So Ron Paul says he wouldn't have voted for the Civil Rights Act. I will sidestep the tedious argument about whether Ron Paul is racist by pointing out that in a free society, important principles often conflict, and that important principles can lead one to support policies even if they have bad outcomes on some other dimension. It is left as an exercise for the reader to determine whether Ron Paul would have opposed the Civil Rights Act because he's a racist, or because he thinks freedom of contract is very, very important.
But for a different outcome in The Slaughterhouse Cases and The Civil Rights Cases, the entire system of mandated racial segregation known as Jim Crow would have been under direct legal assault at the time of it's birth.Which leads me to contemplate the counterfactual: what if we'd passed the Civil Rights Act without Title II and Title VII?
It's also worth noting that Plessy v. Ferguson involved a Louisiana law that was designed to prevent the Pullman Company from offering equal seating options to blacks. That, in fact, was the entire purpose of Jim Crow laws. Even if, for example, the Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina had wanted to serve the four black college students who sat down at their lunch counter on February 1, 1960, the laws in place at the time told them that they couldn't. Racial segregation in the South wasn't a product of the free market, it was the product of a state imposing racial prejudices under the threat of criminal prosecution. For that reason alone, it was a violation of the 14th Amendment and the Federal Government was entirely justified in trying to bring it down.
Now, none of this means that racism didn't exist in the South. Obviously it did, otherwise Jim Crow never would have been imposed in the first place. However, by passing these laws it's fairly clear what that the intent of the Southern legislatures was to prevent the newly freed blacks from participating in the economic life of the South by denying them access to jobs, business opportunities, and trade while at the same time denying them access to the polls so that they wouldn't be able to have their voice heard at the state capital. At the same time, it prevented other whites, as well as businesses from other parts of the country, from any efforts to break down the walls of segregation.
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