Bob Barr on Civil Rights

Libertarian nominee for President; Former Republican Representative (GA-7)


Gave speech to CCC, a segregationist group

Republican politicians who had given speeches to a conservative group, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), were branded sympathizers of white supremacists because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group, the Citizen Councils of America. There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation, though its "Statement of Principles" offers that the organization opposes "forced integration" and efforts to mix the races of mankind.

Rep. Bob Barr did nothing more than give a speech to the CCC, yet he was forever damned by association. After the initial flurry of articles, editorials, and news stories excitedly reported that Barr had spoken to the CCC, a resolution was introduced in Congress for the sole purpose of denouncing the Council of Conservative Citizens. Other than the 9/11 terrorists, the CCC may be the only group ever singled out for the denunciation in a congressional resolution

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p. 24-25 , Nov 10, 2009

I authored DOMA, but now it should be repealed

In 1996, I wrote the Defense of Marriage Act, better known by its shorthand acronym, DOMA. The law has been a flash-point for those arguing for or against same-sex marriage ever since President Clinton signed it into law. After careful consideration, I have come to agree that the law should be repealed.

The left now decries DOMA as the barrier to federal recognition and benefits for married gay couples. The right lambasts DOMA for subverting the political momentum for a constitutional amendment. In truth, the language of the legislation--like that of most federal laws--was a compromise. DOMA was indeed designed to thwart the then-nascent move in a few state courts and legislatures to afford partial or full recognition to same-sex couples.

I crafted the legislation so it wasn't a hammer the federal government could use to force states to recognize only unions between a man and a woman. Congress deliberately chose not to establish a single, nationwide definition of marriage.

Source: Los Angeles Times editorial by Bob Barr , Jan 5, 2009

Replace DOMA with state decisions on gay marriage

DOMA is not working out as planned. I have concluded that DOMA is neither meeting the principles of federalism it was supposed to, nor is its impact limited to federal law. In effect, DOMA's language reflects one-way federalism: It protects only those states that don't want to accept a same-sex marriage granted by another state.

In 2006, when then-Sen. Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he said, "Decisions about marriage should be left to the states." He was right then; and as I have come to realize, he is right now in concluding that DOMA has to go. If one truly believes in federalism and the primacy of state government over the federal, DOMA is simply incompatible with those notions.

Source: Los Angeles Times editorial by Bob Barr , Jan 5, 2009

Patriot Act erodes our civil liberties

You count on third-party candidates to bring up issues the major parties aren’t touching. Nader, Barr, and Baldwin did that--and agreed. All are against the war in Iraq and want our troops out (probably much faster than Obama would take them out). Barr, who regrets his 2002 vote for the Patriot Act, warned the Bush Administration had implemented a “tremendous unbridled growth of government power, and as a result, erosion of our civil liberties.” Nader agreed.
Source: 2008 third-party presidential debate, in Cleveland Magazine , Nov 2, 2008

Criticizes efforts to restrict rights of homosexuals

Libertarian Presidential nominee Bob Barr (L-GA) has focused most of his criticism during the first weeks of his campaign at John McCain (R-AZ), hoping to garner substantial support from conservative Republicans. Barr blasted McCain for his support of the Iraqi War, his energy policies and his stand of reducing government spending.

Despite his open appeal to conservatives, Barr’s recent renunciations of Republican backed legislation will limit his appeal among movement conservatives. Barr has changed his mind and now strongly opposes the war, condemns the Patriot Act as a violation of civil liberties, criticizes efforts to restrict rights of homosexuals, and even favors the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.

Source: Alternative Party News on www.dcpoliticalreport.com , Jun 17, 2008

Applying habeas in Guantanamo reaffirms fundamental liberty

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court made two critically important rulings. The first concluded that detainees in Guantanamo Bay could seek habeas corpus relief in federal court. The second stated that an American held by U.S. forces in Iraq was entitled to the protection of habeas corpus.

With these two decisions the Court “has reaffirmed one of the foundations of American liberties, the historic writ of habeas corpus--which requires the authorities to show cause for an arrest,” explains Bob Barr. The justices did not order anyone released, instead leaving that decision up to the trial judge after a full and fair hearing.

The decision “is as much a victory for the American people as it is for any particular litigant.” The right to habeas corpus is enshrined in the Constitution: “by allowing a defendant to seek relief in court, habeas corpus is one of the most important legal limits on government,” explains Barr.

Source: Press Release, “Supreme Court Affirms Fundamental Liberties” , Jun 13, 2008

Authored Defense of Marriage Act

Regardless of whether one supports or opposes same sex marriage, the decision to recognize such unions--or not--ought to be a power each state exercises on its own, rather than imposition of a one-size-fits-all mandate by the federal government (as would be required by a Federal Marriage Amendment which has been previously proposed and considered by the Congress). The decision today by the Supreme Court of California properly reflects this fundamental principle of federalism on which our nation was founded.

Indeed, the primary reason for which I authored the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 was to ensure that each state remained free to determine for its citizens the basis on which marriage would be recognized within its borders, and not be forced to adopt a definition of marriage contrary to its views by another state. The decision in California is an illustration of how this principle of states’ powers should work.

Source: Press Releases, “Same sex marriage decision” , May 15, 2008

Threats to liberty in post-9/11 world require libertarianism

Q: In 2003, Reason [a libertarian magazine] called you the “most conservative member of Congress.” How can you now lead the Libertarian party having once had that reputation?

A: I’ve had the opportunity over the last few years to work with the Libertarians. They’ve had a chance to get to know me. Of course, there are always going to be some naysayers, but the vast majority of Libertarians that I’ve worked with have come to understand my views and my commitment to the Libertarian Party and its principles. I also have explained many times to Libertarians that the post-9/11 world is a very different world from the one I served in Congress. The threats to our liberty in a post-9/11 world are dramatically greater than prior to that. The changes have really necessitated--in my case and I think in the eyes of a lot of Americans--a re-evaluation of where we stand on a whole range of issues regarding government power and have highlighted the need to start rolling those back with greater urgency.

Source: Daniel Stone in Newsweek magazine , May 13, 2008

The Nanny State is getting increasingly intrusive

An increasingly intrusive Nanny State is watching over our nation, meddling in the lives of its citizens. New measures, often rushed through legislatures and regulatory agencies with little consideration or thought, seek to control ever more aspects of people’s lives. Government limits individual actions and choices, from the way in which we educate our children to the food that we eat, from the type of light bulbs that illuminate our living rooms to the benefits that we receive for working. It is time to again trust individuals to make their own decisions. At the core of libertarianism is a trust in and respect for the personal choices of every individual. All Americans should be free to decide what is best for themselves and their families At the same time, they must bear personal responsibility for the consequences of the decisions that they make, whether those decisions prove to be good or bad.
Source: 2008 House campaign website, www.bobbarr2008.com, “Issues” , Apr 22, 2008

Took post with ACLU based on fundamental common interests

Q: A lot of people were surprised when you took a post with the ACLU, but you actually cooperated with them going back at least to the early Clinton years.

A: It started with the initial anti-terrorism bill in 1996. That probably was the first time tha we recognized specifically that we had some very fundamental common interests. We worked together after that on several other pieces of legislation, such as the asset forfeiture reform, and the national driver’s license. I had always known them to be a very consistent advocate for civil liberties, but we disagreed on so many issues that I never really sought them out in terms of an ally. But shortly after I came up to the Congress, we both realized that the size of government and the expansiveness of government power were creating a smaller sphere of personal liberty and personal privacy, and that we needed to find allies in this fight, and work together on those issues in which we agree, and agree to disagree on the other issues.

Source: Jesse Walker, in Reason Magazine, “right wing of the ACLU” , Dec 1, 2003

Voted YES on banning gay adoptions in DC.

Vote on an amendment banning adoptions in District of Columbia by gays or other individuals who are not related by blood or marriage.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Largent, R-OK; Bill HR 2587 ; vote number 1999-346 on Jul 29, 1999

Voted YES on ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions.

HR 6, the Higher Education Amendments Act of 1997, would prohibit any post-secondary institution that participates in any program under the Higher Education Act from discriminating or granting any preferential treatment in admission based on race, sex, ethnicity, color or national origin.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Riggs, R-CA.; Bill HR 6 ; vote number 1998-133 on May 6, 1998

Supports anti-flag desecration amendment.

Barr co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment:

Supports granting Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the U.S. flag. Proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HJR36 on Mar 13, 2001

Sponsored bill for "Privacy Impact Statement" on new rules.

Barr sponsored requiring "Privacy Impact Statement" on new federal rules

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT: It is clear that this bill's many cosponsors do not agree on every issue. The same can be said of the bill's noncongressional supporters, which include groups ranging from the National Rifle Association to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The sphere of privacy, which Justice Brandeis eloquently described as the ''right to be let alone,'' is not only rapidly diminishing, it is increasingly penetrable. The Federal Agency Protection of Privacy Act takes the first--necessary--step toward protecting the privacy of information collected by the federal government, by requiring that rules noticed for public comment by federal agencies be accompanied by an assessment of the rule's impact on personal privacy interests, including the extent to which the proposed rule provides notice of the collection of personally identifiable information, what information will be obtained, and how this informational will be collected, protected, maintained, used and disclosed.

I want to emphasize H.R. 4561 will not unduly burden regulators nor will it hinder law enforcement. This bill will apply the best antiseptic--sunshine--to the federal rulemaking process by securing the public's right to know about how rules will affect their personal privacy.


LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME: Passed House on a voice vote; sent to Senate on Oct. 8, 2002; never called to vote in Senate.

Source: Federal Agency Protection of Privacy Act (H.R.4561) 02-HR4561 on Apr 24, 2002

2016-17 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Civil Rights: Bob Barr on other issues:
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