Civil Rights Laws and Legislation



Waving U.S. flagThe Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the most famous pieces of American legislation. The legislation provided for protection against discrimination in schools, places of public accommodation, employment, and many other protections.

The federal government, however, isn’t the only body to address discrimination. Many states have also addressed the issue, often extending the protections further than the federal law provides. Examples of this are housed in the following NCSL resources:

Religious Freedom

States have also begun to examine policies that would affect the practice of religion. The most prevalent of these is the creation of state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). These laws are a response to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and mandate that states may only limit the exercise of religion for a compelling government interest and must be done so in the least restrictive way possible. As of the beginning of 2015, 19 jurisdictions had state RFRAs in place.  Many states have legislation pending on this topic as well.  Please see below for the most recent data:

Applying Foreign Law in State Court

Over the last five years, states have examined if foreign legal codes, such as the Islamic code of Sharia law, can be used in state courts. Seven states have laws prohibiting the use of foreign law in state courts and one notable court decision has occurred on this topic. For more information, please consult the following links:


Jon Griffin covers constitutional and civil rights issues for NCSL.  You may contact him by email at