Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., appears at a House Foreign Affairs Committee, Feb. 26, 2014.
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Rep. questions constitutionality of Civil Rights Act at town hall

Rep. Ted Yoho questioned the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act during a town hall style event Monday evening in Gainesville, Fla.

Responding to a constituent who asked Yoho directly whether or not he believed that “any part” of the Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Johnson 50 years ago, is constitutional, the congressman appeared to waffle on whether or not the law was entirely constitutional. 

“This country grew through a lot of growing pain. We’re going through it again,” Yoho said in his response, captured on camera by ThinkProgress. “As we grow as a country and prosper, we’re going to go through it again in the future. That’s why I’m so thankful for the Constitution because it allows us to do that. Is it constitutional, the Civil Rights Act? I wish I could answer that 100 percent.”

“I know a lot of things that were passed are not constitutional, but I know it’s the law of the land,” he added. The video as posted has been edited, showing part of the initial question, and appearing to cut off Yoho’s full response at the end. 

When contacted for comment, Yoho issued the following statement reiterating his support for the Civil Rights Act:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the most significant, and constitutional, pieces of legislation in the past 100 years. After going through the constitutional process of being passed by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court, it is the law of the land. Our country is better off and stronger because of Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a legislator, I am focused on current and future legislation that will help improve the economy and get all Americans back to work. Limiting the government’s role in our personal lives and increasing job opportunities are the best ways to ensure liberty, freedom, and opportunity for All, regardless of race, religion, or gender.

Yoho, a freshman Tea Party congressman, has not shied away from discussing race issues and civil rights since his election in 2012, although most of his comments have come in connection to the Affordable Care Act.

In September 2013 he invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy as he defended conservative Republican efforts to defund the health reform law.

“It only takes one with passion — look at Rosa Parks, Lech Walesa, Martin Luther King,” he said, according to the New York Times. “People with passion that speak up, they’ll have people follow them because they believe the same way, and smart leadership listens to that.”

At an August 2013 town hall he joked that Obamacare was “racist” because it taxed those with fairer complexions more than those with darker complexions.