The left libertarian perspective: Rand Paul is a vulgar-/right- libertarian-conservative politician who (as any libertarian) isn't comfortable with the Civil Rights Act's preemption of private business, but needs to make up some sort of plausible-sounding bullshit so as to not get destroyed in the general election. It's politics, and his position is incoherent because it's supposed to be.
If you want a left-libertarian response to the Civil Rights Act, try some actual left-libertarians, not politicians. Sheldon Richman, for instance, says this:
It was only government power that created and sustained the institutions of slavery and Jim Crow, um, LAWS. They were preemptions of the free market, so how could it have abolished them?And this:
Why is it not enough to oppose racial discrimination and support peaceful social movements against it? Why must one also endorse using government force against what is, after all, nonviolent behavior? (Not all loathsome behavior is violent.) Is endorsement of State force necessary to show one's bona fides as a humane person? If so, that is very strange, indeed.Or David Henderson (seems left-ish libertarian):
The Civil Rights Act of 1964--and its companion laws, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965--were designed to address abuses of state and local government power. The Jim Crow laws that sprang up in the South after Reconstruction and prevailed for nearly a century were not merely the result of voluntary association. Discrimination--public and private--was enforced by police power and often by violence.Henderson again:
The fact of the matter is that this country moved from segregation required by law to segregation forbidden by law without trying freedom of association for a millisecond.Followed, in the same post, by a long quote from Milton Friedman:
Is there any difference in principle between the taste that leads a householder to prefer an attractive servant to an ugly one and the taste that leads another to prefer a Negro to a white or a white to a Negro, except that we sympathize and agree with the one taste and may not agree with the other? I do not mean to say that all tastes are equally good. On the contrary, I believe strongly that the color of a man's skin or the religion of his parents is, by itself, no reason to treat him differently; that a man should be judged by what he is and what he does and not by these external characteristics. I deplore what seem to me the prejudice and narrowness of outlook of those whose tastes differ from mine in this respect and I think less of them for it. But in a society based on free discussion, the appropriate recourse is for me to seek to persuade them that their tastes are bad and that they should change their views and their behavior, not to use coercive power to enforce my tastes and my attitudes on others.
Or Roderick Long:
All the same, what Paul should have done is to argue that voluntary efforts at fighting discrimination are more effective than governmental efforts.
But to do that, Paul would have had to talk about a) the indirect (not just the direct) discriminatory effects of government policies, and b) the nonviolent means of fighting discrimination. (And I’m not even talking about the possibility of raising Rothbardian doubts about the legitimate property titles of the segregated businesses of the south. Baby steps, etc.) But he said nothing about either (a) or (b), and I suspect hasn’t thought much about them.