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GOP Senate Nominee Paul Opposes Enforcing Civil Rights Act at Private Businesses

May 20, 2010

A recently disclosed interview shows the new Republican Senate nominee in Kentucky, Rand Paul, opposes enforcing the Civil Rights Act on private businesses. In an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal conducted last month, Paul said anti-discrimination laws should only apply to public institutions.

Rand Paul: "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."

Questioner: "But under your philosophy, it would be OK for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworth’s?"

Rand Paul: "I would not go to that Woolworth’s, and I would stand up in my community and say it’s abhorrent. But the hard part, and this is the hard part about believing in freedom is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example, you have to — for example, most good defenders of the First Amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things."

Last night Paul appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, where he was questioned about his views. Paul said he favored desegregating public areas like water fountains and schools in the 1960s, but suggested he would have opposed efforts to desegregate privately owned lunch counters.

Rand Paul: "Well, what it gets into is, is that then if 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?"

Paul won the Republican nomination in Tuesday’s primary and has openly allied himself with the Tea Party movement. Last year his communications director, Christopher Hightower, resigned after his MySpace page was found to have a post declaring "Happy N-Word Day" and showing a photo of a lynching around the time of the federal Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

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