Americans Support Strengthening U.S. Civil Rights Laws
A national survey of American attitudes toward rights and responsibilities in the United States finds that large majorities now favor strengthening the nation’s civil rights laws, despite continuing partisan division.
Following an earlier poll conducted in July 2020 in which majorities agreed that rights in the U.S. face “serious threats” and are not “secure”, the new poll examines in detail American attitudes on civil rights issues in which rights are threatened, including voting rights, police reform, racial discrimination, equal opportunity, access to the basic necessities of life such as health care and housing, and social media regulation.
After a year marked by the COVID pandemic, economic hardship, racial reckoning, political division and the attack on the US Capitol, an overwhelming bipartisan majority (95%) of Americans say “it is the responsibility of government to protect the lives, livelihoods and rights of all Americans.” 93% are “fed up with polarization” and “politicians who are intentionally dividing our country, and 96% believe that “Americans have a responsibility to respect the rights of others.” Despite polarization, the pandemic year seems to have brought many Americans closer together. In the July 2020 poll, 71% expressed the view that “Americans have more in common than many people think.” By May 2021 that view had increased to 88%.
The poll was commissioned by the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and is part of a Carr Center initiative, Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the United States, that is analyzing the condition of rights in the United States and the attitudes of Americans toward their rights and responsibilities as citizens and the responsibility of government for protecting and enforcing civil rights.
The Reimagining Rights project is directed by John Shattuck, Carr Center Senior Fellow and former US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The project is overseen by a faculty committee chaired by Carr Center Faculty Director Mathias Risse, with the participation of Executive Director Sushma Raman, and the support of the Carr Center staff. The nationwide poll of 2000 adults was conducted by NORC, an independent research institution at the University of Chicago, between May 10-20, 2021. The margin of error for the study is +/-3.03%.