Yesterday, in announcing his run for the presidency, Rand Paul demonstrated his unfitness for the office by calling for the repeal of any law that “disproportionately incarcerates people of color.” In effect, as John and I pointed out, Paul thereby called for the repeal of virtually every criminal law.
Paul’s team has now “clarified” his statement. The campaign told Byron York that the Senator’s words were misunderstood:
“Sen. Paul was referring to nonviolent crimes,” campaign spokeswoman Eleanor May told me via email, adding that the passage in question was “a reference to his criminal justice reforms.”
But Paul said he wanted to repeal “any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color,” (emphasis added) not just laws pertaining to nonviolent crimes. He may have misspoken, but his words weren’t misunderstood.
Attempting to support her assertion, Paul’s spokeswoman sent Byron brief descriptions of five bills Paul is sponsoring that deal with the criminal justice system and relate to non-violent crimes. None pertains to repealing criminal laws. Thus, they do not shed light on the scope of Paul’s call for repealing all criminal laws that disproportionately affect “people of color.” It’s difficult to see how Paul could have had these bills in mind when he called for repealing criminal laws.
It’s not far-fetched, though, to believe that Paul doesn’t want to repeal laws against murder and rape, for example — a position that would put him to the left of Al Sharpton. More likely, the Senator chose his words incredibly poorly, which hardly recommends him to be the GOP standard bearer in 2016.
Even with the clarification, Paul’s position remains inane and dangerous. Why should non-violent acts that now constitute crimes be legalized just because a particular group doesn’t obey the current prohibition? No criminal law should be subject, in effect, to a “criminals of color veto.”
Paul seems to believe that non-violent crimes are no big deal. This is rubbish.
The line between violent and non-violent crimes is not totally clear. However, non-violent crimes are generally thought to include:
Manufacturing or selling heroin
Driving without a licence or with a suspended license
Driving under the influence of alcohol
Reckless driving and driving after the police signals you to stop
Second and third degree burglary
Credit theft and illegal use of credit cards
Enticing a minor or using one in an obscene performance
Possessing an unauthorized weapon on school property
Overstaying a visa or otherwise being in the U.S. illegally
I see no basis for repealing any of these prohibitions. But if there’s a case to be made, it shouldn’t be based on race.
Even with his backpedaling, Rand Paul is calling for a race-based criminal justice code. This should disqualify him from the GOP nomination.