Richard Epstein: What Rand Paul Should Have Said


Writing at Forbes, libertarian law professor (and Reason contributor) Richard Epstein weighs in on Rand Paul's controversial remarks about the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

Does the libertarian affection for private property and freedom of contract mean that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was wrong to deny the white owner of a luncheonette the right to exclude a black customer from his premises solely on the ground of race?

Paul answered yes, based on a rote application of the Randian approach. The correct answer to that question was no, for reasons that place normative libertarian theory in its proper social and historical context, to which Paul was blind. That context of course is Jim Crow segregation that dominated the South and also exerted its baleful influence in the North. State-imposed segregation is the antithesis of what every libertarian theory requires, by imposing legal barriers that make it virtually impossible for individuals to enter freely into voluntary transitions with trading partners of their own choice, white or black.

Read the rest here. Read Reason's coverage of Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act here.