Civil Rights and Civic Responsibility

Finding balance between competing political and economic forces and ideas is the biggest challenged facing our democracy and is the theme of this blog. The balance between civil rights and responsibilities wasn’t as big an issue at our nation’s founding as it is now. There was less need for a Bill of Responsibilities back in the late 18th century than now as individuals were expected to be responsible. Who else would feed their families or provide a roof over their heads? Debtors’ prison awaited those who didn’t pay their debts.

We’ve come a long way since that time, revisiting our collective, evolving social contract through challenges and unrest. The concept of civic responsibility, however, is no longer an unwritten assumption in our behavior.

That said, acting responsibly starts with being informed. I’ve realized how little I know about our nation’s history and our government under law. This post serves to help others quickly and easily find the original resource materials to read and learn. The first part contains Supreme Court major decisions. The second provides links to Ranked Choice Voting, a way of using expanded and ranked choices on ballots, breaking up the control over primaries currently exerted by our two duopolistic political parties.


First, the U.S. Supreme Court’s site.

Second. I recommend reading this. The official internet version of Supreme Court decisions includes the opinion for the majority, the dissenting opinion if any, and other concurring opinions. The American Bar Association provides useful guidance on how to read a Supreme Court Opinion.–supreme-court-opinion/

Finally, the opinions.    Opinion site on the Supreme Court site.

Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (January 2010)

Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores (June 2014)

Roe v Wade (1973).  It isn’t available on the Supreme Court opinion site due to its age. Here is the full opinion on another site.

Planned Parenthood v Casey (1992)

Brown v Board of Education (1954)    

You may have your own cases of interest. If not found on the Supreme Court site due to their age, many universities maintain these Supreme Court original opinions.



Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is rather new in this country. I learned about it by reading the excellent book (in my book shoutout category) The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy by Gehl and Porter. They describe RCV and why it would break partisan gridlock along with other proposals to improve our political system. Some excellent history, too.

I’m an ardent supporter of RCV. Beware of the excuses provided by opponents. They like the current political duopoly. They tell folks that the American electorate isn’t smart enough to understand it or that they don’t like change. All my friends, regardless of how they’ve voted in recent elections, are sick and tired of both parties. Those parties “own” our primaries. This is why so many of us don’t feel we have a party that represents us. And the stakes are growing more ominous. Hence the many links here with lots of explanations. There are others. You can find them in a search.