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Political positions of Ron Paul

The political positions of Ron Paul (R-TX), United States presidential candidate, have been labeled conservative, Constitutionalist, and libertarian. Ron Paul's nickname "Dr. No" reflects both his medical degree and the insistence that he will "never vote for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution." This position has frequently resulted in Paul casting the sole "no" vote against proposed legislation.

Foreign policy


Paul's foreign policy is one of nonintervention, which avoids war of aggression and entangling alliances with other nations, in the style of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison.

Paul advocates bringing troops home from U.S. military bases in Korea, Japan, and Europe, among others. He also often proposes that the U.S. stop sending massive, unaccountable foreign aid. The National Journal labeled Paul's overall foreign policies in 2006 as more conservative than 20% of the House and more liberal than 77% of the House (28% and 72%, respectively, in 2005).

In an October 11, 2007 interview with The Washington Post, Paul said, "There's nobody in this world that could possibly attack us today... I mean, we could defend this country with a few good submarines. If anybody dared touch us we could wipe any country off of the face of the earth within hours. And here we are, so intimidated and so insecure and we're acting like such bullies that we have to attack third-world nations that have no military and have no weapon."


Paul is the only 2008 Republican presidential candidate to have objected to and voted against the Iraq War Resolution, and continues to oppose U.S. presence in Iraq, charging the government with using the War on Terror to curtail civil liberties. He believes a just declaration of war after the September 11, 2001, attacks should have been directed against the actual terrorists, Al-Qaeda, rather than against Iraq, which has not been linked to the attacks. In 2003, Paul said that when America seeks war, it must be sought only to protect citizens, it must be declared by the U.S. Congress, and it must be concluded when the victory is complete as previously planned, which would allow all resources to be dedicated to victory; he added, "The American public deserves clear goals and a definite exit strategy in Iraq. However, the original authorization to invade Iraq (Public Law 107-243), passed in late 2002, authorized the president to use military force against Iraq to achieve only the following two specific objectives: "(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq. Accordingly, Paul introduced legislation to add a sunset clause to the original authorization.

During the 2003 invasion, he found himself "annoyed by the evangelicals' being so supportive of pre-emptive war, which seems to contradict everything that I was taught as a Christian." Paul's consistent opposition to the war expanded his conservative and libertarian Republican support base to include liberal Democrats. Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly criticized Paul's stance on the issue when Paul appeared on The O'Reilly Factor by claiming Paul "dodged the question" about what he would do to stop Iran from filling the potential power vacuum that could result from an American withdrawal.


Paul rejects the "dangerous military confrontation approaching with Iran and supported by many in leadership on both sides of the aisle. He claims the current circumstances with Iran mirror those under which the Iraq War began, and has urged Congress not to authorize war with Iran. In the U.S. House of Representatives, only Paul and Dennis Kucinich voted against the Rothman-Kirk Resolution, which asks the United Nations to charge Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with violating its genocide convention and charter.


In his speech before the House on a related bill, H. Con. Res. 467, Paul rejected the proposal for "[urging] the Administration to seriously consider multilateral or even unilateral intervention to stop genocide in Darfur should the UN Security Council fail to act." Paul argued the unrelatedness of the proposal to "the US national interest" or "the Constitutional function of [United States] military forces". The resolution passed unanimously, with Paul among 12 non-voters.

Paul was the only "no" vote on , the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007 (passed House 418-1-13, awaiting action in the Senate), which would "require the identification of companies that conduct business operations in Sudan [and] prohibit United States Government contracts with such companies. Among the bill's findings were Colin Powell's Senate testimony that the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias it supported were responsible for genocide, and the observation that many Americans inadvertently invest in foreign companies which disproportionately benefit the Sudanese regime in Khartoum. Paul cited the past ineffectiveness of sanctions against Cuba and Iraq as evidence against divestment from businesses connected to the Sudanese government. Proponents of Sudanese divestment legislation cite recent advertisement campaigns by the Sudanese government, and the complete withdrawal of large suppliers such as CHC Helicopter Corporation, Rolls Royce, and ABB, as evidence of the effectiveness of Sudanese divestment.


In 2000, Paul voted to end trade restrictions on Cuba.

International organizations

Paul advocates withdrawing U.S. participation and funding from organizations he believes override American sovereignty, such as the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the Law of the Sea Treaty, the WTO, NATO, and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.

International trade

Paul is a proponent of free trade and rejects protectionism, advocating "conducting open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations". He opposes many free trade agreements (FTA's), like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), stating that "free-trade agreements are really managed trade and serve special interests and big business, not citizens.

He voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), holding that it increased the size of government, eroded U.S. sovereignty, and was unconstitutional. He has also voted against the Australia–U.S. FTA, the U.S.–Singapore FTA, and the U.S.–Chile FTA, and voted to withdraw from the WTO. He believes that "fast track" powers, given by Congress to the President to devise and negotiate FTA's on the country's behalf, are unconstitutional, and that Congress, rather than the executive branch, should construct FTA's.

Paul also has an 83% voting record in favor of free trade in the House of Representatives, according to Global Trade Watch.

Borders and immigration

Paul considers it a "boondoggle" for the U.S. to spend much money policing other countries' borders (such as the IraqSyria border) while leaving its own borders porous and unpatrolled; he argues the U.S.–Mexico border can be crossed by anyone, including potential terrorists. During the Cold War, he supported Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, intended to replace the "strategic offense" doctrine of mutual assured destruction with strategic defense.

Paul's immigration positions sometimes differ with libertarian think tanks and the official platform of the U.S. Libertarian Party. He believes illegal aliens take a toll on welfare and Social Security and would end such benefits, concerned that uncontrolled immigration makes the U.S. a magnet for illegal immigrants, increases welfare payments, and exacerbates the strain on an already highly unbalanced federal budget. Paul's Congressional voting record earned a lifetime grade of B and a recent grade of B+ from Americans for Better Immigration.

Paul believes that immigrants should not be given an "unfair advantage" under law. He has advocated a "coherent immigration policy", and has spoken strongly against amnesty for illegal immigrants because he believes it undermines the rule of law, grants pardons to lawbreakers, and subsidizes more illegal immigration. Paul voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, authorizing an additional 700 miles (1100 kilometers) of double-layered fencing between the U.S. and Mexico.

Paul also believes children born in the U.S. to illegal aliens should not be granted automatic birthright citizenship. He has called for a new Constitutional amendment to revise fourteenth amendment principles and "end automatic birthright citizenship", and believes that welfare issues are directly tied to the immigration problem.


Letters of marque and reprisal

Paul, calling the September 11, 2001, attacks an act of "air piracy", introduced the Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001. Letters of marque and reprisal, authorized by article I, section 8 of the Constitution, would have targeted specific terrorist suspects, instead of invoking war against a foreign state. Paul reproposed this legislation as the Marque and Reprisal Act of 2007. He voted with the majority for the original Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists in Afghanistan.

Historically, the United States issued Letters of Marque against the Barbary pirates, and commissioned privateers to attack the shipping of countries with whom the United States was at war. These letters of Marque were typically issued on a per-voyage basis, and some 1700 of them were granted by the congress during the American Revolution.


Paul supports reopening investigation into the attacks to discover why the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not act on 70 internal field tips: "We had one FBI agent, I think sent dozens and dozens of memos to his superiors saying that there are people trying to fly airplanes but not land them, and nobody would pay any attention." He also advocates investigating why the various intelligence agencies could not collaborate on information to prevent the attacks while spending $40 billion per year. He has called the 9/11 Commission Report a "charade": "Spending more money abroad or restricting liberties at home will do nothing to deter terrorists, yet this is exactly what the 9-11 Commission recommends."

Rejection of conspiracy theory

Paul does not believe the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks were a government conspiracy and has explicitly denied being a 9/11 "truther", arguing the issue is not a conspiracy but a failure of bureaucracy. He believes the 9/11 Commission Report's main goal was "to protect the government and to protect their ineptness - not ... to do this so they can use this as an excuse to spread the war .... Some who did want to spread the war would use it as an opportunity. But, it wasn't something that was deliberately done." He does not think the government would have staged such an attack. When asked whether "9/11 was orchestrated by the government", Paul emphasized, "Absolutely not. Paul has stated that he is concerned of someone creating a "contrived Gulf of Tonkin – type incident" to justify the invasion of Iran or suspend the democratic process, adding, "Let’s hope I’m wrong about this one."


In January 2008, Paul released an economic revitalization plan and named Peter Schiff and Donald L. Luskin economic advisors to the campaign. National Journal labeled Paul's overall economic policies in 2006 as more conservative than 48% of the House and more liberal than 51% of the House.

Lower taxes and smaller government

Paul believes the size of federal government must be decreased substantially. He supports abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service, most Cabinet departments, and the Federal Reserve. Paul's campaign slogan for 2004 was "The Taxpayers' Best Friend!". He would completely eliminate the income tax by shrinking the size and scope of government to what he considers its Constitutional limits, noting that he has never voted to approve an unbalanced budget; he has observed that even scaling back spending to 2000 levels eliminates the need for the 42% of the budget accounted for by individual income tax receipts. He has asserted that Congress had no power to impose a direct income tax and supports the repeal of the sixteenth amendment. Rather than taxing personal income, which he says assumes that the government owns individuals' lives and labor, he prefers the federal government to be funded through excise taxes and/or uniform, non-protectionist tariffs.

Paul has signed a pledge not to raise taxes or create new taxes, given by Americans for Tax Freedom. Paul has also been an advocate of employee-owned corporations (such as employee stock ownership plans). In 1999, he co-sponsored The Employee Ownership Act of 1999, which would have created a new type of corporation (the employee-owned-and-controlled corporation) that would have been exempt from most federal income taxes.

John Berthoud, president of the National Taxpayers Union, an organization that promotes lower tax rates, has said, "Ron Paul has always proven himself to be a leader in the fight for taxpayer rights and fiscal responsibility .... No one can match his record on behalf of taxpayers." Paul has been called a "Taxpayer's Friend" by Berthoud's organization every year since he returned to Congress in 1996, scoring an average percentage of 100%, tying Tom Tancredo for the highest score (1992–2005) among all 2008 presidential candidates from Congress. National Federation of Independent Business president Jack Farris has said, "Paul is a true friend of small business.... He is committed to a pro-small-business agenda of affordable health insurance, lower taxes, tort reform, and the elimination of burdensome mandates.

Paul has stated: "I agree on getting rid of the IRS, but I want to replace it with nothing, not another tax. But let's not forget the inflation tax. In other statements, he has permitted consideration of a national sales tax as a compromise if the tax need cannot be reduced enough. He has advocated that the reduction of government will make an income tax unnecessary. Paul would substantially reduce the government's role in individual lives and in the functions of foreign and domestic states; he says Republicans have lost their commitment to limited government and have become the party of big government. He would eliminate many federal government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Energy, the US Department of Commerce, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Internal Revenue Service, calling them "unnecessary bureaucracies". Paul would severely reduce the role of the CIA; reducing its functions to intelligence-gathering. He would eliminate operations like overthrowing foreign governments and assassinations. He says this activity is kept secret even from Congress and "leads to trouble. He also commented, "We have every right in the world to know something about intelligence gathering, but we have to have intelligent people interpreting this information.

Paul's opposition to the Federal Reserve is supported by the Austrian Business Cycle Theory, which holds that instead of containing inflation, the Federal Reserve, in theory and in practice, is responsible for causing inflation. In addition to eroding the value of individual savings, this creation of inflation leads to booms and busts in the economy. Thus Paul argues that government, via a central bank (the Federal Reserve), is the primary cause of economic recessions and depressions. He believes that economic volatility is decreased when the free market determines interest rates and money supply. He has stated in numerous speeches that most of his colleagues in Congress are unwilling to abolish the central bank because it funds many government activities. He says that to compensate for eliminating the "hidden tax of inflation, Congress and the president would instead have to raise taxes or cut government services, either of which could be politically damaging to their reputations. He states that the "inflation tax" is a tax on the poor, because the Federal Reserve prints more money which subsidizes select industries, while poor people pay higher prices for goods as more money is placed in circulation.

His warnings of impending economic crisis and a loss of confidence in the dollar in 2005 and 2006 were at the time derided by many economists, but accelerating dollar devaluation in 2007 has led experts like former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan to reconsider hard money policies such as those of Paul; in his 2007 memoirs, Greenspan described his nostalgia for the gold standard and warned that future conditions could cause "a return of populist, anti-Fed rhetoric, which has lain dormant since 1991.

Inflation and the Federal Reserve

Paul adheres deeply to Austrian school economics and libertarian criticism of fractional-reserve banking, opposing fiat currency and the inflation thereof; he has written six books on the subjects, has pictures of classical liberal economists Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard, and Ludwig von Mises hanging on his office wall, and is a distinguished counselor to the Mises Institute. Paul opposes inflation as an underhanded form of taxation, because it takes value away from the money that individuals hold without having to directly tax them. He sees the creation of the Federal Reserve, and its ability to "print money out of thin air" without commodity backing, as responsible for eroding the value of money, observing that "a dollar today is worth 4 cents compared to a dollar in 1913 when the Federal Reserve got in." In 1982, Paul was the prime mover in the creation of the U.S. Gold Commission, and in many public speeches Paul has voiced concern over the dominance of the current banking system and called for the return to a commodity-backed currency through a gradual reintroduction of hard currency, including both gold and silver. A commodity standard binds currency issue to the value of that commodity rather than fiat, making the value of the currency as stable as the commodity.

He condemns the role of the Federal Reserve and the national debt in creating inflation. The minority report of the U.S. Gold Commission states that the federal and state governments are strictly limited in their monetary role by Article One, Section Eight, Clauses 2, 5, and 6, and Section Ten, Clause 1, "The Constitution forbids the states to make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debt, nor does it permit the federal government to make anything a legal tender." The Commission also recommended that the federal government "restore a definition for the term 'dollar.' We suggest defining a 'dollar' as a weight of gold of a certain fineness, .999 fine. On multiple occasions in congressional hearings, he has sharply challenged two different chairmen of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke.

He has also called for the removal of all taxes on gold transactions. He has repeatedly introduced the Federal Reserve Board Abolition Act since 1999, to enable "America to return to the type of monetary system envisioned by our Nation's founders: one where the value of money is consistent because it is tied to a commodity such as gold"; it has received virtually no mainstream news coverage. He opposes dependency on paper fiat money, but also says that there "were some shortcomings of the gold standard of the 19th century ... because it was a fixed price and caused confusion." He argues that hard money, such as backed by gold or silver, would prevent inflation, but adds, "I wouldn't exactly go back on the gold standard but I would legalize the constitution where gold and silver should and could be legal tender, which would restrain the Federal Government from spending and then turning that over to the Federal Reserve and letting the Federal Reserve print the money.

Paul strongly supports legalization of parallel currencies, such as gold-backed notes issued from private markets and digital gold currencies. He would like gold-backed notes (or other types of hard money) and digital gold currencies to compete on a level playing field with Federal Reserve Notes, allowing individuals a choice whether to use sound money or to continue using fiat money. Paul believes this would restrain inflation, limit government spending, and eventually eliminate the ability of the Federal Reserve to "tax" Americans through inflation (i.e., by reducing the purchasing power of the currency they are holding), which he sees as "the most insidious of all taxes".

He suggests that current efforts to sustain dollar hegemony, especially since collapse of the Bretton Woods system following the United States' suspension of the dollar's conversion to gold in 1971, exacerbate a rationale for war. Consequently, when petroleum producing nations like Iraq, Iran, or Venezuela elect to trade in Petroeuro instead of Petrodollar, it devalues an already overly inflated dollar, further eroding its supremacy as a global currency. According to Paul, along with vested American interests in oil and plans to "remake the Middle East", this scenario has proven a contributing factor for the war against Iraq and diplomatic tensions with Iran.

He has committed himself for over 30 years to educating Americans in libertarian economic principles, such as eliminating the Federal Reserve Board, a private-public banking entity that Paul says has a centralized monopoly control over our money and threatens to impoverish the population through devaluation of the dollar. Paul has many times confronted Congress with a bill to audit the Federal Reserve Board, which Congress has repeatedly turned down.

Nonviolent tax resistance

In an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News, June 26 2007, in speaking of income tax resistance, Paul said that he supports the right of those who engage in nonviolent resistance when they believe a law is unjust, bringing up the names of Martin Luther King, Lysander Spooner, and Mahatma Gandhi as examples of practitioners of peaceful civil disobedience; but he cautioned that those who do should be aware that the consequences could be imprisonment. He said that current income tax laws assume that people are guilty and they must then prove they are innocent, and he believes this aspect of tax law is unfair. However, he said that he prefers to work for improved tax laws by getting elected to Congress and trying to change the laws themselves rather than simply not paying the tax.

Social Security

Paul says that Social Security is in "bad shape .... The numbers aren't there"; funds are depleting because Congress borrows from the Social Security fund every year to fund its budget. He considers himself the rare member of Congress who has voted for such little spending that it has never required borrowing from existing Social Security funds. To stem the Social Security crisis and meet the commitment to elderly citizens who depend on it, he requires that Congress cut down on spending, reassess monetary and spending policies, and stop borrowing heavily from foreign investors, such as those in China, who hold U.S. Treasury bonds. Paul believes young Americans should be able to opt out of the system if they would like not to pay Social Security taxes, in order to protect the system.

Minimal market interference

Paul opposes virtually all federal interference with the market process. He also endorses defederalization of the health care system.

Paul was one of only three members of Congress that voted against the Sarbanes-Oxley Act: it "imposes costly new regulations on the financial services industry [that] are damaging American capital markets by providing an incentive for small US firms and foreign firms to deregister from US stock exchanges.

In an interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Paul said he favors ending the United States Post Office legal monopoly on first class mail delivery by legalizing private competition.

Paul argued against the $700 billion bailout proposal to purchase toxic debt during the economic crisis of 2008. His vote was among the majority of "nay" votes cast to defeat the initial measure in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House passed a "sweetened" version of the bill, against which Paul voted a second time, later in the week.

Federal spending limits

In order to restrict the federal government to its Constitutionally authorized functions, Paul regularly votes against almost all proposals for new government spending, initiatives, or taxes, often opposed by a heavy majority of his colleagues. On January 22 2007, Paul was the lone member out of 415 voting to oppose a House measure to create a National Archives exhibit on slavery and Reconstruction, seeing this as an unauthorized use of taxpayer money.

However, critics contend that Paul's position is disingenuous because he often requests earmarks for bills that he supposedly knows will pass no matter which way he votes. For example, in 2007 he requested nearly $400 million dollars in earmarks in bills he voted against. A spokesman in the Fox News article says, "Reducing earmarks does not reduce government spending, and it does not prohibit spending upon those things that are earmarked. What people who push earmark reform are doing is they are particularly misleading the public — and I have to presume it's not by accident." Paul openly addresses these concerns by providing an explanation in his weekly column. As Paul says, "In an already flawed system, earmarks can at least allow residents of Congressional districts to have a greater role in allocating federal funds - their tax dollars - than if the money is allocated behind locked doors by bureaucrats."

In a speech on June 25 2003, criticizing giving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, Paul said, “These medals generally have been proposed to recognize a life of service and leadership, and not for political reasons — as evidenced by the overwhelming bipartisan support for awarding President Reagan, a Republican, a gold medal. These awards normally go to deserving individuals, which is why I have many times offered to contribute $100 of my own money, to be matched by other members, to finance these medals.” He has also been criticized for being the only dissenting vote against giving Pope John Paul II, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa the medal. The medals and ceremonies held to bestow them on recipients are expensive. Texas Monthly awarded him the “Bum Steer” award for voting against a congressional honor for cartoonist Charles Schulz, but also noted, “When he was criticized for voting against the [Parks] medal, he chided his colleagues by challenging them to personally contribute $100 to mint the medal. No one did. At the time, Paul observed, ‘It's easier to be generous with other people's money.’”

Civil liberties

Constitutional rights

Freedom of religion

Paul has consistently advocated that the federal government not be involved in citizens' everyday lives. For instance, he believes that prayer in public schools should neither be prohibited nor mandated at the federal or state level.

In a December 2003 article entitled "Christmas in Secular America", Paul wrote, "The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life. The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government. This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before putting their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war.

In 2005, Paul introduced the We the People Act, which would have removed "any claim involving the laws, regulations, or policies of any State or unit of local government relating to the free exercise or establishment of religion" from the jurisdiction of federal courts. If made law, this provision would permit state, county, and local governments to decide whether to allow displays of religious text and imagery and whether to ban atheists from public office.

Paul has sponsored a constitutional amendment which would allow students to pray privately in public schools, but would not allow anyone to be forced to pray against their will or allow the state to compose any type of prayer or officially sanction any prayer to be said in schools.

Freedom of speech

In 1997, Paul introduced a Constitutional amendment giving states the power to prohibit the destruction of the flag of the United States. In June 2003, he voted against a Constitutional amendment to prohibit the physical "desecration" of the flag of the United States. He believes that prohibiting flag burning is a state power, not a federal power.Internet In 2006, a "Technology voter guide" by CNET awarded Paul a score of 80%, the highest score out of both houses of Congress. He believes the internet should be free from government regulation and taxation, and is opposed to internet gambling restrictions and net neutrality.

Paul voted against an amendment that would have legally protected net neutrality: "One of the basic principles, a basic reason why I strongly oppose this is, I see this as a regulation of the Internet, which is a very, very dangerous precedent to set. Paul was also asked, "Do you trust the Verizons or the AT&Ts of the world to give internet users equal access to all media online?" He replied, "Well, quite frankly I don't understand all the details, but if you believe in the free market you try to work out a way to solve those problems through contractual arrangements, not through depending on government regulation, so yes they are difficult and like I admit, I don't understand all those problems that we face, although the point I make is I have a healthy disregard and fear of the bureaucrats doing it because once you do that, those big companies are going to regulate, they're going to be the lobbyists and the politicians that regulate the law, and I think you'll be in worse shape. He was perceived as softening this stance later.

Paul has been criticized for voting against legislation to help catch online child predators, one of the votes used in the CNET "Technology voter guide". In response to critics, Paul said, "I have a personal belief that the responsibility of raising kids, educating kids and training kids is up to the parents and not the state. Once the state gets involved, it becomes too arbitrary." He also believed that the proposed law was unconstitutional.

Ron Paul was one of two representatives to vote against the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act of 2007, which states that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi Internet connection to the public, who "obtains actual knowledge of any facts or circumstances" in relation to illegal visual media such as child pornography transferred over that connection, must register a report of their knowledge to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Right to keep and bear arms

The only 2008 presidential candidate to earn Gun Owners of America's A+ rating, Paul has been a lead sponsor of legislation in Congress attempting to restore individual Second Amendment rights. He has also fought for the right of pilots to be armed.

In the first chapter of his book, Freedom Under Siege, Paul argued that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to place a check on government tyranny, not to merely grant hunting rights or allow self-defense. When asked whether individuals should be allowed to own machine guns, Paul responded, "Whether it's an automatic weapon or not is, I think, irrelevant. Paul believes that a weapons ban at the federal or state level does not work either. "Of course true military-style automatic rifles remain widely available to criminals on the black market. So practically speaking, the assault weapons ban does nothing to make us safer. Rather, he sees school shootings, plane hijackings, and other such events as a result of prohibitions on self-defense. Based on Paul's responses to a 1996 survey, he supports the right of citizens to carry concealed firearms if they are legally owned.

Jury nullification

Paul believes that juries deserve the status of tribunals, and that jurors have the right to judge the law as well as the facts of the case. "The concept of protecting individual rights from the heavy hand of government through the common-law jury is as old as the Magna Carta (1215 A.D.). The Founding Fathers were keenly aware of this principle and incorporated it into our Constitution." He notes that this principle is also stated in Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man", Supreme Court of the United States decisions by Chief Justice John Jay, and writings of Thomas Jefferson. Paul states that judges were not given the right to direct the trial by "instructing" the jury.

Habeas corpus

In the first Republican debate (2007) in California, Paul stated that he would never violate habeas corpus, through which detainees can seek relief from unlawful imprisonment. This is also a pledge in the American Freedom Agenda signed by Paul. National Journal rated Paul's overall social policies in 2006 as more conservative than 44% of the House and more liberal than 56% of the House (45% and 55%, respectively, in 2005).

Federal violations of liberty

Patriot Act Paul broke with his party by voting against the Patriot Act in 2001; he also voted against its 2005 enactment. He has said, "Everything we have done in response to the 9-11 attacks, from the Patriot Act to the war in Iraq, has reduced freedom in America." He has spoken against federal use of torture and what he sees as an abuse of executive authority during the Iraq War to override Constitutional rights.REAL ID Act Paul voted against the REAL ID Act of 2005, an Act to create federal identification-card standards, which has been challenged as violating the Constitutional separation of powers doctrine, and other civil liberties. Enforcement of the Act has been postponed until 2011.Domestic surveillance Paul has spoken against the domestic surveillance program conducted by the National Security Agency on American citizens. He believes the role of government is to protect American citizens' privacy, not violate it. He has signed the American Freedom Agenda pledge not to violate Americans' rights through domestic wiretapping and to renounce autonomous presidential signing statements, which rely on unitary executive theory. In December 2007, he stated his opposition to the US House Resolution 1955, arguing that it "focuses the weight of the US government inward toward its own citizens under the guise of protecting us against violent radicalization. Conscription Paul is strongly opposed to reintroducing the draft. In 2002, he authored and introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives expressing that reinstatement of a draft would be unnecessary and detrimental to individual liberties, a resolution that was endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union. In the 110th Congress, he has proposed a bill which would end Selective Service registration.Eminent domain Paul opposes eminent domain. He wishes to "stop special interests from violating property rights and literally driving families from their homes, farms and ranches." He opposes "regulatory takings .... Governments deprive property owners of significant value and use of their properties — all without paying 'just compensation'.”Affirmative action In 1997, Paul voted to end affirmative action in college admissions. Paul criticizes both racism and obsession with racial identity:
"Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called 'diversity' actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist.
American Community Survey He views the new American Community Survey questions as “both ludicrous and insulting”, believing that the information is simply none of the government's business.

States' rights

Paul's positions on civil liberties are often based on states' rights, certain rights and political powers that U.S. states possess in relation to the federal government. He comments on the Tenth Amendment, "States' rights simply means the individual states should retain authority over all matters not expressly delegated to the federal government in Article I of the Constitution. For instance, the lack of federal murder statutes devolves murder to be a state and local offense.

Pro-life legislation

Paul calls himself "strongly pro-life" and "an unshakable foe of abortion". He believes regulation of medical decisions about maternal or fetal health is "best handled at the state level." He believes that, for the most part, states should retain jurisdiction, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.

Paul refers to his background as an obstetrician as being influential on his view, recalling inadvertently witnessing a late-term abortion performed by one of his instructors during his residency, “It was pretty dramatic for me to see a two-and-a-half-pound baby taken out crying and breathing and put in a bucket.” During a May 15 2007, appearance on the Fox News talk show Hannity and Colmes, Paul argued that his pro-life position was consistent with his libertarian values, asking, "If you can't protect life then how can you protect liberty?" Furthermore, Paul argued in this appearance that since he believes libertarians support non-aggression, libertarians should oppose abortion because abortion is "an act of aggression" against a fetus, which he believes to be alive, human, and possessing legal rights.

Paul has said that the ninth and tenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution do not grant the federal government any authority to legalize or ban abortion, stating that "the federal government has no authority whatsoever to involve itself in the abortion issue".

Paul introduced The Sanctity of Life Act of 2005, a bill that would have defined human life to begin at conception, and removed challenges to prohibitions on abortion from federal court jurisdiction. In 2005, Paul introduced the We the People Act, which would have removed "any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of ... reproduction" from the jurisdiction of federal courts. If made law, either of these acts would allow states to prohibit abortion. In 2005, Paul voted against restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions.

In order to "offset the effects of Roe v. Wade," Paul voted in favor of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. He has described partial birth abortion as a "barbaric procedure". He also introduced H.R. 4379 that would prohibit the Supreme Court from ruling on issues relating to abortion, birth control, the definition of marriage and homosexuality and would cause the court's precedents in these areas to no longer be binding. He once said, “The best solution, of course, is not now available to us. That would be a Supreme Court that recognizes that for all criminal laws, the several states retain jurisdiction.”

Stem-cell research

Paul supports stem-cell research generically, as evidenced by his authoring the Cures Can Be Found Act of 2007 (H.R. 457; H.R. 3444 in 2005), a bill "to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide credits against income tax for qualified stem cell research, the storage of qualified stem cells, and the donation of umbilical cord blood." However, Paul believes the debate over the embryonic category of stem-cell research is another divisive issue over which the federal government has no jurisdiction:

"Those engaged in this debate tend to split into warring camps claiming exclusive moral authority to decide the issue once and for all.

On one side, those who support the President’s veto tend to argue against embryonic stem cell research, pointing to the individual rights of the embryo being discarded for use in research. On the other hand are those who argue the embryo will be discarded any way, and the research may provide valuable cures for people suffering from terrible illnesses.

In Washington, these two camps generally advocate very different policies. The first group wants a federal ban on all such research, while the latter group expects the research to be federally-subsidized. Neither side in this battle seems to consider the morality surrounding the rights of federal taxpayers ....

Paul voted "no" on a federal ban on human cloning.

Capital punishment

Paul stated in August 2007 that at the state level "capital punishment is a deserving penalty for those who commit crime", but he does not believe that the federal government should use it as a penalty.

In Tavis Smiley's All-American Forum debate at Morgan State in September 2007, Paul stated: "Over the years I've held pretty rigid to all my beliefs, but I've changed my opinion of the death penalty. For federal purposes I no longer believe in the death penalty. I believe it has been issued unjustly. If you're rich, you get away with it; if you're poor and you're from the inner city you're more likely to be prosecuted and convicted, and today, with the DNA evidence, there've been too many mistakes, and I am now opposed to the federal death penalty.


Paul has asserted that he does not think there should be any federal control over education and education should be handled at a local and state level. He opposes the federal No Child Left Behind Act, voting against it in 2001 and remaining opposed to it as an ineffective federal program.

Paul has proposed the use of education tax credits, included in his bill the Family Education Freedom Act (H.R. 612), which provides a $3,000 tax credit to families to choose their own schools. He has also introduced the Education Improvement Tax Cut Act, which would provide for a tax credit for up to a $3,000 donation to the public or private school of the taxpayer's choice, which would provide accountability and more money to America's schools from a local level. Paul has also proposed tax credits of $5,000 per year for each family, which could be used for any school-related expenses, whether the children of the family attend public or private school or are home-schooled.

Paul has rejected government-issued vouchers in favor of education tax credits. Paul supports the right of state and local school districts to implement education vouchers according to the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, but he does not believe they should exist on a federal level. He says that vouchers are given to certain students favored over others, and it is not fair for some middle-class parents to have to pay their child's own way at a private school while other parents' children are selected for government voucher programs. He opposes the welfare state generally, and says that in their current form, vouchers are a form of welfare given to some over others; they would be worthwhile if they resulted in an equal amount of money being taken out of the public school system, but the end result is usually more money on both vouchers for private schools and more money for the public school system. He says that vouchers would only work if they gave public schools some competition and forced public schools to get better, but when the public school gets all the money it would have and more even with vouchers as competition, the public system has no reason to get better.

Paul says that when voucher proponents say that students have a right to a good education and give vouchers as the answer, it means that private schools must fall under federal regulations to ensure that they are meeting students' rights. He says that if given the choice of which private school to attend, parents may choose to use their taxpayer-voucher to attend a school objectionable to some, such as one run by, for example, the Nation of Islam, and for that situation not to happen, government control over which schools are acceptable for vouchers would have to be injected. He asserts that colleagues have mentioned before that to take vouchers, religious schools would have to seek government accreditation under the Department of Education. He argues that this would in effect be a forced accreditation process because schools that choose not to take part will not be seen as having the "government's seal of approval" and may go out of business. He points to how the federal government has used federal funding for universities to tell universities what policies they must accept, and that the government would try to do the same with private schools.

Sexual orientation legislation

Same-sex adoption On 1999 House appropriations bill H.R. 2587, for the government of the District of Columbia, Paul voted for four different amendments to prohibit federal funding. Of these, Amendment 356 would have prevented federal money appropriated in the bill (money "for a Federal payment to the District of Columbia to create incentives to promote the adoption of children in the District of Columbia foster care system") from being spent on "the joint adoption of a child between individuals who are not related by blood or marriage", whether same-sex or opposite-sex.Same-sex unions Paul opposes all federal efforts to redefine marriage, whether defined as a union between one man and one woman, or defined as including anything else as well. He believes that recognizing or legislating marriages should be left to the states, and not subjected to judicial activism. For this reason, Paul voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004.

In 2004, he spoke in support of the Defense of Marriage Act (passed in 1996) which uses the U.S. Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause to prohibit states from being compelled to recognize same-sex relationships as marriages, even if treated as marriages in other states. The Defense of Marriage Act also prohibits the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even if treated as marriages in other states. He co-sponsored the Marriage Protection Act, which would have barred judges from hearing cases pertaining to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Paul has said that federal officials changing the definition of marriage is "an act of social engineering profoundly hostile to liberty. Paul stated, "Americans understandably fear that if gay marriage is legalized in one state, all other states will be forced to accept such marriages. He says that in a best case scenario, governments would enforce contracts and grant divorces but otherwise have no say in marriage. Paul has also stated he doesn't want to interfere in the free association of two individuals in a social, sexual, and religious sense. Additionally, when asked if he was supportive of gay marriage Paul responded "I am supportive of all voluntary associations and people can call it whatever they want."

In 2005, Paul introduced the We the People Act, which would have removed from the jurisdiction of federal courts "any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction" and "any claim based upon equal protection of the laws to the extent such claim is based upon the right to marry without regard to sex or sexual orientation." If made law, these provisions would remove sexual practices, and particularly same-sex unions, from federal jurisdiction.Don't ask, don't tell In the third Republican debate on June 5 2007, Paul said about the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy:

"I think the current policy is a decent policy. And the problem that we have with dealing with this subject is we see people as groups, as they belong to certain groups and that they derive their rights as belonging to groups. We don't get our rights because we're gays or women or minorities. We get our rights from our Creator as individuals. So every individual should be treated the same way. So if there is homosexual behavior in the military that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. But if there's heterosexual behavior that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. So it isn't the issue of homosexuality. It's the concept and the understanding of individual rights. If we understood that, we would not be dealing with this very important problem."
Paul elaborated his position in a 65-minute interview at Google, stating that he would not discharge troops for being homosexual if their behavior was not disruptive.Sodomy Ron Paul has been a critic of the Supreme Court's decision on the Lawrence v. Texas case in which sodomy laws were ruled unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. In an essay posted to the Lew Rockwell website he wrote
"Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court in June. The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment “right to privacy.” Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states’ rights – rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards.


As a free-market environmentalist, Paul sees polluters as aggressors who should not be granted immunity or otherwise insulated from accountability. Paul argues that enforcing private property rights through tort law would hold people and corporations accountable, and would increase the cost of polluting activities - thus decreasing pollution. He claims that environmental protection has failed in communist countries such as China, citing lack of respect for private property:

"The environment is better protected under private property rights .... We as property owners can't violate our neighbors' property. We can't pollute their air or their water. We can't dump our garbage on their property .... Too often, conservatives and libertarians fall short on defending environmental concerns, and they resort to saying, 'Well, let's turn it over to the EPA. The EPA will take care of us .... We can divvy up the permits that allow you to pollute.' So I don't particularly like that method.

He believes that environmental legislation, such as emissions standards, should be handled between and among the states or regions concerned. "The people of Texas do not need federal regulators determining our air standards.

In an October 2007 interview on the environment, Paul held that climate change is not a "major problem threatening civilization". He declined to name any particular environmental heroes and affirmed no special environmental achievements other than his educating the people about free-market solutions rather than "government expenditures and special-interest politics". While he had stated his membership in the Congressional Green Scissors Coalition in a June interview, he did not recall the group's name in the later interview, describing it only as "a lot of environmentalists that work with me very closely".

  • In 2005, supported by Friends of the Earth, Paul cosponsored a bill preventing the U.S. from funding nuclear power plants in China.
  • He has voted against federal subsidies for the oil and gas industry, saying that without government subsidies to the oil and gas industries, alternative fuels would be more competitive with oil and gas and would come to market on a competitive basis sooner.
  • Paul is opposed to federal subsidies that favor certain technologies over others, such as ethanol from corn rather than sugarcane, and believes the market should decide which technologies are best and which will succeed in the end.
  • He sponsored an amendment to repeal the federal gas tax for consumers.
  • He believes that nuclear power is a clean and efficient potential alternative that could be used to power electric cars.
  • He believes that states should be able to decide whether to allow production of hemp, which can be used in producing sustainable biofuels, and has introduced bills into Congress to allow states to decide this issue; North Dakota, particularly, has built an ethanol plant with the ability to process hemp as biofuel and its farmers have been lobbying for the right to grow hemp for years.
  • He voted against 2004 and 2005 provisions that would shield makers from liability for MTBE, a possibly cancer-causing gasoline additive that seeped into New England groundwater. The proposal included $1.8 billion to fund cleanup and another $2 billion to fund companies' phaseout programs.

The League of Conservation Voters gave Paul a lifetime voting-record score of 30%, while Republicans for Environmental Protection gave him a score of 17.

Health policy

Health care costs

Paul has called for passage of tax relief bills to reduce health care costs for families: He would support a tax credit for senior citizens who need to pay for costly prescription drugs. He would also allow them to import drugs from other countries at lower prices. He has called for health savings accounts that allow for tax-free savings to be used to pay for prescriptions.

  • H.R. 3075 allows families to claim a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for health insurance premiums.
  • H.R. 3076 provides a dollar-for-dollar tax credit that permits consumers to purchase "negative outcomes" insurance prior to undergoing surgery or other serious medical treatments. Negative outcomes insurance is a novel approach that guarantees those harmed receive fair compensation, while reducing the burden of costly malpractice litigation on the health care system. Patients receive this insurance payout without having to endure lengthy lawsuits, and without having to give away a large portion of their award to a trial lawyer. This also drastically reduces the costs imposed on physicians and hospitals by malpractice litigation. Under HR 3076, individuals who pay taxes can purchase negative outcomes insurance at essentially no cost.
  • H.R. 3077 creates a $500 per child tax credit for medical expenses and prescription drugs that are not reimbursed by insurance. It also creates a $3,000 tax credit for dependent children with terminal illnesses, cancer, or disabilities.
  • H.R. 3078 waives the employee portion of Social Security payroll taxes (or self-employment taxes) for individuals with documented serious illnesses or cancer. It also suspends Social Security taxes for primary caregivers with a sick spouse or child.

Paul voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would allow the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to get the best price for drugs provided in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.

Paul rejects universal health care, believing that the more government interferes in medicine, the higher prices rise and the less efficient care becomes. He points to how many people today are upset with the HMO system, but few people realize that HMOs came about because of a federal mandate in 1973. He also points to the 1974 ERISA law that grants tax benefits to employers for providing insurance but not individuals; he prefers a system which grants tax credits to individuals. He supports the U.S. converting to a free market health care system, saying in an interview on New Hampshire NPR that the present system is akin to a "corporatist-fascist" system which keeps prices high. He says that in industries with freer markets prices go down due to technological innovation, but because of the corporatist system, this is prevented from happening in health care. He opposes socialized health care promoted by Democrats as being harmful because they lead to bigger and less efficient government.

Paul has said that although he prefers tax credits to socialized medicine, he would be willing to "prop up" the current systems of Medicare and Medicaid with money saved by bringing troops home from foreign bases in places such as those in South Korea.

He opposes government regulation of vitamins and minerals, observing that the Codex Alimentarius proposal would even require a prescription for basic vitamins.


Paul favors the use of marijuana as a medical option. He was cosponsor of H.R. 2592, the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act. He opposes federal prohibition of this option in states such as California under Proposition 215.

Paul has joined prominent liberal Democrats in urging that states be allowed to permit farmers to grow industrial hemp, which currently is defined as a controlled substance. He contends that this would help North Dakota and other agriculture states, where farmers have requested the ability to farm hemp for years.

In 2005 and 2007 he introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act "to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana, and for other purposes; it currently has eleven cosponsors. This bill would give the states the power to regulate farming of hemp. The measure would be a first since the national prohibition of industrial hemp farming in the United States. The Economist wrote that his support for hemp farming could appeal to farmers in Iowa.

Drug prohibition

Paul contends that prohibition of drugs is ineffective and advocates ending the War on Drugs. "Prohibition doesn’t work. Prohibition causes crime." He believes that drug abuse should be treated as a medical problem, "We treat alcoholism now as a medical problem and I, as a physician, think we should treat drug addiction as a medical problem and not as a crime." The Constitution does not enumerate or delegate to Congress the authority to ban or regulate drugs in general. He believes the war on drugs is a racist policy against African Americans, who are affected disproportionally.

Paul believes in personal responsibility, but also sees inequity in the current application of drug enforcement laws, noting in 2000, "Many prisoners are non-violent and should be treated as patients with addictions, not as criminals. Irrational mandatory minimal sentences have caused a great deal of harm. We have non-violent drug offenders doing life sentences, and there is no room to incarcerate the rapists and murderers.

When asked about his position on implementing the tenth amendment, Paul explained, "Certain medical procedures and medical choices, I would allow the states to determine that. The state law should prevail not the Federal Government." Speaking specifically about Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana clinics Paul said, "They’re unconstitutional," and went on to advocate states' rights and personal choice: "You’re not being compassionate by taking medical marijuana from someone who’s suffering from cancer or AIDS .... People should have freedom of choice. We certainly should respect the law and the law says that states should be able to determine this."

Veterans' hospital access

Paul believes that the Veterans Administration should not be building more hospitals, and that VA hospitals should instead be phased out. He believes that government should pay to treat veterans in private hospitals, arguing they will get better care more cost-effectively.

Election law

Ballot access

As a former Libertarian Party candidate for President, Paul has been a proponent of ballot access law reform, and has spoken out on numerous election law reform issues.

In 2003, he introduced H. R. 1941, the Voter Freedom Act of 2003, that would have created uniform ballot access laws for independent and third political party candidates in Congressional elections. He supported this bill in a speech before Congress in 2004. In 2007 he reintroduced a similar version of the bill.

Voting Rights Act

In 2006, Paul joined 32 other members of Congress in opposing the renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, originally passed to remove barriers to voting participation for minorities. Paul has indicated that he did not object to the voting rights clauses, but rather to restrictions placed on property rights by the bill. He felt the federal interference mandated by the bill was costly and unjustified because the situation for minorities voting is much different than when the bill was passed 40 years ago. Many of Texas' Republican representatives voted against the bill, because they believe it specifically singles out some Southern states, including Texas, for federal Justice Department oversight that makes it difficult for localities to change the location of a polling place or other small acts without first receiving permission from the federal government. The bill also mandated bilingual voting ballots upon request, and in a letter opposing the bill for this reason, 80 members of Congress including Paul objected to the costly implications of requiring bilingual ballots. In one example cited in the letter, the members detailed how Los Angeles spent $2.1 million for the 2004 election to provide ballots in seven different languages and more than 2,000 translators, although one of the requirements of gaining United States citizenship is ability to read in English, and another California district spent $30,000 on translating ballots per election despite receiving only one request for Spanish documents in 16 years. The legislators also noted that printing in foreign languages increases the chances of ballot error, pointing out a specific example of erroneous translated ballots that had been used in Flushing, New York.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Paul wrote of his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
It "not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society. Federal bureaucrats and judges cannot read minds to see if actions are motivated by racism. Therefore, the only way the federal government could ensure an employer was not violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was to ensure that the racial composition of a business's workforce matched the racial composition of a bureaucrat or judge's defined body of potential employees. Thus, bureaucrats began forcing employers to hire by racial quota. Racial quotas have not contributed to racial harmony or advanced the goal of a color-blind society. Instead, these quotas encouraged racial balkanization, and fostered racial strife."

State representation

Paul would like to restore State representation in Congress. During a speech in New Hampshire in February 2007 Paul called for a repeal of the seventeenth amendment, which allows for direct election of U.S. Senators. Instead Paul would have members of state legislatures vote for U.S. Senators as they had done under Article One, Section 3. Direct popular representation would be retained in the U.S. House of Representatives. Paul believes that increased representation of state interests at the federal level encourages greater sharing of power between state and federal government, and that greater state participation serves as a check against a powerful federal government.

Congressional appointment

In 2003, he spoke out against the enacted law that appoints (rather than elects) members of Congress in the event of the death of several members due to an act of terrorism.

Campaign contributions

In 2002, he spoke before the Congress in opposition to campaign finance reforms that place any restrictions on citizens and businesses making campaign contributions to the candidate of their choice. He based his argument on the First Amendment, Separation of Powers, and Constitutional authority, and the belief that such efforts are also counterproductive in reducing entrenched powers.

Electoral college

In 2004, he spoke out against efforts to abolish the electoral college, stating that such a reform would weaken the “voting power of pro-liberty states” and that “Populated areas on both coasts would have increasing influence on national elections, to the detriment of less populated southern and western states.”

See also

External links

Official sites


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