Kentucky Senate: Rand Paul Responds to Civil Rights Controversy

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In a recent interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Rand Paul (R) “appeared uncertain about whether he would have supported forcing private businesses to desegregate in the 1960s, suggesting that might run afoul of his libertarian philosophy,” the New York Times reports.

“I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form,” he said. “ I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race.”

But things got murky from there: “Well, what it gets into is, is that then if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant, even though the owner of the restaurant says, well, no, we don’t want to have guns in here? The bar says we don’t want to have guns in here, because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each other. Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant?”

Democrats were quick to pounce, suggesting that the interview showed that Mr. Paul in fact thought that private businesses had the right to refuse service to patrons based on race.

He’s now provided a statement on this issue, according to Real Clear Politics.

“I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person.  I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation.  Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

“Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.”

“As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years.”

“My opponent’s statement on MSNBC Wednesday that I favor repeal of the Civil Rights Act was irresponsible and knowingly false. I hope he will correct the record and retract his claims.”

“The issue of civil rights is one with a tortured history in this country. We have made great strides, but there is still work to be done to ensure the great promise of Liberty is granted to all Americans.”

“This much is clear:  The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs.  Just look at the recent national healthcare schemes, which my opponent supports.   The federal government, for the first time ever, is mandating that individuals purchase a product.   The federal government is out of control, and those who love liberty and value individual and state’s rights must stand up to it.”

“These attacks prove one thing for certain:  the liberal establishment is desperate to keep leaders like me out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign."

(credit image – daylife/associated press)

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