The Republican-led Kentucky Senate approved a sharply worded resolution Friday that was aimed at rebuking Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul's recent questioning of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Senate Resolution 31, filed by Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, and co-sponsored by all but one of his Republican and Democratic colleagues, expressed the Senate's support for the Civil Rights Act and criticized as "outside the mainstream of American values" those who oppose any part of the law.
"Suggestions have appeared recently that we retreat from the core values of the protection of equal rights of the citizens of the United States," says Senate Resolution 31.
Only an "extreme minority of persons in the United States" would support such a move, it says.
The Senate adopted the resolution, which did not name Paul, on a voice vote. Only one senator, Gary Tapp, R-Shelbyville, did not sign onto the resolution, but he did not attend last week's special legislative session.
Senate President David Williams, the top Republican in Frankfort, said he agreed with the resolution's language but did not view it as a jab at Paul or a political statement on the U.S. Senate race.
"There's not very much in this resolution that anyone could disagree with," Williams said Tuesday.
Paul's campaign chairman, David Adams, said Tuesday he was aware of the Senate's resolution but declined to comment on it.
The resolution was aimed squarely at Paul and his recent questioning of a provision in the Civil Rights Act that prevents private businesses from discriminating based on race, Neal said Tuesday.
In interviews with national media outlets, Paul has cited this part of the law as an example of the government overreaching.
"Here is an individual from Kentucky speaking nationally on a fundamental value, a fundamental right enshrined in our laws, and there had been no official response on behalf of Kentucky," Neal said. "I felt it was important for our institution to say that not everybody here agrees with the ideological positions put forward by Mr. Rand Paul."
Neal said he filed his resolution last Wednesday under a procedure that listed all senators present as co-sponsors unless they objected. Nobody objected over the next two days, he said.
"Senate leadership clearly knew what was going on; they were paying attention," Neal said. "I talked to the majority floor leader. There was no opposition."
Williams said Paul stressed to him in recent conversations that he is not a racist and would not vote to repeal any part of the Civil Rights Act if elected to the Senate. Paul was merely expressing his philosophical viewpoint about private property rights and the proper role of government, Williams said.
"He just needs to not take hypothetical questions" from the media, Williams said.