Remember Lilly Ledbetter? She's the woman who was discriminated against by her employer by being underpaid for years and years. President Obama's first legislative act was to sign the bill making sure that people who faced the same situation she had could sue to get redress.

In Rand Paul's America, what happened to Lilly Ledbetter would be perfectly legal. After all, the employer should be free to discriminate.

And that's what this whole uproar is missing. The Civil Rights Act was not just about where people eat and didn't just cover people of color. Yes, barring black people from restaurants was an awful practice. But the Civil Rights Act covered a lot more than that.

And the Civil Rights Act included many actions taken by individuals and private organizations. Contra Rand Paul, it wasn't almost completely about what government does.

It included:

And what was covered?
National Origin
Association with another individual of a particular race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

So, in Rand Paul's America, a landlord would have the legal right to only rent to white people or to evangelicals.

In Rand Paul's America, an employer could refuse to hire women or could pay them less than men.

In Rand Paul's America, a hotel owner could turn away people whose last names revealed or implied some particular national background.

In Rand Paul's America, a restaurant owner could refuse to serve Jews.

In Rand Paul's America, overtly racist activities would be allowable under the law.  While some of these thing happen now, their illegality makes it clear that we, as a  society, find them unacceptable.  People may be dissuaded from doing them because they fear penalties or can end up with expensive lawsuits.

I don't care if Rand Paul has racism in his heart. What I care about is the America that would result if his views were enshrined in our laws and policies.

The Civil Rights Act will not be overturned. Of that, I am sure and Paul has said he would not seek its removal. But there are many other laws to come and, if he were elected, we know where he would stand on attempts to remove the stain of discrimination from our land.

Let's do what we can to keep this man out of office.

Originally posted to maineiac on Thu May 20, 2010 at 11:22 AM PDT.

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