The Sun and other media outlets around the nation have recently covered claims of plagiarism by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul ("Don't copy, don't tell lies," Nov. 8). While the senator has conceded to prolific plagiarism, at least by some on his staff, the real reason for concern is less with the originality of words the senator claimed as his own than about the ideas expressed.

Commenting on the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, Senator Paul said, "Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be 'constitutional' does not make it so."

I am not sure how the senator defines "a couple," but in the Supreme Court decision he refers to a majority of five justices voted to uphold the health care law enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. At best, the senator has a problem counting, and at the worst, he is unfamiliar with the role the Supreme Court plays as one of the three equal branches of American government as set forth in Article III of the Constitution.

I serve as the executive director of Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc., a nonprofit organization that for 55 years has promoted housing justice by combating prejudice and discrimination. I am concerned when anyone, let alone a U.S. senator, believes it is acceptable when a "free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination … even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin. It is unenlightened and ill-informed to promote discrimination against individuals based on the color of their skin. It is likewise unwise to forget the distinction between public (taxpayer-financed) and private entities."

The federal Fair Housing Act and its state and local counterparts prohibit discrimination by direct providers of housing such as landlords and real estate companies as well as other entities such as municipalities, banks, insurance companies or others engaging in discriminatory housing practices. In fact, much housing discrimination results from policies and practices conducted by private, entrepreneurial business, as distinguished from government (taxpayer) supported housing providers. Private business is not exempt from fair housing laws, nor should it be.

Senator Paul's plagiarism may speak to his character and integrity, buy his ideas, regardless of where the words come from, are far more noteworthy.

Robert J. Strupp, Baltimore

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