Why would Rand Paul say that?

I really want to like Rand Paul, but he keeps saying things that give me pause.  I like that he wants to fight the GOP establishment.  I like that he wants to roll back big government.  And I like that he wants to expand the base to include more young people and minorities.  (There are some very worrisome things he’s said about foreign policy, but we’ll put that aside, as those views seem to be “evolving.”)

I didn’t listen to his Louisville campaign announcement speech yesterday, but Paul Mirengoff of Powerline did, and he noticed something that has really got me worried:

In his speech, Paul stated:

I see an America where criminal justice is applied equally and any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed.

As John [Hinderaker] points out, pretty much every criminal law disproportionately incarcerates African-Americans, from murder on down. Thus, Paul sees an America where, at most, only white collar offenses are against the law — in other words, an essentially lawless America.

Perhaps this is a bastardized version of “disparate impact” thinking – that practices that disproportionately impact minorities (for example, civil service examinations) are subject to strict scrutiny.  But does anyone think laws against murder don’t pass strict scrutiny?  Or rape?  Or armed robbery?  All of these laws disproportionately incarcerate blacks.  And that is not because the law discriminates in enforcement.

My guess is that Sen. Paul was thinking about drug laws, which he famously opposes.  But that isn’t what he said, in what Mirengoff points out is “ arguably the most important speech he has ever made.”  He thinks Paul will modify his rhetoric away from the notion that laws against murder should be repealed.  And he’s right.

But heck, Rand Paul is already selling official campaign flip-flops.

We can expect more of this modification of embarrassing rhetoric, leading to the inference that Rand Paul is not yet ready for prime time.

I really want to like Rand Paul, but he keeps saying things that give me pause.  I like that he wants to fight the GOP establishment.  I like that he wants to roll back big government.  And I like that he wants to expand the base to include more young people and minorities.  (There are some very worrisome things he’s said about foreign policy, but we’ll put that aside, as those views seem to be “evolving.”)

I didn’t listen to his Louisville campaign announcement speech yesterday, but Paul Mirengoff of Powerline did, and he noticed something that has really got me worried:

In his speech, Paul stated:

I see an America where criminal justice is applied equally and any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed.

As John [Hinderaker] points out, pretty much every criminal law disproportionately incarcerates African-Americans, from murder on down. Thus, Paul sees an America where, at most, only white collar offenses are against the law — in other words, an essentially lawless America.

Perhaps this is a bastardized version of “disparate impact” thinking – that practices that disproportionately impact minorities (for example, civil service examinations) are subject to strict scrutiny.  But does anyone think laws against murder don’t pass strict scrutiny?  Or rape?  Or armed robbery?  All of these laws disproportionately incarcerate blacks.  And that is not because the law discriminates in enforcement.

My guess is that Sen. Paul was thinking about drug laws, which he famously opposes.  But that isn’t what he said, in what Mirengoff points out is “ arguably the most important speech he has ever made.”  He thinks Paul will modify his rhetoric away from the notion that laws against murder should be repealed.  And he’s right.

But heck, Rand Paul is already selling official campaign flip-flops.

We can expect more of this modification of embarrassing rhetoric, leading to the inference that Rand Paul is not yet ready for prime time.