Speaking on the Steve Deace Show Tuesday, Institute on the Constitution Director and League of the South Board member Michael Peroutka criticized the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which adds sexual orientation to existing civil rights protections. However, his criticism did not end there. He added at 30:22 into the first hour:
The civil government has no authority to tell any private employer what kind of employees to hire and fire, or what constitutes discrimination. And obviously, I do mean and I would include the so-called civil rights laws are not law, they never should’ve been passed, they’re not law now, they weren’t law then, they aren’t law now because there is no such thing as a civil right.
Despite Peroutka’s past efforts to wrap himself with the legacy of Martin Luther King, here Peroutka’s views of King’s work and discrimination more broadly come through. Peroutka has gone so far as to claim that King did not seek civil rights. However, King clearly rejected Barry Goldwater’s view of the Civil Rights Act which is a position quite similar to the one Peroutka espoused on the Deace program. Peroutka’s views expressed on this radio show are consistent with an article on his website which justifies discrimination based on race, religion and/or nationality.
One might dismiss Peroutka as without much influence, however, to me, this would be shortsighted. Peroutka’s organization Institute on the Constitution continues to make inroads in the tea party and religious right. Furthermore, Steve Deace, while far to the right in relation to the rest of the nation, seems to be mainstream in Iowa. It is alarming and disappointing to hear a voice of the right wing of the GOP in IA lament the passage of civil rights laws which protect the civil rights of all Americans.