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Rand Paul and Robert Bork are soul mates

I’m having a flashback to the 1987 confirmation battle over Robert Bork. Not surprising, with a pending Supreme Court nomination, except my flashback has nothing to do with Elena Kagan. It’s about Rand Paul, the Republican Senate nominee from Kentucky, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Bork and Paul are ideological soul mates.

For those whose perspective on the rejected Bork nomination is that it was such a skewed pummeling that it led to the creation of a new verb -- Borking -- here’s a reminder. Writing in The New Republic in 1963 about the proposed civil rights act, Bork inveighed against a principle of "unsurpassed ugliness” -- not of racism, mind you, but of the notion of compelling private property owners to stop discriminating. Sound familiar? The next year, Bork lit into the proposed bans on discrimination in both employment and public accommodations, saying they would “compel association where it is not desired,” and citing “serious constitutional problems” with the measure.

Bork renounced those views publicly in 1973, during his nomination for solicitor general. Paul’s about-face took less than 24 hours. There is a coherent libertarian philosophy underlying the original views of both the Supreme Court nominee and the Senate candidate: that government should keep its nose out of private matters, that the federal government is one of extraordinarily limited powers, that maximizing individual freedom is the greatest good. That Bork took this principle to the extreme he did in 1963 is bad enough -- back then, Bork had plenty of company. That Paul seems to hew to these views in 2010 is as disturbing as it is amazing.

By Ruth Marcus  | May 21, 2010; 8:02 AM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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Ruth, Our President is sounding more and more like his pastor, Reverend Wright. Please comment for us.

Posted by: MikeMcLamara | May 21, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

"Disturbing as it is amazing" why, exactly?

The overgrown, debt-laden federal government that we have today originated in the opposite thinking; a belief that all injustices can be righted from 50,000 feet with federal legislation and spending.

Free speech advocates argue that we must tolerate Nazi marches and other cartoonish realities of political life, in order to protect a greater good.

So, why cannot the same argument be made for property rights? There is nothing more inherently "racist" in these arguments than there would be "Nazi-ish" tendencies in arguing for unfettered public speech.

Posted by: PoliticiansAreWacky | May 21, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Ever since the Supreme Court's Kelo ruling where the 4 liberals + Kennedy allowed private property to be seized by the city and given to another private entity, Rand's hardcore take on private property rights is refreshing.

Posted by: millionea81 | May 21, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I find this discussion odd. Rand Paul is simply reflecting the views of the John Birch Society. Nothing unusual about that, unless you think the whole "Tea Party" thing isn't the JBS back in a new form.

Wait till they start talking about "The Insiders", the Christian nation, the Anti-Socialists (ever wonder where that whole Obama=Socialist thing came from?), and of course those UN Helicopters that will follow the dots on the backs of road signs as they take over the US for the New World Order.

Just give it a bit of time.


Posted by: cz_man | May 21, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Milliona81: The Kelo result is exactly what a states-rightser libertarian would want. The Supremes upheld the right of a local government to take private property for a public purpose, as determined by the local government. For the Supremes to have overruled would have been an attack on states rights. This is the problem with Teabaggers - and lots of others out there. At least take responsibility for the natural results that flow from what you advocate. The Bill of Rights either applies to state actions, or it doesn't. You guys are arguing that everything -- slavery, abortion, mining regulations, offshore drilling -- ought to be left to the states. Except for national defense. I guess.

Posted by: obamasnoosama | May 21, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Someone needs to ask the next question..given his liberatarian position, how does he feel about teh mining regulations. It is Kentucky and the feds stepped in on that. Does he feel that they should go back to the way things were in the mining industry. How about the wage & hour laws? Should that not also be regulated by the feds. Yes, they all cry, get the feds out of here....until...look at La. now begging for fed help b/c of the oil spill. Hmmmm wasn' the gov opposse to fed $$$$.

Posted by: Trichica | May 21, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Having grown up during this period it was a scarry prospect to turn toward a more conservative view but it was a scarrier prospect to leave to the whim of the political winds. The underlying issue is unelected power being excercised by the courts making law. I strongly approve of every advance made during the Civil Rights Era and would equally strongly oppose any retreat but also believe you have to turn back to the constitution. Change is through the amendment process and a temporary expedient by the courts should not be thought of as an open invitation to subsume the constitution. The mechanism to defeat this very easy problem is to require non-descrimination as part of business licenses in each and every local tie this to a national policy of not providing any federal funds to any state that does not universally follow these restrictions and the problem is solved. Burning the constitution is the extreme measure.

Posted by: almorganiv | May 21, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"as disturbing as it is amazing"

And hypocritical, don't forget hypocritical. Mister Small Government wants Medicare payments to not only continue, he wants them increased.

I'm sure that's the principled Looneytarian stand and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that half of his patients are on Medicare.

Posted by: diesoonwapodiesoon | May 21, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

and now Ms Marcus offers liberals an opportunity to show just exactly how incapable of thought they are.

How do liberals live with themselves when the oppose this:
"There is a coherent libertarian philosophy underlying the original views of both the Supreme Court nominee and the Senate candidate: that government should keep its nose out of private matters, that the federal government is one of extraordinarily limited powers, that maximizing individual freedom is the greatest good"

Tell me, Ms Marcus, just exactly what is so bad about that coherent libertarian philosophy?

and it is interesting to note that the american left, as usual, wants it both ways. When they oppose something being done by Americans, such as a nativity scene on a town square, the ACLU takes the position that the potential social good of such things matter not. All that matters is the constitutionality of the behavior.

That is exactly what Rand Paul is saying. Yes, desegration was important, but where was the ACLU to proclaim the unconstitutionality of the Federal government's behavior?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | May 21, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

What next the government is going to force me to sleep with men because mentally I discriminate and choose women? Is the general handicapper going to break my ankles to keep me from running in marathons (for charity). Are they going to take away Rand Paul's awards for his humanitarian work that he's done for the poor, or scold him for leading by example. Why didn't the press get after Rev. Wright and his association with Obama. Last time I checked Rev. Wright thinks my grans is part of some crazy jew internationalist zionism banking conspiracy.

I look at my salt shaker in fear. I know in 2015, I won't be able to own one :(

Posted by: zappainfrance | May 21, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

> This is the problem with Teabaggers - and
> lots of others out there. At least take
> responsibility for the natural results
> that flow from what you advocate.

Most of them don't think far enough ahead to win a game of checkers, let alone to be influencing legislation.

They should study mob psychology (and I'm not talking about Lorraine Bracco) or at least read Lord of the Flies. Just because someone doesn't belong to your 'group' doesn't mean they're your enemy.

Posted by: Darr247 | May 21, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Scary stuff.
The Civil Rights Act is one of the single-greatest steps our country has taken to fulfilling the promise of the founding tenet, All Men Are Created Equal. Of course our society can have a nuanced understanding of property rights that limits discrimination in practice while allowing free speech, distinguishing behavior (no shirt, no shoes, no service) from identity.
The Tea Party pushes a one-sided idea of liberty that revolves around the issues that will benefit them. There is something essentially sane and rational about trying to find a balance between property rights and the right to individual freedoms, between regulation of dangerous business practices and the free market, between taxation and our desire to make as much money as we can. The Tea Party's claim to fame is that they will not be reduced to making these types of compromises but adhere to an absolutist vision that pretends that pushing for a selective set of economic freedoms will somehow increase freedom for all.

Posted by: minorthread | May 21, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Paul just came out complaining that BP should not be pressured on the latest spill. This is vintage Libertarianism - a desire to have the government withdraw from any involvement that affects anyone. I can't wait to hear him utter his views on Social Security & MediCare.

As for most of the posters who preceded me: you obviously did not read the article, nor do you understand what Paul stands for. It essentially amounts to a reversion to the days of child labor, no days off, no fringe (or is it French) benefits, etc.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | May 21, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

(this is an intentionally delayed post): Paul however does think that payments by MediCare to doctors should increase.

It is very interesting that a doctor who wants to shrink government, and control spending, and is actually opposed to MediCare and government involvement in Health Care, wants to increase government payments to doctors. Isn't it?

How do you spell hypocrite again? Is it along the lines of P-A-U-L or T-E-A-P-A-R-T-Y or ...?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | May 21, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I would urge everyone to understand the true debate here with this issue. The issue is between freedom and responsibility on one hand and the use of government force to compel correct behavior on the other. If you believe that the government has the right to compel correct behavior, then you see no problem with a whole host of government regulations that try to produce the "correct" type of citizen. Such as forcing people to make good choices with their health, (drug laws-health care reform), or personal choices, (discrimination laws-marriage laws).
However, if you believe in freedom and responsibility you believe that individuals can should have the freedom to choose to do what is "morally" correct, and use their freedom responsibly. However, there will be the people that will choose to do what is "immoral" and act irresponsible.

If you grant the government the power to compel "correct" behavior the end result is creating citizens that are dependent on the guidance of elites. Therefore we create a government that has a "nanny like" mentality, where it thinks that it constantly "knows best". The abuses that could and have occured with this have been told throughout history for thousands of years.

Posted by: antiwar100 | May 21, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Paul represents people (the TEA Bag Group or Money Grubbers) who in many instances have made their living on the backs of people with lesser education, social and economic growth, and simply want them to continue the growth for that sector of Society. Let’s face it If you follow his logic … the same way he dose not want the federal government to change the laws of civil rights is seen in the way he dose not want the EPA to tell BP (the TEA Bag Group or Money Grubbers) to stop polluting our wetlands and pristine beaches.

If a child breaks his mother fine china (play in the china cabinet) … according to Paul … the child did not break the dish and the parent should just accept the fact that an accident occurred. Furthermore, the parent (EPA) should not blame the child (BP) and not prevent the child from playing with the china. I would hate to live in the Paul house hold … let alone his house (the State of Kentucky).

The real warning should not be to Republicans … it should be to all Americans who believe in fairness and the growth of this country. He says he dose not want to repeal The Civil Rights Act (or the new Healthcare Reform Act) … He wants to go back to the Olden Days. Sound familiar … What did I do with those Chickens… People in Utah! We her Brother!

Posted by: jayMaryland | May 21, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

antiwar100 @ May 21, 2010 2:53 PM: Responsibility and freedom? I disagree. When individuals were left at the mercy of companies, there was no freedom on the workers' part, and no responsibility on the companies' part. There was merely an exercise in power. Fortunately, thanks to Unions (that dreaded concept by some) and regulations they forced government to impose, the raw power of companies has been somewhat in check. Libertarians (and other industry friendly politicians and SC justices) lament that. But for people (as in We The People ...) it has been a god-sent.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | May 21, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone going to ask Rand Paul if he accepts Medicare and Medicaid to perform eye procedures? If so, how much does he make from those evil federal programs? \

Why doesn't anyone EVER ask these people why they run for elective office if they don't believe government should do a blessed thing? They will never be a majority and never acomplish anything.

Is he like SC gov and former congressman Mark Sanford? Politics is the best paying job and the most perks for the least amount of work? Looks like that might be a motivating factor for a lot of the people in Washington.

Posted by: edismae | May 21, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

As these matters unfold, I am teaching a course on "Value for Money" in government. It seems to me that the goal of the "Tea Baggers" and their ilk, is to get the "Value" - all of it - right now. On the other hand they do not wish to accept the responsibility of paying the "Money" now, in the future, or ever! LIke the abuse of the environment - such as in the Gulf oilspill, it is clearly an unsustainable concept.

Posted by: solentary1 | May 21, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

cz_man is ninteen years too late with his "new world order" remark. "I remember as clear as day, when I was at my father-in-law's hospital bedside in February of 1991 while watching TV. Right after America won the 100 hour war over Iraq, President George Herbert Walker Bush shocked me when he gleefully said these words: and I quote: "Welcome to the New World Order" unquote.

Posted by: lanlysh55 | May 22, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

solentary1 - We can only imagine the false, Progressive conservative-bashing that goes on in your classroom - at taxpayer expense. You've basically admitted that you're part of the problem with misinformation and indoctrination in this country.

Posted by: joesmithdefend | May 23, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

We in Japan have our own Rand Paul. His name is Gregory Clark.

He is a former Australian diplomat now living in Japan, and he argues that discrimination is a right for Japanese people -- including the right to discriminate against ethnic minorities in housing. See and

Posted by: stevegsilver | May 23, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I bet that if he personally were barred from most restaurants and rest rooms that he would change his tune. I wonder if he has actually seriously thought about what that would be like.

Posted by: LMM1 | May 24, 2010 5:38 AM | Report abuse

Hey tea-baggers!! Forget Sarah Palin, now you REALLY have a fool to rally around: Rand Paul. By parsing the 1964 Civil Rights Act we can see what he and the tea-baggers stand for: discrimination based on race and physical ability. But then the tea-baggers are just a sad group of old, white, rich, malcontent republicans who hate blacks, hispanics, asians, the middle class and the poor and can't stand the fact that we have a black president. When they howl "TAKE BACK AMERICA!!!" they mean to take it back from the minorities. Luckily the middle class and the poor far outnumber the tea-baggers so they will have little effect in November and Rand Paul will fade away. Mark Montgomery NYC, NY 10036

Posted by: boboberg | May 25, 2010 1:49 AM | Report abuse

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