Natural rights - The rights of all people to dignity and worth; also called human rights.
Affirmative action – Remedial action designed to overcome the effects of discrimination against minorities and women.
Women’s suffrage – The right of women to vote.
Equal protection clause - Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment that forbids any state to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. By interpretation, the Fifth Amendment imposes the same limitation on the national government. This clause is the major constitutional restraint on the power of governments to discriminate against persons because of race, national origin, or sex.
Due process clause – Clause in the Fifth Amendment limiting the power of the national government; similar clause in the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the state governments from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
White primary – Democratic party primary in the old “one-party South” that was limited to white people and essentially constituted an election; ruled unconstitutional in Smith v. Allwright (1944).
Racial gerrymandering – The drawing of election districts so as to ensure that members of a certain race are a minority in the district; ruled unconstitutional in Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960).
Poll tax – Tax required to vote; prohibited for national elections by the Twenty-Fourth Amendment (1964) and ruled unconstitutional for all elections in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966).
Literacy test – Literacy requirements some states imposed as a condition of voting, generally used to disqualify black voters in the South; now illegal.
Majority-minority district – A congressional district created to include a majority of minority voters; ruled constitutional so long as race is not the main factor in redistricting.
Jim Crow laws – State laws formerly pervasive throughout the South requiring public facilities and accommodations to be segregated by race; ruled unconstitutional.
De jure segregation – Segregation imposed by law.
De facto segregation – Segregation resulting from economic or social conditions or personal choice.
Commerce clause – The clause of the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) that gives Congress the power to regulate all business activities that cross state lines or affect more than one state or other nations.
Class action suit – Lawsuit brought by an individual or group of people on behalf of all those similarly situated.
Restrictive covenant – A provision in a deed to real property prohibiting its sale to a person of a particular race or religion. Judicial enforcement of such deeds is unconstitutional.
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