Rand Paul: ‘I've Never Wavered' In Support For Civil Rights Act


During an appearance at Howard University on Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made misleading claims about his past support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“I’ve never wavered in my support for civil rights or the Civil Rights Act," he said, speaking at the traditionally black school. "The dispute, if there is one, has always been about how much of the remedy should come under federal, or state, or private purview."

But that's just not true. In 2010, as a Senate candidate, Paul came under fire for a series of comments he made criticizing the Civil Rights Act.

On her MSNBC show at the time, Rachel Maddow asked Paul about an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, in which he voiced reservations about one section of the Civil Rights Act.

Here's the transcript from the Louisville Courier-Journal interview:

INTERVIEWER: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that.


PAUL: You had to ask me the “but.” 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 in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what the Civil Rights Act was about to my mind.

Maddow pressed Paul on his statements, and Paul said that while he agreed with most parts of the Civil Rights Act, he was opposed to Title II, the section that made it a crime for private businesses to discriminate against customers on the basis of race. Paul said that he would have tried to change the bill if he was in office at the time. (He was two years old when the landmark legislation passed.)

In the ensuing firestorm, Paul said he regretted appearing on the show. ""It was a poor political decision and probably won't be happening anytime in the near future," he said. He later released a statement, stating his support for the Civil Rights Act. "I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws," it read, in part.

You can watch Paul's 2010 comments to the Louisville Courier-Journal below, courtesy of ThinkProgress:

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