Kentucky Republican and Senatorial hopeful Rand Paul didn't waste any time sticking his foot in his mouth. The ink was barely dry on the victory he refused to graciously accept from his opponent, Trey Grayson, when he made statements that criticized the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When interviewed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Paul complained the act was too much of a restriction on private businesses, a continuation of opinions he'd previously voiced on NPR.
Today, Rand Paul has spent a fair amount of time attempting to walk this back while blaming Maddow for even asking the questions. Supporting the end of government-led discrimination against people is something he insists he supports. Taking umbrage with the section of the Civil Rights Act that covered private businesses is another thing altogether. At least according to him.
This sort of thinking never occurs in a vacuum. Rand Paul's words were presaged by those of his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), when he was the sole Congressman to vote against a resolution honoring the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Some choice quotes from his letter on the subject appear below:
"...contrary to the claims of the supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the sponsors of H.Res. 676, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty."
"The federal government has no legitimate authority to infringe on the rights of private property owners to use their property as they please and to form (or not form) contracts with terms mutually agreeable to all parties."
That second remark in particular has a lack of contact with reality that neither Ron nor Rand Paul appear to be able to recognize. When a business owner sets up to provide goods and services, they set up a contract with the appropriate governmental body to follow the laws of the area they operate in. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned Jim Crow laws, the rules under which many states permitted the establishment of segregated businesses. Further, states and cities moved to elect to ban such discrimination if they hadn't already prior to the Act. Therefore, a legal business is required by contract to not discriminate.
All fifty states have such laws on the books. If it's a states' rights matter, the states have spoken. Rand and Ron Paul are not in touch with reality on this issue. Even if by some twist of fate, Section II of the Civil Rights Act were to be eliminated, the states would have parallel legislation. Each state in turn would have to strike those laws, then every municipality in the country. Only then could the business owner be "free" to discriminate.
In case anyone needs to see the statements Rand Paul made last night, this video should provide them with all they need: