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

Paul takes heat for civil rights comments

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Drew Williams

    This is what libertarians and libertarian-leaning Republicans think, that government should play nearly an absent role in the lives of individual Americans, no matter how right the cause, no matter what the ultimate benefit. Unfortunately, that rigid view throws the baby out with the bath water, removing a player that has the power to do great good based solely on a single, ideological belief: there can be no good government at the societal level. That's why these people are so dangerous.

    May 20, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. Wisconsinite

    Rand Paul – One PRIMARY and DONE!

    May 20, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  3. Future expat

    Hopefully having a hardcore Libertarian as a senate candidate will bring this bankrupt, unworkable philosophy and all its insanity to the forefront.

    May 20, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. scott

    This guy is just another right wing racist with a fancy new label called Teabag. Nothing new or refreshing about them. They will be going away like all other fads do in this country.

    May 20, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. true liberal

    liberals only look into issues as far as it will suit their beliefs...rand stands for a single philosophy that government has no place in telling people HOW TO LIVE!!!!! he doesnt care whether the government force being used aligns with his beliefs, he doesn't want to use government force at allll.....liberals love government force when it tells people they have to be "green" and conservatives love it when it makes schools teach creationism instead of evolution..... liberals and conservatives are in fact just lobbyist trying to force their beliefs on others

    May 20, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. rj

    Yah Ron Paul had some sense and credibility but that was clearly not passed on to his kid.

    May 20, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Dave

    I have got some bad news for all independents and democrats posting to this article. The only way Kentucky is not going to elect Rand Paul, Republican to the Senate is if he commits murder and is convicted of it between now and November (and that remains debatable). A southern state not electing a republican senator right now is like Rush Limbaugh joining both the NAACP and It just is not going to happen.

    Remember this: Truly ignorant people are really dangerous. Rand Paul is ignorant (like his father).

    May 20, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. independent voter

    this idiot is as stupid as palin!

    God Bless President Obama, VP Biden, the First Families and "Bo"

    May 20, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Robert - Atlanta, GA

    Ok folks who are trying to agree with R. Paul on this (which by the way, you are nuts just as he his for trying to make sense of it). Have you ever heard of a word called anarchy? That is why the Federal government has to step in on certain levels. Once you take away controls from certain groups of morons as Paul suggests to do, control is lost and you then have anarchy. We have seen it and learned about it and it has never been a good thing. His problem is his own interpretation of the constitution. Our 4 fathers never meant for an idiot like this to try and interpret the constitiuion and as many ratifications the SUPREME COURT has made, not the federal government, why i nthe world would you even entertain this idiot. Goes to question your own ethics if you are trying to make sense of this fool!!!!!!

    May 20, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. librarian

    I watched him being interviewed on the Rachel Maddow show. He never answered any questions but went on and on to evade the topic. Frankly I saw the face of fascism! and not a pretty sight.

    May 20, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. NoBama

    So what is the problem? I don't see a problem with what he said.
    Listen, there is going to be a huge shif in America next november. Get ready to hear stuff you may not agree with. Get over it. Grow up. Move on. Liberals will expose themselves every time. They are emotional beings. Wah wah wah, that's not fair. Their mothers coddeled them too much. It's extra hard for them to cope. Too bad.

    May 20, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Mike

    I'd never vote for him, but what he is saying isn't that big of a deal. He believes that the government should be reduced and smaller, its a cornerstone of the Republican party. He thinks the government should not be allowed to tell a business who they can/can't/have to/aren't allowed to do business with.

    He obviously isn't saying business owners should be able to get away with murder on their business property. I disagree with his position, but I think its sad that people are either a.) misunderstanding it, or b) intentionally blowing it out of context to make it look like he wants to take the country back to pre-civil rights era.

    Fight against a position with a better position, don't mislabel the other person's position.

    May 20, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Nsikan

    Liberty and Justice for ALL – Ran you missed that part of your libertarianism

    May 20, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. Chandler01

    He claims that the goverment shouldn't interfere in relationships...and yet he is AGAINST Gay Marriage! That is the ultimate interference of government in the rights of consenting adults.

    May 20, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. Laurie

    I wish CNN would ask him about the American with Disabilities Act. My understanding is that he also said he had problems with it. This really disturbs me. People with disabilities and their families have worked very hard to make those with disabilities more accepted. The ADA helped with this. Without this law, mere access to areas would not even be possible for many. (How do you get to any office on a second floor of a government building or a library; how do you ride a bus; how do you get a cab to stop for you; how do you get to the second floor of a school?) The law allowed a number of those with disabilities to become more independent and it gave them access to jobs they would not have had. If one can get a job, it means he doesn't have to depend on the government as much to just live and that should appeal to those who see this as an economical issue as well as a human rights issue. To know that Dr. Paul does not agree with having the ADA is scary for those with disabilities and their families. Please question him about this.

    May 20, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. GunsInTheSky

    If this was any where else but in the South, I would say this comment would cause him to lose the election...and rightfully so. But this is just how they view things down there. That is why the Tea Party is so popular there...another Tea Party candidate, another racist. That is a given.

    May 20, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Richard

    Rand got one thing right; apparently we do tolerate boorish and uncivilized speech in this country. Letting him go on air and go on and on is a perfect example. Oh and it's only May! How many more times do you think this out of the mainstream, right wing tea bagging nut will put his foot in his mouth? Democrats chances in Kentucky will improve daily, cannot wait for the debates!

    May 20, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Wisconsinite

    I guess this is what the TPee-ers mean when they say "take our country back". Yeah fools . . . . backWARD!!!

    May 20, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. Mike

    ...and inside my business I can show porn to children, sacrifice exotic pets, and sell narcotics. This guy makes Sarah Palin look smart.

    May 20, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  20. joe

    You have got to remember the context here. Blacks were enslaved, beaten, maimed, killed, taken from their families, sold as chattel, raped, etc. You can't erase that truth so when someone says they want to exclude blacks from their restaurant it is layered on top of our greatest national embarrassment. Read the history books, Mr. Paul, but not the ones that make slavery seem benign and that claim that the poor blacks were incapable of taking care of themselves...those nice slave owners were just being good Samaritans. Mr. Paul, you should be ashamed of yourself!

    May 20, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. rta

    troubling quotes
    Take our country back
    Picking a part the civil rights legislation in the name of the constitution
    We are all Arizonians
    They are going to take our guns
    and more from Paul, Palin, Bachman, Limbaugh, Beck, DeMint, and Boehner.
    These people continue to make mischief out of a volatile national situation,
    that is experiencing an oil spill, two wars, a deficit, high unemployment, a recovering economy, threats of terrorism ( both
    foreign and domestic), and racial profiling by individual states.
    None of the above people have the answer and Paul is just showing
    America how much mischief he is willing to wage

    May 20, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. Liberal4Obama

    The racist teabaggers want to divide America for their own political gain. They are truly despicable.

    May 20, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Joe

    JATPR – Just Another Tea Party Racist. Did anyone really expect anything different? We've been telling everyone for years that racism is alive and well in this country. Do you believe us now?

    Tea Party = Rascists. Period.

    May 20, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. mdn

    Put up the fence, close down the border. Come and join our new white order.

    May 20, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. IF

    «Paul said he supports the 46-year old measure except for the provisions that outlaw private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.»

    This is one of the most idiotic sentences I've ever read. Is he saying that only public (funded with public money, I suppose) restaurants, for example, may not discriminate on the basis of race??? This meaning that if anyone decided I might be of mixed race I could be thrown out of a restaurant? Oh... that must do wonders for tourism. Better put a notice on the door like: "Please, bring your Arian thoroughbred certificate". Besides... I thought the First Amendment had to do with free exercise of religion, free speech, right to peaceful assemble and normal things like that.

    May 20, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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