Rand Paul would've been against open housing in '66

Tea Party nativist and socialized medicine recipient Rand Paul has had a bad media week.  After Paul claimed that the government doesn’t have the right to ban discriminatory policies in private businesses, he caught a lot of heat from people who, you know, think the Civil Rights Act was a good thing.  Paul seems to want to put this episode behind him as he’s now saying the Civil Rights Act is settled and he has no desire to repeal it, which, again, seems like an extraordinarily low bar to set for our politicians.  But the issue got a bit more complicated yesterday after Dave Weigel posted parts of a letter Paul wrote to his hometown newspaper arguing against the Fair Housing Act.  It makes Paul look, um, like he would’ve been on the wrong side of history.

Here’s an excerpt from Paul’s letter to the paper:

The Daily News ignores, as does the Fair Housing Act, the distinction between private and public property. Should it be prohibited for public, taxpayer-financed institutions such as schools to reject someone based on an individual’s beliefs or attributes? Most certainly. Should it be prohibited for private entities such as a church, bed and breakfast or retirement neighborhood that doesn’t want noisy children? Absolutely not. [emphasis added.]

And here are a few bullet points from Kentucky’s Fair Housing Laws:

Kentucky’s Fair Housing Law forbids discrimination in housing because of a person’s color, religion, race, sex, national origin, familial status or disability. It is unlawful for a real estate operator, broker, or sales agent to:

  • refuse to sell, rent, lease or exchange real property for discriminatory reasons
  • refuse to receive or transmit good faith offers to purchase or rent
  • deny any services or facilities relating to real property transactions
  • represent that real property is not available for inspection, sale or rental when in fact it is
  • retain a listing with the understanding that the seller plans to discriminate
    discriminate in the terms or conditions of sale or rental

Pretty radical stuff.  And, for those familiar with Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland, opposition to open housing laws is nothing new.  As Perlstein wrote back in 2008:

That reaction [voting out LBJ’s ’64 Liberal freshman in ’66], I hope I demonstrate effectively in NIXONLAND, rested on two pillars: terror at the wave of urban rioting that began in the Watts district of Los Angeles; and terror at the prospect of the 1966 civil rights bill passing, which, by imposing an ironclad federal ban on racial discrimination in the sale and rental of housing—known as “open housing”—would be the first legislation to impact the entire nation equally, not just the South. [emphasis added.]

Resistance to open housing laws was despicable in the 60s and its despicable today.  Perlstein’s research into the letters that whites wrote opposing open housing — a discriminatory practice that, in Paul’s words, is “the hard part about freedom” — is a real eye opener.  Go here to read more, but here are a few of these awful letters.

Do you or any of your friends live next door to a negro–why should we have them pushed down our throats?


As a citzen and a taxpayer I was very upset to hear about ‘TITLE IV’ of the so-called civil rights Bill S. 3296. This is not Civil Rights. This takes away a person’s rights. We too are people and need someone to protect us.
We designed and built our own home and I would hate too think of being forced to sell my lovely home to anyone just because they had the money.


At least fifty square of Chiago is occupied by negroes which means that no part of that area is safe for white people to travel…
It is safe to say that not a single white person has ever moved into a negro neighorhood yet there has been over a million white people dumped, shoved, or pushed out of their homes by expansion of negroes….

This is the tradition with which Paul is associating himself.  Denying fair housing is a radical, regressive, reprehensible practice, and Paul should be understood as the defender of one of the worst policies of the second half of the 20th century.

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3 Responses to Rand Paul would've been against open housing in '66

  1. mitsilincoln says:

    For accuracy’s sake, Rand Paul is probably legitimately not racist, but just simply believes all his libertarian silliness. Unfortunately ‘libertarian silliness’ has real-world consequences when we don’t actually live in some fantasy Ayn Rand novel in his head.

    • Hello mitsilincoln,

      Mr. Paul panders to racists and that makes him a racist. That he has no ill-will toward Black people is entirely beside the point. Racism is about what people do, not what they feel in their hearts. To say “I do not support discrimination but I do not want the Federal government to do anything to stop it” is racist because it supports racism. One might as well say “I am against arson but I don’t want the police department to arrest arsonists or the fire department to fight fires caused by arsonists”.

    • jcalton says:

      Randal Paul is NOT a libertarian. He’s a Christian conservative who likes guns and capitalism.
      He will not allow a private hospital to meet the market demand for abortions.
      Or a woman to choose to have them, even when they are raped.
      He believes in closed borders. Specifically with electric fences.
      He wants the government to certify marriages.
      And deny homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals.
      His list of non-violent crimes that should not be criminalized does not include prostitution…considered to be one of the oldest market forces on Earth.
      Nor does he advocate for drug legalization.

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