Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The liberal news media is jumping on Rand Paul for his comment about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He is saying that he opposes the portion of the bill which forbids business owners from refusing to do business with people on the basis of race, though he himself is against such racial discrimination, has no plans to introduce legislation to repeal it, and supports the other portions of it banning discrimination by the government. So what’s the deal with this? Is he right or wrong? What does the Constitution say? What does the Bible say? Does this it give American more or less freedoms? Has this well-intended legislation caused more harm than good?

The Bible teaches that governments are instituted by God among men to punish evil. But there is clear evidence from the Scriptures and in practice that it is impossible to punish every evil act. One would find it hard to find a definitive set of Biblical rules that would distinguish those acts which should be punished in way that would include racial discrimination.

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution clearly indicates that Congress has only powers which have been delegated to it by the Constitution. Why have a 14th amendment, then? Why say in the 14th amendment that Congress has the “power to enforce the provisions of this article” if they could enforce it without that language being added? Why not just pass it as a federal law in Congress? Why try to pass an Equal Rights Amendment if this already what the Constitution says??? Liberals like Chris Matthews of Hardball understand this, but they believe it is impractical to follow the Constitution that closely. (Yet some liberals like Rachel Maddow take this position and then complain about the government violating the Constitution in other instances.)

Though there are a lot of amendments which give Congress the authority to act in matters of civil rights, there is clearly is no place in the Constitution which grants the Congress to make anti-discriminatory laws against private citizens. Unlike Rand Paul, I would go further and say that they don’t even have the authority to ban racial discrimination by state and local governments*, though I would favor a Constitutional amendment which would ban this practice.

As Rand has pointed out (being silent on the above arguments, unfortunately) such legislation against business owners deprives them of the free use of their property. The moment the legislature begins to say, “you can only use your property how we want you to use it”, you no longer own your property. Even though such discrimination is a damnable sin, the passage of this legislation continued a precedent which allows the government to take away your property any time they think that you are “using it for evil”. This is clearly tyrannical.

The portion of the Civil Rights Act which applies to the citizens has clearly done more harm than good. If you knew that a business owner was a racist, why would you want to patronize his establishment anyway? If it were not for this law, you could easily boycott businesses owned by racists, because you would know it before you walk through the door. But because of this law, you don’t always know. The liberals put less faith in the people to convince their fellow citizens to repent of such behavior, than in civil government. What should be done with these racists? Put them in jail? Do you think that that is really going to do anybody any good? The government’s definition of what is “equal treatment” has been extended to absurdity, forbidding barbers from having male customers only or charging them less.

Ever since he was beaten up by some black kids as a kid, my now deceased uncle hated black people. He was a landlord and rented only to whites. After the Civil Rights Act passed, he was forced to rent to blacks. This made him even more embittered and it seemed harder to change his mind. He never repented. Since the Bible teaches that he who hates his brother is a murderer, and that murderers will be tormented in hell forever, it seems unlikely to me that my uncle will escape this judgment.

*Section 1 of the 14th amendment prohibits a state from “deny[ing] to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.” This would, I suppose, prohibit states from passing laws which would deny blacks from being able to go to a certain school, drink from a certain drinking fountain, or getting a certain job. (Even though it was dumb, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be allowed to have “separate but equal” accommodations under this language.) Section 5 would give Congress the right to enforce “equal protection” against the states. Even though I agree with the “equal protection” principle (and I oppose the “separate but equal position”), I don’t believe that Congress should be given the authority to enforce it on the states in this way (to see a better way click here), and I don’t believe that 14th amendment was properly ratified. Also keep in mind that the original constitution prohibited both the states and the Congress from passing bills of attainder, i.e., laws which punish a a certain person or certain group of people.


  1. So you are saying that If I bought a piece of property right next to your house and decided to build a rock crushing plant or a meat rendering plant, I would be within my rights even though a rock crushing plant could devalue your property in the eyes of potential buyers.

  2. Yes, you would as long as you are not physically damaging my property or violating any previous voluntary agreements. Legal contracts can protect people from these things. These issues should be handled by local governments, not Washington bureaucrats.

  3. So, Matt, federal government workers are "Washington bureaucrats" but local governments employ no "bureaucrats"? Why is it only Washington has "bureaucrats"?

    If "bureaucrat" is a term that ONLY and ALWAYS applies to all federal workers, then why do we need it? Why not simply say "government workers"? Isn't it meaningless, except as rhetoric? Does your argument here rest on such rhetorical tricks?

  4. I am not saying that local governments are not susceptible to corruption. But the higher the level of government, the more people that level of government has power over. Lord Acton's statement rings true:

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    This was the genius of the Federalist system and the Ten Amendment. The lower levels of government would actually have more power and a stable system of checks and balances was achieved. But the mistreatment of blacks ruined the whole thing. At that point in history, you either had to allow blacks to be mistreated or you had to take away the freedom of the South to make their own laws. Either way you don't really have freedom. This why the Founding Fathers taught that it could only work if the People were religious and virtuous.