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. ellid

    Just as bad was his interview with NPR where he said that he would have opposed the American with Disabilities Act. He came across as a rigid, doctrinaire bigot who has zero idea of the reality of life outside his nice little upper-income bubble.

    This is the Tea Party, America. Nice people, no?

    May 20, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. Pegasus

    I watched the interview last night on the "Rachel Maddow" show and it was obvious Rand Paul evaded the questions Rachel was asking him. She simply wanted a "yes" or "no" answer which he couldn't give directly because, to me, he was hiding behind a veil of his true feelings about Civil Rights. He tried to sugarcoat his answers but it didn't work because most watchers saw beyond that veil his true feelings. If people like Rand Paul feel the way he does, why do they even bother to run for such positions with their backwards thinking? We don't need those type of newcomers to the senate. It's bad enough there are enough of them like him already serving in congress and who should be removed, forcibly.

    May 20, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Jason

    You Rand are a hypocrite and a liar. You have surrounded yourself with people who are blatant racists. Anyone who dresses in black face and compares Obama to Hitler is a racist. I didn't see blacks wearing white face and comparing Bush to a Bush!

    Rand and the Tea-Baggers will go down with the ship. They want lower taxes and a bankrupt America. Lower taxes are the reason America is a 3rd world cesspool today! We have failing infrastructure. We have a overworked understaffed military. We have a failing industrial complex and a failing school system. But hey lets cut taxes so we don't have to pay for anything right?

    May 20, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Seattle Sue

    If Rand Paul is an example of the Tea Party, then I want nothing to do with the Tea Party!

    May 20, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    LOL. Please put more teabaggers on the ballots. I can envision a 70 seat Democratic Senate and 300 seats in the House with more teabaggers opening their mouth.

    May 20, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. harvey

    joshua: thinks logically and draws his logic from the Constitution? this guy is a racist through and through, there's nothing logical about what he says. send him a white sheet and hood.

    May 20, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. cdavis

    he is crazy and he need to take a look at himself first a tea party nut

    May 20, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. lstro

    Not surprising that the Tea Party hypocrisy would be successful in Kentucky where racism has always been alive and well. Rand Paul, Shara Palin, Rush, Beck, Oneil, the only two things missing is a burning cross and pointed hoods on their heads. Wake up America. These individuals if they could would change this country to a Devided States of America.

    May 20, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Tom

    I love this guy. Finally someone who isn't scared to tell the truth. I took a business class last semeter that talked about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This act was and is one of the most racist acts I have ever seen. If you are a minority you can apply for a job that you have no skills for and if a white guy applies for the same job but has 10 years experience, you will get sued for discrimination if you hire the white guy. How is that not racist?? The problem with this country is everyone is scared about dealing with the race card so anytime something doesn't go a black or minority persons way, the race card will be thrown out there. I can't wait to see what happens in 30 years when the white person is the minority, I can only imagine at that time that "minority" rights only apply if you are non-white.

    May 20, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Steve (the real one)

    Sniffit May 20th, 2010 12:10 pm ET
    BTW, Goldwater and his ilk made the same arguments in 1964 that Paul is making now. It's either 100% nutjobbery or some half-cocked mix of nutjobbery and thinly veiled attempts to hide racist beliefs behind an ideological curtain of zealot-speak rhetoric.
    Sniffit, you seem to be a man who knows some history. Let me share a little with you.

    Remember Lloyd Benson? He was Mondale's pick for VP. He cancelled his membership to an all white country club while a candidate for VP. After he lost, he REJOINED! My point is you rant loud and long about the GOP and sometimes, rightfully so. HOWEVER, you seem to not mention the skeletons in the DEM closet! Both parties are made up of people who have issues! Not just the GOP and not just the DEMS. Don't let your biases make you forget that fact! !

    May 20, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. Left Coast Mike

    He's the tea baggers' candidate and he is expressing their views, quite clearly, and after seeing & hearing him on three different news broadcasts, it's apparent he's either stupid or a racist. In either event, he's unfit for the job, although the guy he is replacing was not much better. But it's Kentucky, not exactly a bellweather for the nation, so what should we expect. His father, as libertarian and radical in his views as he is, at least engages his brain before his mouth. This guy gets an F in history, as wellas pubkic speaking. What a total moron.

    May 20, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. Told ya!

    Oh yea, right. The tea party "patriots" are not racists. There is one reason and one reason only that the tea party exists: There is a black man and his black family living in the White House. Period. Fox and Freaks, Palin, Beck, Limpballs, Levine, Hannity, McConnell, Boehner, DeMint, Bachmann (you get the idea) and their all their rants = There is a black man and his black family living in the White house. Period.

    May 20, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Clay

    I don’t particularly like him or his father, but Paul is right. The Constitution does not provide for the intrusion into private opinions that are protected by the 1st Amendment.

    Many of the comment on this page are sadly misinformed, wrong and just plain pig-headed.

    Discrimination is not only legal, it is natural; You and I discriminate nearly every day of our lives. Our Government has legalized and institutionalized this discrimination because it is necessary or to force other wise would violate someone else right.

    For example the military discriminates and most accept this as appropriate. The UCMJ codifies that discrimination into law, then DoD issues policies and regulations furthering it. Don’t ask to tell, no women in combat arms, physical fitness requirements, rejection of physical and mentally handicapped persons these are just a few. But you cannot argue there is a need for some of these discriminations.

    We also discriminate based on our preconceived notion or stereotypes, I will not visit an ATM after mid-night in an area were youths hang out. I am more caution if those youths, especially male youths are from a disadvantaged class.

    As far as Pat in Jacksonville’s comment on the carry of concealed weapon, yes one can carry concealed in most states when properly licensed. One would expect someone from FL to know that, and yes the owner can refuse entry and service should he choose to.

    The owner who chooses to refuse service to someone does so at his risk, economics will surely correct his stupidity.

    But stupidity isn’t against the law and neither should the right of refusal in a private business.

    May 20, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. Wanda

    This is very similar to a freedom of speech issue. "I do not agree with what you are saying, but I will defend your right to say it."

    Rand does not agree with racism, but he will defend people's right to act in a racist manner. We should not let people act in a racist manner. We should stop them from deny business to people for any reason. We should stop them from writting dirogatory things about people not like themselves beacuse that makes things worse. We should make them be friends with people they do not like. Things will be better then.

    Business do not have the right to deny service to anyone. That is the law. It does not matter if it is private and doesn't use government money. It is in our country using our air and water and land so we get to tell them what to do whether they like it or not. They are lucky we don't just nationism all private businesses.

    May 20, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. richard in montana

    Another bigot from the teabagger society.

    May 20, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. Lisa

    So, his idea of small government is one that has to include him in it!!!

    that makes a lot of sense...........for the wakos like him and the tea partiers.

    Very, very altruistic people I have to say.

    May 20, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Bill

    Why can't men play in the WNBA? Because it is for girls only? And that is OK because...

    May 20, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. cspurgeon

    He is very inexperienced or he would just lie like the rest. I am concerned about his views and would never vote for someone with those views but don't believe him to be a racist even though many in this country are on both sides. Oh well Kentuckys problem...

    May 20, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. ex-liberal

    paul simply says that he doesn't want t to used government force to make people do things....liberals with their moral superiority want the government to force people to be "Green" at the same time conservatives want to use government force to ensure gay people never marry... his arguement is to have a government small enough to which its power can cater to any special interest

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

    Civil rights are for EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN, not just black and brown ones! You never hear one of these race pimps state how many WHITE AMERICANS gave their lives during the civil war to assure that people of all color were treated fairly or took part in the 60's to assure that people were not discriminated against unfairly.

    Civil rights provided the opportunity to a level playing field, individual freedoms and choices are what take you to the top! It has now been politicized to create a voting block platform, it is nothing more now!

    May 20, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. ex-liberal

    excuse me ****cant cater to any special interest

    May 20, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  22. nini


    At Grog in Ohio; I am Tea Party supporter and I am sick and tired of being called racist for disagreeing with some.

    You don't know me but because you disagree with me you give your self the right to call me "bald-faced racism" but I don't have the right to tell you that I LOVE AMERICA and proud of my flag!!! And will stand up for what is right.

    May 20, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. Mike in NYC

    The simple truth is that the Civil Rights Act overturned the natural right to associate freely. Not something that a lot of people want to hear.

    If you're a resident landlord, for example, then the Fed Gov is telling you that you have no say in who lives in your house. Definitely not right.

    May 20, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. Bubba

    Er, eric, are you saying he didn't say those things? Or that you don't think what he said is racist? You must REALLY like this guy, but I think your loyalty is misplaced.

    May 20, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. Buddy

    I'm curious if black people who own restaurants would be able also to not let whites in if they so desire ? What is Paul's opinion on this ???

    This guy IS a moron, doesn't speak well for his family nor his state of Kentucky...

    May 20, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
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