Here's the problem with Rand Paul's statements over the Civil Rights Act. If he were truly a pure libertarian, they'd be defensible theoretical views, as you point out. But, as Time magazine notes:This is true. But I submit that this is what a pragmatic politician needs to do to be elected in Kentucky.
Paul has lately said he would not leave abortion to the states, he doesn't believe in legalizing drugs like marijuana and cocaine, he'd support federal drug laws, he'd vote to support Kentucky's coal interests and he'd be tough on national security.Paul is willing to bend the issue of pure personal freedom for drug laws, abortion, and even coal subsidies ... but he thinks telling a restaurant it cannot discriminate is a bridge too far? I still don't think he's racist, but what he chooses to be ideologically pure about certainly raises my eyebrow.
If he were able to hold more pure views, unbeholden to his constituency, I'm sure he would jump at the chance.
Opposition to this part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is a good lesson in the real meaning of freedom. In the same fashion that free speech means defending people who choose to say vile things, free association means defending people who choose to discriminate. Both are First Amendment 101, and hopefully a useful illustration of Rand's ideology that will be less politically perilous (in Kentucky) than it would be to instead stake out an unpopular position against all federal drug laws, abortion laws, or coal subsidies.