjustified government interference. For example, under the First Amendment, individuals have the right to worship any religion of their choosing. Thus, the First Amendment provides “liberty” for individuals to worship according to their preference without government intrusion.
Civil Liberties and Department of Defense
Under the DoD Civil Liberties Program, implemented by DoD Instruction (DoDI) 1000.29, discrimination based on race, sex, age, or mental or physical disability is prohibited. Civil liberties apply to the entire DoD workforce, including active duty service members and civilian employees; however, certain restrictions may apply. For example, active duty service members may exercise their right to vote based on their personal preference, however, they may not seek nomination or candidacy for civil office (except in very limited circumstances). Similarly, civilian employees are free to financially contribute to a political campaign but they may not host a fundraising event for a partisan candidate.