May 20th, 2010
12:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Paul takes heat for civil rights comments

Paul is facing fire for comments on the Civil Rights Act.
Paul is facing fire for comments on the Civil Rights Act.

(CNN) - Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway is putting the heat on GOP rival Rand Paul over Paul's recent comments regarding the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Paul - the Tea Party favorite who easily beat Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the state's May 18 Senate primary - repeatedly dodged questions in recent media interviews about whether he thinks parts of the landmark legislation amount to a constitutional overreach.

An interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal last month highlighted Paul's controversial views during which he said: "I don't like the idea of telling private business owners-I abhor racism-I think it's a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant. But at the same time I do believe in private ownership. But I think there should be absolutely no discrimination on anything that gets any public funding and that's most of what the Civil Rights Act was about to my mind."

Following his primary victory on Tuesday, Paul was again questioned over his views regarding the legislation on National Public Radio and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. In response to questions, Paul said he supports the 46-year old measure except for the provisions that outlaw private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.

While stressing that he is opposed to discrimination in any form, Paul suggested the measure runs up against individuals' First Amendment and property rights.

"I think what's important in this debate is not getting into any specific 'gotcha' on this, but asking the question 'What about freedom of speech?' Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things that freedom requires," he said.

He also said, "[I]f 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?"

Conway said the statements are indicative of Paul's "narrow political philosophy that has dangerous consequences for working families, veterans, students, the disabled, and those without a voice in the halls of power."

The Democratic National committee is also putting the heat on Paul, sending several e-mails to reporters Thursday morning highlighting the quotes.

In a subsequent statement Thursday Paul made clear he does not believe the Civil Rights Act should be repealed.

Paul also took issue with the American with Disabilities Act - the 1990 measure that afforded the same rights to individuals with disabilities as those who are protected by the Civil Rights Act.

"I think a lot of things could be handled locally," he told NPR of the legislation. "For example, I think that we should try to do everything we can to allow for people with disabilities and handicaps. You know, we do it in our office with wheelchair ramps and things like that. I think if you have a two-story office and you hire someone who's handicapped, it might be reasonable to let him have an office on the first floor rather than the government saying you have to have a $100,000 elevator. And I think when you get to the solutions like that, the more local the better, and the more common sense the decisions are, rather than having a federal government make those decisions."

Paul is a first time political candidate and son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Paul's victory levied a direct blow to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who tapped Grayson for the party nomination last year. McConnell and other GOP leaders in Washington, however, were quick to line up behind Paul after his win in a show of party unity.

Paul will be a guest on The Situation Room Thursday at 5 p.m. ET.


Filed under: 2010 • Jack Conway • Kentucky • Popular Posts • Rand Paul
soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Dano

    So Mr. Rand would like to take America back to the days where it was OK for restaurants to refuse to serve black people, or signs could be posted in the window saying "Irish need not apply" ? It's truly insane that 50 years after this truly historic legislation that prohibited discrimination in America based on race and religion and led to enlightenment around the world would even be under discussion. It just goes to show that no matter how advanced a society appears there is always a chance of regressing if we don't stay vigilant.

    May 20, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Turnabout is Fair Play

    I think there should be absolutely no discrimination on anything that gets any public funding and that's most of what the Civil Rights Act was about to my mind."

    Following his primary victory on Tuesday, Paul was again questioned over his views regarding the legislation on National Public Radio and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. In response to questions, Paul said he supports the 46-year old measure except for the provisions that outlaw private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.

    ----------------–

    I knew it wouldn't be long before a neo-con neophyte like you would screw up and it was less than a week before you did. Keep it up fool, we Dems will be taking your post in November with no problems at ALL.

    May 20, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    He is basically saying that the law stops at the door or a private business! Follow that logic, and murder becomes legal within the business, too! So does consumer fraud, and any other crime! That doesn't sound like he *abhors* them too much, does it?

    May 20, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. Scott

    Rand is 100% right on these issues. If people would actually look at what he's saying instead of being simple-minded and looking only at the surface, they would understand where he's coming from and would realize he makes good points. Way too many people refuse to question anything that they've always believed was a certain way so they automatically discredit anyone like Rand who raises an argument for the other side.

    May 20, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Molly Weasley

    So no private business should be regulated? That's apparently what Rand Paul thinks.

    Not only does that give a restaurant owner the right to refuse service to anyone he or she wants, but that means that owner could serve eggs with salmonella, or salad with E. coli, or spoiled meat. No public health official would be allowed to see if there were rats or roaches in the kitchen.

    Of course, that restaurant owner had to drive over a road that the government built to get to his or her place of business. A government-built sidewalk is in front of the place. No doubt the government is paying the salaries of the police who are patrolling the roads, and the government is paying the salaries of the teachers who are teaching his children.

    So I guess he - and Rand Paul - already are getting government benefits. Not to mention the government funds Dr. Paul takes when he accepts payment for treating Medicare patients.

    Face it, Dr. Paul - you lost this one. And you're going to lose in November when the good people of Kentucky see what a fraud you are.

    May 20, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. joshua

    you can agree or not with paul, but his thoughts show a rarity in politics- a pol who thinks logically, and draws his logic from the constitution. one of the hardest things to find is a government official who knows not only what you can't do because of existing law, but has a developed sense of what government SHOULDN'T do, even if their authority allows them the opportunity.

    May 20, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. mary

    He is basically saying that the law stops at the door or a private business! Follow that logic, and murder becomes legal within the business, too! So does consumer fraud, and any other crime! That doesn't sound like he *abhors* them too much, does it?

    May 20, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. scott from MICH

    Sickening. Every man and woman for his self. Great if u have power and wealth! This isn't 1776. I'm sick and tired of this Constitution excuse for taking away rights from everyone that's suffered from those who held power from day 1 and Created the environment for most who weren't White and Male to have basic rights.

    May 20, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    All men are created equal......unless the store owner disagrees :)

    May 20, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. LIP

    We live in America where Freeedom of Speech is guaranteed to everyone, no matter what. Live with it and understand that even though we may find it abhorant, we must allow it..

    May 20, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. What a joke!

    These are the types of people Tea partiers and republicans want in office making our laws?!!! OUTRAGEOUS!

    May 20, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. tarry o

    budget deficits and government spending is nothing more than a trojan horse for racist republicans to "take back their country"...once the budget is balanced (as it will be balanced again as these things go in cycles), what will be their agenda...fortunately or unfortunately Paul gave us insight into their true motivations to "take back their country"

    May 20, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Tom

    How will your state pay for medicare, social security, the prison system, police and fire ... oh, it probably can't. Without higher taxes. Tell me, Paul, how do you expect to get other states on board with ending those programs. And, when your state has to take them over without federal grants and financial support from other states, will you raise taxes? How will you break that to the tea party crowd? Do you have a plan? Also, why do you want to close and under cut schools? Don't we need more hospitals instead of fewer hospitals?

    May 20, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Tom Jerou

    Where are the candidates on the most important issues that affect american consumers?? The Senate just rejected and ammendment to the financial reform bill that most impacts our individual finances. On a 60-35 vote, the supreme court 1978 ruling that allows credit card companies to use the laws they control in South Dakota and Delaware to change interest rates arbittrarily across the county overriding all other federal and state laws. The loan sharking, permitted by two states, by banks and other credit card issurers must end asap to allow consumers to avoid life long financial servitude to these companies.

    The 60 senate members that voted to allow this loan sharking to continue have betrayed us all in support of their financial industry contributers and lobbys.

    Where is the Tea Party and other polititians that supposedly represent the "people" of this country???

    The 60 supporters of loan sharking in the senate should immediately be held accountable for their actions.

    May 20, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. Doug

    This is the problem with ideologues on both extremes. Reasonable government regulation in areas where the free market does not work is well accepted by a large majority of the nation. We have overwhelmingly accepted that federal prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, etc. in employment, housing, and access to restaurants, businesses, etc. is clearly an legitimate area for government regulation. The majority has long ago spoken and determined that the harm imposed by such invidious discrimination justifies the intervention into private business. Environmental regulation is another legitimate area of federal government regulation, because the free market does not adequately account for externalitites such as pollution. We should always question whether the costs of government regulation outweigh the benefits, but to take rigid stands like Paul does is not what the country needs from its leaders.

    May 20, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Pat in Jacksonville, FL

    I think his analogy to carrying a gun in a public place is very misguided. It's against the law in most states to carry a concealed weapon. So it wouldn't be the restaurant owener saying "I don't want people with guns in my restaurant" it would be the police. I watched the Rachel Maddow show and listened to the interview. He tried his best to "two-step" around the issue but truth be told. This is a representative of the Tea Party, they endorsed him and they knew what his thoughts were on the Civil Rights law long before. All you have to do is Google his name and the articles about his views are many. But the Tea Party (according to them) aren't racist and they are inclusive. Yeah and I've got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

    May 20, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. leonard

    you can't walk both ways of the street, paul.

    May 20, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Lora

    Discrimination is discrimination. Period. Got that Mr. Paul. It's simple. Like you.

    May 20, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. Jeff

    Just when you think you exercised the stupidity from the Republican Party, ie. George and Dick, a new stupid-demon arrives. You really need to step outside your head and actually listen to what you're saying. No politician in his right mind could possibly be that stupid to say what you've said about the Civil Rights bill, segretation, and ADA unless they were oxygen starved as a child, drop on their head, or has turrets syndrome. The only thing that is possibly dumber are the politicians who rallied to your side and the people who will vote for you. In any event, thank you Mr. Paul and the Republican establishment for yet another reason for me, a life long Republican, to vote Democrat.

    May 20, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Paul is, of course, absolutely right. Congress was never given the power to interfere in the relationship between individuals.

    May 20, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. ToughLove

    I don't know this man, so I won't defend him. But it seems that he's stating a position that liberals hold when it comes to those who hold different ideaologies than they...ie, calling people "homophobes" when they disagree with homosexual marriage, labeling people "racist" when they want our border laws enforced or disagree with our black President, attaching the stigma of "warmongers" to those who believe in military might, etc. He is defending the rights of idiots to be idiots.

    May 20, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Marktmurphy5

    Oops, sorry. Forgot that only litmus tests approved by the left are permitted.

    May 20, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. susanj

    Any American Citizen no matter their race, religion, sex , etc. should never be discriminated against. That is what the Tea Party stands for and he just said it loud and clear. They are racists through and through.

    May 20, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. Shirley in California

    As I watched the interview he had with R. Maddow, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with K. Olbermann. Him and his father are losers. For once in his life he is getting some attention. I hope neither of them is EVER given a real opportunity or platform to disrespect the men and women of this country who are lamed, dead or difigured because of racism. He can avoid the real questions all he wants. Its pure and simple what he is.

    May 20, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  25. FAY MOGHTADER

    raun paul the father,at least made sense when he talkes,this guy is a morran with no brain and an oppurtunist,we will see how he will change colors as his carres unfolds.i guess we still have a fraction of american population,quite ignorant and racist.

    May 20, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
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