POLITICS

Donald Trump Has So Many Unconstitutional Ideas That The ACLU Is Tracking Them

The civil liberties group said it's ready to fight if necessary.
Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, urged Trump to think about the Constitution a lot more.
Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, urged Trump to think about the Constitution a lot more.

The American Civil Liberties Union has officially begun to count the ways that Donald Trump would violate the Constitution as president if he followed through with all his awful proposals.

The organization on Thursday unveiled “The Trump Memos,” an analysis of the constitutional threats posed by positions that Trump has taken since launching his bid for the presidency. The 27-page report lays out problems in six areas: immigration, discrimination against Muslims, abortion rights, mass surveillance, torture and press freedoms.

“By our analysis, the Trump administration would violate” a number of constitutional provisions, said Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director, in a call with reporters ahead of the report’s release.

Trump’s infamous idea for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. would violate the First Amendment’s prohibition on the government disfavoring one religion over others, Romero said. It could also violate the due process and religious rights of those U.S. citizen and resident Muslims affected by it.

“It would be a constitutional battle that would roil for years,” Romero said of a legal challenge to any such ban, adding that his lawyers would be ready to fight in the courts if it ever came to pass.

On immigration, the ACLU report argues that Trump’s idea to deport people en masse “would erode civil liberties of undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens alike by leading to a systematic reliance on racial profiling and illegal detentions.” That, in turn, would violate the Constitution’s guarantees of equality and due process, as well as its prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Some of these same protections would be trampled by Trump’s proposal to harness the surveillance powers of the National Security Agency to watch ever more citizens ― an area where the ACLU has been pushing for change in Congress and in the courts.

Romero wrote a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday that essentially previewed the report.

The ACLU report doesn’t cover all of Trump’s threats to the rule of law, as Romero acknowledged Thursday. Notably, it doesn’t address the candidate’s evident disrespect for the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary ― as when he kept accusing a federal judge of being biased solely because the judge is of Mexican heritage.

But Romero said the ACLU is willing to add to the list or even amend it if Trump changes or truly tempers his positions.

“This is an invitation — in fact, an exhortation— to consider the constitutional implications of his policies and to refine his policies to comport with the Constitution,” Romero said.

Lest anyone think the ACLU, which is nonpartisan and not taking sides in the election, is picking on Trump, Romero said a report on Hillary Clinton’s proposals is forthcoming.

Clinton’s views have “changed and evolved a great deal over time,” he said, adding that she has expressed troublesome positions on deportation (and how it breaks up families), government surveillance and torture.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.

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