Rand Paul revisits Civil Rights Act

Aaron Berk is a computer engineering junior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

Dr. Rand Paul (son of Dr. Ron Paul) of Kentucky secured the Republican nomination for the United States Senate last Tuesday. His nomination has sparked a media firestorm. Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for Senate, claims that Rand Paul plans to “repeal” the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He cites an interview Paul did with Kentucky’s Courier-Journal Editorial Board. I found the video Conway references and at no point does Paul ever call for the repeal of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, nor could I locate any video of Paul calling for such action.

Paul’s position on the 1964 Civil Rights Act is clear: he supports nine of the 10 sections that dealt with removing discrimination by the government. The Jim Crow laws are a perfect example of institutionalized racism on the part of the government; the majority of what the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did was remove any government discrimination. However, Title II of the act deals with discrimination by “public accommodations” which gets into how private business owners can run their businesses.

Specifically, 42 U.S.C. §2000a states: “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion or national origin.”

This is the part of the act that Paul has an objection with. While he does not support racism in any form, he strongly believes in private ownership.

Business owners ought to be able to run their businesses the way they want. This position does in no way, shape or form endorse racism. As Paul said, “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.”

There is a big difference between supporting people’s right to act a certain way and supporting their actual actions. The First Amendment is a great example of this; while many people believe strongly in our First Amendment rights, that doesn’t mean that they agree with what everybody says.

“In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior,” Paul said.

This is exactly the spirit of America. We are a country that allows people to express their views, even if we disagree with them. Similarly, we should allow places of public accommodation to be run as their owners see fit, but if in the case they make what we determine to be poor decisions (discrimination based on race for example) then we can boycott them and speak out against them.

An interesting argument that Paul raised is the controversy with Starbucks allowing people to carry firearms into their stores where it is legal. Some customers have called for Starbucks to prohibit firearms from being carried into their stores, regardless of whether it is legal or not. I’m very much pro-second amendment, but even I think that if Starbucks wants to prohibit their customers from carrying firearms into their stores, that they should be able to. However, this thinking conflicts with the thinking of people who believe places of public accommodation should not be able to discriminate based on race; either the government controls how businesses are run and prohibits discrimination, or the government allows businesses to be run by their owners and leaves the decisions up to them.

One of the reasons why I wanted to share this story is because I think it is somewhat typical of recent political discussions on race. Racial discrimination is still a serious problem in this country and I recognize that. I also recognize however, that in order to move past racial discrimination we need to be able to talk about race openly and respectfully. When people like Paul speak about racial discrimination (and are even opposed to it) but get derailed by any seemingly discriminatory views, it undermines the entire movement to eliminate racial discrimination. I think we need more open discussions on race and not less, and that’s only going to happen if people are open-minded.

  • Keishi

    “Black people aren’t guns.”

    • Aaron Berk

      Agreed, and I see the point you’re making.

      Where do you draw the line?

      Should businesses be able to discrimate based on people being armed or not? Clothing (shirt and shoes required)? Character (rude/noisy/disruptive patrons)? Disability (special handicap tables at restaurants)? Age (youth & senior discounts at movie theathers, theme parks, etc.)?

      Perhpas at some point you come to the realization that it should not be up to the government to decide how exactly businesses can discriminate, but that those decisisons should be left to the management.

      • Keishi

        You draw the line at the point where legislation is absolutely necessary.

        But fine, lets play your slippery slope game. If you carry your argument a little further, I’m betting you’re equally against the provisions within the Civil Rights Act that force private businesses to hire black people and sell them non-segregated housing.

        A private business should be able to discriminate against blacks on it’s own free will. Surely if they’re racist in their hiring no one will frequent such a place!

        Privately owned housing shouldn’t have the long arm of the law interfering! Surely if a landlord doesn’t want to rent to blacks, all of his tenants will move out in protest!

        These are both cases of government legislation attacking private freedoms, an unforgivable sin amongst libertarians.

        Am I wrong? or do you believe that black people should be subject to housing and hiring discrimination?

        • Dan

          “A private business should be able to discriminate against blacks on it’s own free will. Surely if they’re racist in their hiring no one will frequent such a place!”

          If they are racist in their hiring, that means there is a surplus of blacks looking for work (a supply and demand issue). Other competing businesses can employ them for less than the racist business would (to a point, a minimum wage law would prevent those seeking work from finding it since their labor is unaffordable when it’s worth is lower than the minimum wage). Since labor is cheaper for the non-racist business, they can compete with the racist business by selling their goods for less. The racist business can’t make profit in the long run because they can’t compete with the competitor’s prices. The racist business goes out of business.
          The Minimum Wage, Discrimination, and Inequality – http://mises.org/daily/3261

          “Privately owned housing shouldn’t have the long arm of the law interfering! Surely if a landlord doesn’t want to rent to blacks, all of his tenants will move out in protest!”

          Another supply and demand issue. With the landlord refusing to rent to blacks, there is a surplus of people looking for housing. Competing landlords notice that due to the surplus, they can raise rental prices and still find tenants to occupy. This increase in average rental price sends a signal to other property owners that it is profitable to rent their land to tenants rather than use it for other purposes. As more rental units come into the market, the total supply matches the excess demand for them. It becomes harder to fill the available spaces at the high prices. Landlords need to either lower the price or increase the value of the rental unit. The average price of a rental unit decreases as landlords compete with each other. A common roadblock to this process is a price control (the price of a rental can’t exceed $xxx). With the price control in place, the average price of the rent can’t rise above it. Since it can’t rise, property owners see no economic incentive to enter the rental market. Without them entering, the supply of rental units remains constant while a surplus of people looking to rent remain. As a result, existing landlords can discriminate any way they choose, and they have little incentive to maintain their property since /somebody/ will be willing to rent it.
          Price Controls Create Man-Made Disasters – http://mises.org/daily/3025

        • Keishi

          Perhaps I my sarcasm wasn’t clear enough.

          Libertarian answers don’t work. Free market solutions to racism don’t exist.

          • James

            Keishi,

            A simple question: Why did legislatures pass Jim Crow laws mandating segregation in privately owned businesses in the first place??

            After all, if all businesses that offered ‘public accommodations’ were racist and segregating by themselves, why did racist legislators have to FORCE these businesses to offer separate accommodations??

            Why did state and local governments have to infringe on the property rights of white and black businesses that presumably did not want to pay extra for separate bathrooms, waiting rooms, and seating???

            Race is one of many mind tricks used by the state to manipulate and control free individuals.

  • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

    i like the idea of the constitutionality of the public accommodations provision of the civil rights act still being an issue in 2010.

    like sorry bro, lester maddox already tried that shit in the ’60s, and it didn’t work. glad that rand paul is following in his footsteps, though. on the shoulders of giants, eh aaron?

    also, i would like to know how giving restaurateurs their supposed “right” to chase off colored folk with pitchforks would facilitate “respectful” and “open” discussions about race.

    like, please aaron berk, teenage libertarian, explain to us how the “eliminat[ion] of racial discrimination” is the telos of legalized segregation. it’s super unclear how you are drawing that conclusion.

    but i guess rand paul and his dad are just pieces of the puzzle in the search for the genetic cause of libertarianism. godspeed to those brave men and women who work tirelessly toward finding the cure.

  • Richard Bailey

    Aaron,

    You are right on the money. Rand Paul never once condoned racism, he simply stood up for the Constitution.

    The media’s double-standard is on full display once again as a man who questions the constitutionality of a small part -not most of the Civil Rights Act is immediately deemed an unelectable racist with the entire media tearing him down. While our President gets a free pass for attending a black liberation church led by a man with a profound hatred of America and simultaneously announces his run for Senate from the living room of William Ayers…..give me a break.

    Keep up the good writing, Aaron.

    RB

    • Aaron Berk

      Richard,

      Thanks for the support and pointing out some of the double standards that are out there. There are indeed way too many.

  • norris hall

    Rand is posing a legitimate question
    A government does NOT have the right to interfere with an individuals personal rights
    The right to take drugs
    The right to solicit prostitutes
    The right to have an abortion
    The right to view child pornography
    The right to do whatever you want with your private property
    The right to burn your the US flag
    The right to work, have sex, drink, smoke, get married, sign contracts at whatever age you decide…not the government
    Libertairians like Rand Paul believe the government should stay out of our lives and quit telling us how to live.

  • Anonymous Bullshit

    OK, yes Rand Paul wants to protect the constitution and he probably isn’t even racist, but he is ignorant to the fact that his views affect minorities negatively, and he’s happily ready to let those people suffer, even though he said in his interview he wouldn’t support a private business that discriminates, he IS supporting them in the end because he supports the cause and is doing nothing about it. This is the 21st century and we need to evolve, instead of sticking to some bullshit.

    • Brian Richter

      “he IS supporting them in the end because he supports the cause and is doing nothing about it.”

      There is a difference between supporting and condoning a person’s actions. The military defends our freedoms which includes burning the US flag but you would be laughed out of the room if you insisted military members condones burning the US flag. Does that make sense? They support our right to do it but do not condone it.

      We want elected leaders to defend our right to be free even if they disagree with how we exercise that freedom. Will there be a few nutballs that are racist, yea, but should we all be subjected to an over arching federal policy because of a few nutballs, no.

      • Anonymous Bullshit

        He is supporting a system of STRUCTURAL discrimination- and you might want to look this up because it doesn’t just mean an institution causing discrimination against minorities. He is indirectly supporting a SYSTEM that WILL negatively impact minorities and even though he doesn’t condone restaurants to discriminate, he is supporting a system that allows them to do so. I hope you understand that. Leaders like Rand Paul are just going to move our country backwards. Yes, we want leaders to defend our rights to be free, but his viewpoint on the title he wants striked out is hindering to the freedoms of minorities. Yes, there might not be many racist shop owners out there that would deny business, because its not profitable- but we can’t just allow them to not prohibit service to someone because of the way they are born. That is not right, and it shouldn’t matter if it infringes the constitution- which was made by racists, despite intelligent ones. We have to think of minorities who live in small towns in the south who are probably going to be denied service because the way they are simply born. It simply isn’t right, and our country should be progressive enough to ignore that it possibly violates the constitution.

    • Aaron Berk

      Anonymous Bullshit,

      Is it plausible that minorities are currently patronizing racist shop owners, without their knowledge? Just a thought.

  • Anonymous

    I can\’t believe you are supporting the right for businesses to racially discriminate. This is awful. Are you serious?

  • Aaron Berk

    Anonymous,

    I’m not supporting businesses that do (or want to) racially discriminate, but yes, I am supporting their right to do so.

    Is it awful that businesses currently discriminate based on age or memberships?

    • Anonymous

      Why would you want businesses to have the right to racially discriminate?

      • Dan

        Because they will impose a business loss on themselves from a decrease in revenue, possibly putting themselves out of business. They serve as an example that racial discrimination is bad for business.

        • Anonymous

          Why would you want businesses to go out of business?

          • Dan

            Capital is scarce in the sense that obtaining it comes with a price (usually money). Contrast that with the air you breathe which is abundant. It comes free. Since capital is scarce, it must be rationed somehow. In a market economy, money is the yardstick to measure the value of capital. Existing capital plus labor combine to make new capital. A byproduct is waste. One business’s waste product can be another business’s capital input. The only way to know if a business is doing something right is determined by their profit. Profit is an economic sign that a business is doing something right and loss is an economic sign that a business is doing something wrong. Business procedures that yield a loss indicate that they are unsustainable. Ones that yield a profit indicate that they are sustainable. When it becomes apparent that a business is doing something in an unsustainable manner, they should go out of business as quick as possible. The longer they take to die out, the more scarce capital is wasted on them — capital that could have been less scarce, costing the sustainable businesses less resources to obtain it and in turn making them stronger.

            A man digging a ditch out in the middle of nowhere should lose that job as quickly as possible. His labor would be much more beneficial to everyone else and himself if it was employed efficiently in a profit making endeavor.

            Consider the case of GM. They should have gone bankrupt. It would have allowed them to either restructure their debt and labor contracts in order to efficiently produce affordable cars, or to liquidate their assets for pennies on the dollar. These cheap assets could be bought up by other car companies like Tesla in order to let strong businesses grow and hire the laid off employees from GM. Instead, car companies like Tesla, which aren’t politically connected to the degree GM is, don’t get the chance to grow, and they have unfair competition in GM which gets subsidized.

          • Anonymous

            Dan,

            What does this have to do with racial discrimination?

          • Dan

            See my comment near the top of the list (about 4th or so).

            —–
            The Mustang Daily has poor software for comments. It’s full of bugs. Here’s what went down.

            Anonymous said: “Why would you want businesses to have the right to racially discriminate?”

            I replied: “Because they will impose a business loss on themselves from a decrease in revenue, possibly putting themselves out of business. They serve as an example that racial discrimination is bad for business.”

            Anonymous replied: “Why would you want businesses to go out of business?”

            I replied: “Capital is scarce in the sense that obtaining it…”

            Anonymous (1? 2? not sure, use a name, even if it’s fake) replied: “Dan What does this have to do with racial discrimination?”

            I replied: “See my comment near the top of the list (about 4th or so).”

  • FlashlightDr

    The Civil Rights Act of 1968 may have been necessary even from a Libertarian perspective (or at least a majority of it) as every American must have the right to vote unobstructed and to: life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. From our current perspective it is ridicules that someone would not be able to eat at a lunch counter due to their race. Do you think that if the Civil Rights Act was appealed that we would return to the 1960’s? I don’t think so. There seems to be quite a few people that want to encourage the prospective that American’s are dominantly racist. I don’t think that is true. What is true is that a whole industry has been created using the Civil Right Act. I know several small business owners that almost went out of business due to frivolous discrimination law suites. It wouldn’t surprise me if African American’s would have an easier time finding work if the law was appealed. Personally, I am sick of all the race bating that is going on, it’s as if our government and media wants to encourage racial divisiveness, not quell it. It is time to move on; I think that the American people are ready for it. We are not going to overcome racism by constantly reminding people to think of themselves as being from one group or another. Every Law as serious unintended consequences and should have to be renewed periodically. I wish the Civil Right Act would expire- I believe that the American people would do the right thing. Lets just all be American!

  • Anonymous

    surprise surprise cal poly students endorsing a racist systems. If the government never stepped into with this civil rights bill do you honestly think the bus system or the “white only” shops would have closed down in the south. It wasn’t until the civil rights act passed that things started to change and I think it would be 2 step backwards if we revoke it. But who cares the poor white christian males are being SOOOO oppressed from all those “whiny” minorities.

    • Aaron Berk

      Anonymous,

      You need to study history before you start using it in your arguments. The Montgomery Bus Company wanted to stop their discriminatory policy long before the Supreme Court struck down the law (the bus segregation was a *law*). Rosa Parks was arrested – by the government! When African Americans started taking taxis instead of buses, the government threatened to prosecute taxi drivers who charged less than $0.45.

      Please don’t paint the government as the savior to the African Americans….it had its hand in oppression too.

      And it’s only “poor white christian males” that are speaking out in favor of private ownership and liberty? That’s quite a stereotype.

  • Luke
  • josephknots

    If a business is serving people with no membership requirement, then the business should NOT be allow to discriminate based on race, sex, or sexual orientation. If a business requires membership to use the facilities, and receive service, then the business should be allowed to discriminate based on race, sex, and sexual orientation.
    An all women workout club should be allowed. A swinger club should be allowed to keep homosexual out. A country club should be allowed to exclude blacks and other race that the members do not want to deal with.
    A black person should not be turn down at a local pharmacy. It is not right that a black person in a rural area travel 20 miles to another pharmacy when they need to be served.
    If a business is serving people with no membership requirement, then the business should NOT be allow to discriminate based on race, sex, or sexual orientation. If a business requires membership to use the facilities, and receive service, then the business should be allowed to discriminate based on race, sex, and sexual orientation.
    An all women workout club should be allowed. A swinger club should be allowed to keep homosexual out. A country club should be allowed to exclude blacks and other race that the members do not want to deal with.
    A black person should not be turn down at a local pharmacy. It is not right that a black person in a rural area travel 20 miles to another pharmacy when they need to be served.
    A swingers club should be allow to keep homosexuals out. Straight couples may feel intimidated by homosexuals pressuring or introducing them to a bi-sexual lifestyle that they do not want.

    • Dan

      @josephknots: “If a business is serving people with no membership requirement, then…”

      In your argument, the only party that could determine which businesses would be allowed to issue memberships would be government. A government which is full of privileged people who have an incentive to make any decision which gains them more power (political, special favors, money, etc.). In other words, the decision on who can issue memberships could be decided politically rather than rationally. It builds moral hazard into the system.

  • Cory Cook

    I agree with Rand Paul a person should be able to run thier buisness as they see fit. All I know is that blacks Mexicans etc can have thier own groups such as Jack an Jill. Yet if i wanted to raise my son around white people wanted him to play with white kids I’m labled a racist. LaRaza can promote thier race and it be ok. Yet if Im proud to be white and have pride in my heratige I’m a racist. If I dont agree with the bailouts or Obama I’m a racist.

  • josephknots

    How about Hospital refuses to give care because of someone’s race? Let a black person die in the emergency because the hospital does not serve blacks. Hospital has private property rights, right?
    How about a pharmacy refuses to fill heart medication to blacks. Force the black person to drive 20 miles to fill a prescription.
    You do not like to love someone race. I do not want to married a black and have no interest in dating a black woman.
    But I am against denying important service because of someone’s race or sexual orientation.
    A business does not have the same property rights as a private estate. A corporation is an artificial person that does not have the same rights as a natural person. Do you support an oil company pumping big money to an individual politician?
    How about health inspections in restaurants? No health inspections and no food licenses because of fourth amendment. People can die or get sick because of no health inspections.

  • josephknots

    How about Hospital refuses to give care because of someone’s race? Let a black person die in the emergency because the hospital does not serve blacks. Hospital has private property rights, right?
    How about a pharmacy refuses to fill heart medication to blacks. Force the black person to drive 20 miles to fill a prescription.
    You do not like to love someone race. I do not want to married a black and have no interest in dating a black woman.
    But I am against denying important service because of someone’s race or sexual orientation.
    A business does not have the same property rights as a private estate. A corporation is an artificial person that does not have the same rights as a natural person. Do you support an oil company pumping big money to an individual politician?
    How about health inspection in restaurant? No health inspections and no food licenses because of fourth amendment. People can die or get sick because of no health inspections.

  • Pingback: Rand Paul revisits Civil Rights Act «

  • http://ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com ajmacdonaldjr

    Paul’s libertarianism places private property rights over the People’s rights—equal treatment under the law—while the Declaration of Independence supports both.

    Paul’s ignorance of the Declaration’s natural law basis is appalling, as is his ignorance of the natural law basis of Dr. King’s civil rights movement.

    http://ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/rand-paul%E2%80%99s-ignorance-of-natural-law/

  • CrazyCatLady

    It’s quite simple really, you either believe in freedom and liberty or you don’t. Second, it frustates the hell out of me that so many American’s don’t realize you can’t have a right that negates anothers right, that’s the complete opposite of freedom. You have no “right’ to shop at or receive services from a particular business. Businesses are privately owned they should have the right to serve (or not) whomever they want. Don’t you realize that it’s our laws that perpetuate discrimination? To me complaining that you were denied service from a particular businesses is a bit like sitting on the front steps of your parents house and having a temper tantrum because they kicked you out. You can spend your life playing the role of victim living on their porch or you can get off your ass and find your own place to live! I bet there’d be a lot more minority owned businesses if people didn’t insist on forcing racists to serve or hire them. I’ve never understood that anyway, you can’t force someone not to be racist, so why would someone want to live/work/play around people who despised them?