Below The Beltway

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Rand Paul, The Civil Rights Act, And Individual Liberty

It looks like Rand Paul may have stepped into the first controversy of his campaign:

Paul has suggested in the past — and been attacked for suggesting — that the federal government has no place regulating private business decisions, even on issues like race and accomodations for the disabled, and was pressed on the question — three times — on NPR just now:
“What I’ve always said is, I’m opposed to institutional racism, and I would have — if I was alive at the time, I think — had the courage to march with Martin Luther King to overturn institutional racism, ad I see no place in our soc for institutional racism,” he said in response to a first question about the act.

“You woul have marched with Martin Luther King but voted with Barry Goldwater?” asked an interviewer.

“I think it’s confusing in a lot of cases in what’s actually in the Civil Rights Case (sic),” Paul replied. “A lot of things that were actually in the bill I’m actually in favor of I’m in favor of — everything with regards to ending institutional racism. So I think there’s a lot to be desired in the Civil Rights — and indeed the truth is, I haven’t read all through it, because it was passed 40 years ago and hadn’t been a real pressing issue on the campaign on whether I’m going to vote for the Civil Rights Act.”

Asked for a third time about that and the Americans with Disabilities Act, he explained his objections to the latter.

Here’s the audio:As Allahpundit notes, Paul made similar comments during an Editorial Board interview with a Kentucky newspaper:

“I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of teling private business owners….”

Paul’s position is essentially identical to the one that Barry Goldwater took when he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act due solely to his belief that two of it’s sections — Title II and Title VII — because he did not believe that the Constitution authorized Congress to regulate purely private behavior, a vote he explained in this Firing Line interview:

In the case Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States and Katzenbach v. McClung, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Title II based on what can only be described as a tortured reading of Commece Clause, but, it’s the law of the land and this entire discussion is, quite honestly, pointless because of that.

If you really had to push me to take sides in this debate, though, I’d be with Paul and Goldwater. As offensive as it is, I do not see any provision in the Constitution that gives Congress the authority to determine who an private individual can and cannot do business with even if that decision is based on someones race or religion, and the Court decisions in Heart of Atlanta and Katzenbach are burdened by the same intellectual flaws that underlie every Supreme Court decision under the Commerce Clause since Wickard v. Filburn. That said, there was much in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was necessary, and should have been passed, just not with the unconstitutional additions that Paul was talking about.

I doubt that this story is over. The left will try to pin Paul as a racist, which is absurd, and the press will ask him the question again. Here’s hoping he’s ready for it this time.

18 Responses to “Rand Paul, The Civil Rights Act, And Individual Liberty”

  1. Noebie says:

    he’s certainly not a racist

    he’s a very typical, impractical, idealist/absolutist

    in his philosophy, the big principles of freedom are sacrificed for the minute principles of personal liberty

  2. Noebie says:

    and particularly, liberty for people with lots and lots of money

    :)

    in america, we are either all free, or none of us are free

  3. You don’t make people free by reducing the liberties of others

  4. Frank N says:

    A guy that’s “100% pro-life” has no idea what individual liberty means.

  5. Frank,

    For you to say that there is only one possible libertarian position on abortion is simply absurd

  6. Frank N says:

    Deciding for others is never libertarian.

  7. Neither is allow the destruction of innocent life.

    My opinions on this issue are not entirely on one side or the other.

    In the early stages of pregnancy, I don’t think it’s anyone business what a woman does. But there comes a point where the fetus becomes a viable human being. At that point, I think abortion for reasons other than imminent threat to the health of the mother is wrong

  8. Noebie says:

    “You don’t make people free by reducing the liberties of others”

    so, i guess we should be able to drive as fast as we wish, on whatever side of the road we would like?

    it is always about balance – and this is where i part ways with most folks who call themselves libertarians

    are you an anarchist, doug? of course not

    reasonable limits on individual liberties as necessary for the function and the good of society are a routine part of what makes america (or any society) work

    we can argue about where the lines should be drawn, but a statement like “You don’t make people free by reducing the liberties of others” doesn’t help the debate – it seems true on the surface, and it provokes our knee-jerk reverence for liberty – but it is often untrue just the same

  9. Bells says:

    Rand Paul opposes the 1964 Civil Rights Act as an unwarranted federal intrusion on private rights. The man is not fit for public office in the 21st Century. But there is an easy solution to defeating Rand Paul in the general election: every American who supports the Civil Rights Act and the government’s right to put an end to racial discrimination should tell every corporation that if their PAC donates to Rand Paul’s campaign then they will be subject to a boycott. These issues were settled 50 years ago with the blood, sweat and tears of thousands. We have no need to revisit them. Shut off the bigot’s source of money and you shut out the bigot from being elected.

  10. [...] I was going to write a post on the subject, but I feel like Doug at Below the Beltway writes what I would have said anyway. Ta-Nehisi Coates disagrees, although his post is a bit laborious in explaining why. Apparently, [...]

  11. The Other Ed says:

    This is the problem with extreme right candidates taking over the GOP. The fact that Rand Paul is opposed to the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, Social Security and the Americans with Disability Act, which was no problem in the primary, will make him unelectable in a general election.

  12. muffler says:

    The legislation is not against constitutional basis. It is a law that was written, debated and enacted by the Congress made up of elected representatives. It is law and not unconstitutional.

  13. [...] Rand Paul, The Civil Rights Act, And Individual Liberty Paul’s position is essentially identical to the one that Barry Goldwater took when he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act due solely to his belief that two of it’s sections — Title II and Title VII — because he did not believe that the Constitution authorized Congress to regulate purely private behavior, a vote he explained in this Firing Line interview … [...]

  14. Cato says:

    Muffler’s misguided position is that if Congressm writes it, debates it and enacts it, it is Constitutional…muffler must not have have heard of John Marshall and the doctrine of judicial review.

    As to Rand’s position, it is just like Goldwater’s and such a position does NOT make one a racist.

  15. plcombs says:

    the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act..both geth thier authority from the The Commerce Clause which is an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3).

    This hasn;t been a legitamet debate for decades..

  16. [...] about this issue since yesterday, I think this is about where I stand on this issue. I stand by what I said when this controversy first broke in that I believe, at least in the abstract, that people should be free to do business or not do [...]

  17. Art Sheppard says:

    Dr. Rand Paul vs Dr. Martin L. King
    Dr. Rand Paul stands in stark contrast to Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. Paul believes that every person not only has the, “right,” to be racist but they also have the right to inflict their beliefs on anyone they choose. He doesn’t seem to understand that even though we have rights to free speech, we don’t have the right to scream, “Fire!” in a crowded theater. He forgets or chooses to forget that in this country the only people who have suffered under his belief system are people of color. Except for white males, everyone else have had to struggle mightily to achieve their rights. I wonder if Dr. Paul would hold the same views if he (all his life) was considered a second class citizen and kicked out of ethnic restaurants or movie theaters simply because he was white. Dr. King believed, that all people are created equal and he dedicated and sacrificed his life championing this cause. I met Dr. King when I was a teenager in a chance one on one meeting while I was demonstrating and picketing for the right to work in a Supermarket that heretofore only hired white teenagers. I’ll never forget the words that Dr. King said to me and I speak of this meeting in my book, “Talking Penny.”

    Shame, Dr. Paul, shame.

  18. [...] about this issue since yesterday, I think this is about where I stand on this issue. I stand by what I said when this controversy first broke in that I believe, at least in the abstract, that people should be free to do business or not do [...]

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