Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently came together to introduce legislation that would reform the criminal justice system to allow non-violent offenders a chance to resume a normal life after incarceration. The REDEEM Act would reform current laws to seal the records of nonviolent juvenile and low-level offenders to allow for them to transition to gainful employment without carrying the burden of a criminal record.
Paul and Booker went on the MSNBC program “The Cycle” to discuss the problems with the criminal justice system and providing examples of how current laws impede the efforts of a nonviolent convict trying to lead a better life.
Later on in the program, host Ari Melber spoke about Paul “evolving” on his position on the Civil Rights Act, a topic Paul had discussed with Rachel Maddow in 2010. Melber shifted the conversation to that discussion between Paul and Maddow: “As we’re talking about restoring civil rights here, you stirred up a lot of controversy with the 2010 comments.”
“Me? Controversy?” Paul replied.
“You said at the time that you had concerns about the rules for private business while you support most of the Civil Rights Act. Why did you evolve on rules for private business?” Melber asked Paul.
Paul clarified the discussion with Maddow by saying, “What I would say to be fair to myself, because I like to be fair to myself, is that I’ve always been in favor of the Civil Rights Act. People need to get over themselves writing all this stuff that I’ve changed my mind on the Civil Rights Act.”
Paul continued, “Have I ever had a philosophical discussion about all aspects of it? Yeah, and I’ve learned my lesson: to come onto MSNBC and have a philosophical discussion- the liberals will come out of the woodwork and go crazy and say you’re against the Civil Rights Act and you’re some terrible racist. And I take great objection to that, because in Congress I think there is nobody else trying harder to get people back their voting rights, to get people back and make the criminal justice system fair. So I take great offense to people who want to portray me as something that I’m not,” said Paul.
Melber used the term “evolve” once more to ask Paul, “But when you said well- here’s where the rules for private businesses are concerning- why not explain that you’ve evolved on that?”
“I’m not willing to engage with people who are misrepresenting my viewpoint on this,” replied Paul, who pointed out that he’s been previously accused by people at MSNBC of being opposed to the Civil rights Act because of his discussion with Maddow.
After Melber said that an honest discussion might include talking about different parts of the Act, Paul interrupted: “The honest discussion of it would be that I never was opposed to the Civil Rights Act and when your network does 24-hour news telling the truth, then maybe we can get somewhere with the discussion.”