As the day progresses, Rand Paul is clarifying his position on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, assuring the voters that he will not try to repeal it. This afternoon, a spokesman for the Paul campaign told Greg Sargent, "Civil Rights legislation that has been affirmed by our courts gives the Federal government the right to insure that private businesses don't discriminate based on race. Dr. Paul supports those powers."
It's nice that Paul doesn't want to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race, but it still skirts the issue. Because clearly, if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were to come about now, Rand would be against it.
How do we know? Because Paul objected to another act which sought to end racial discrimination, this time in 2002:
In a May 30, 2002, letter to the Bowling Green Daily News, Paul's hometown newspaper, he criticized the paper for endorsing the Fair Housing Act, and explained that "a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination, even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin."…
"The Daily News ignores," wrote Paul, "as does the Fair Housing Act, the distinction between private and public property. Should it be prohibited for public, taxpayer-financed institutions such as schools to reject someone based on an individual's beliefs or attributes? Most certainly. Should it be prohibited for private entities such as a church, bed and breakfast or retirement neighborhood that doesn't want noisy children? Absolutely not."
In language similar to the language he's used talking about the Civil Rights Act, Paul criticized racism while defending the right of businesses to discriminate.
"A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination," wrote Paul, "even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin. It is unenlightened and ill-informed to promote discrimination against individuals based on the color of their skin. It is likewise unwise to forget the distinction between public (taxpayer-financed) and private entities."
So even though Paul won't try to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he's still in favor of allowing businesses to discriminate on the basis of race. Not in favor of it morally (he insists), but in favor of allowing businesses to get away with it.
Much as Rand Paul would like, this issue really isn't about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His worldview applies to discrimination today. What are his views on the Lilly Ledbetter Act, or a law against discriminatory housing against gays? I think we know where he stands. It's where he would have stood back in 1964.