Civil Rights Law


Welcome to Lawshelf’s video course on civil rights. This course focuses on the rights of all Americans under the federal and state Constitutions and laws. The course surveys the framework of these rights and goes into many specifics, including the rights to equal protection, due process and freedom of religion. Some other fundamental rights, including freedom of speech, are left for other LawShelf courses.

This is an intermediate-level course, focusing on some obscure Constitutional law concepts, but requires no previous experience or knowledge to participate.

The course starts with the structure of civil rights laws and the various sources of those protections. We’ll look at constitutional rights and federal and state civil rights laws.

The second module focuses on equal protection. We’ll look at the history of the equal protection clause and its passage in the wake of the civil war. We’ll look at landmark Supreme Court cases and the standards under which alleged equal protection violations are judged. We’ll also look at the interesting case of “benign” discrimination in the form of affirmative action programs.

Our third module looks at due process. We’ll focus both on procedural due process, which looks at whether the government gave a person a fair opportunity to defend before a deprivation of life, liberty or property, and substantive due process, which ensures that government cannot legislatively deprive people of rights without adequate justification.

Module 4 discusses religious discrimination, including a look at the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment. We’ll also look at federal laws that try to protect religious freedom, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and the long lines of cases those acts have spawned. Finally, we’ll look at accommodations and exceptions from the law that governments must make to accommodate religious freedom.

The last module turns to the practical side of things by discussing federal and state causes of action to vindicate civil rights. We’ll look at federal “Section 1983” actions and comparable state lawsuits. We’ll also focus on the roles of states in protecting civil rights.

By the end of this course, we’re confident that you’ll have a clearer picture of the framework in which our governments and court systems seek to protect our civil rights.

Best of luck and we welcome your feedback.


An Introduction to Civil Rights - Module 1 of 5


Equal Protection - Module 2 of 5


Due Process and Civil Rights - Module 3 of 5


Religious Discrimination - Module 4 of 5


Suing for a Civil Rights Violation - Module 5 of 5

Final Exam only needs to be taken by those seeking to earn the Digital Badge credentials for this course.