“Trump’s personal constitution is deeply at odds with the restraints demanded by the U.S. Constitution.” — Corey Brettschneider in Politico
This Wednesday, when he proposed introducing stop and frisk procedures in African-American communities across the United States, Donald Trump reached an alarming milestone. By my count, he’s enumerated at least 10 different policies, which stand in direct contradiction to rights clearly defined in the United States Constitution.
To confirm this, let’s take quick look at each of these policies and actions and briefly explain why they’re un-constitutional. Each proposal is also parenthetically accompanied by the specific sections of the U.S. Constitution Trump directly contradicts.
1. A religious test for entry to the United States— Trump’s well-known proposal to enact a religious test to entry to the United States directly contradicts the desires of the Founders to ensure religious liberty in this newly-formed nation. His proposal began as a ban on Muslims but has evolved into more of an ideological test. That’s unconstitutional either way. Additionally, if you think the U.S. Constitution shouldn’t apply to non-citizens, remember that Trump’s initial inclination was to disallow Muslims who are American citizens from returning to the country. (5th and 14th Amendments)
“Unless you suspend the Constitution and instruct the police to behave as if we live in North Korea, it ain’t happening.” — Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush on Trump’s deportation plan
3. Change libel laws— Trump has repeatedly expressed his yearning for stricter libel laws so he can sue those people (especially news organizations) who criticize him (or his wife) for publishing content which is factual and already in the public record. (1st Amendment)
4. Restrict freedom of the press — Immediately after the Chelsea explosion, Trump blamed the press and magazines in particular for showing people how to make bombs. “We should arrest people that do that,” he said, “because they are participating in crime.” (1st Amendment)
5. Extend the use of torture —Not only has Trump suggested that waterboarding is just a start, he has explicitly embraced the term “torture.” Therefore, it’s inarguable whether what he’s referring to as torture qualifies or not. He also advocates killing the wives and children of terrorists: These actions the international community considers war crimes. The U.S. Constitution considers them cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment. They also infer the dismissal of an individual’s right to trial. (5th, 6th, 8th and 14th Amendments)
6. Remove right to counsel and due process— After the September bombings in New York and New Jersey, Trump lamented that Ahmad Khan Rahami might as an American citizen benefit from a decent lawyer and a typical route through the nation’s courts. Trump also previously said U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism should be sent directly to Guantanamo Bay for trial, demonstrating an astonishing gap in his understanding of these basic Constitutional rights, including again, the right to a speedy trial and a fair jury. (6th Amendment)
Update: Trump has taken to repeatedly pledging to put Hillary Clinton in jail should he become President. This rhetoric is unprecedented in a U.S. Presidential candidate. Additionally, a sitting President does not have the authority to order that any individual be tried or jailed. This is all aside from the fact that all investigations into Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s use of emails by Republican-lead panels have repeatedly found Clinton innocent of any law-breaking. As many have noted, when Richard Nixon tried to something similar as a sitting President, his Attorney General quit. (6th Amendment)
7. Track and surveil Muslim citizens—Trump has suggest tracking and surveilling Muslim people and their communities, whether citizens or not in the United States. This would obviously undermine their rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression and to equal protection of the laws. Even Ted Cruz found Trump’s suggestion of a national registry for Muslims unconscionable. (1st and 14th Amendments)
8. Close some mosques—Trump has even gone so far as to suggest closing some mosques in the United States, an obvious breech of 1st amendment rights — even if those mosques were preaching “radical Islam.” (1st Amendment)
9. Declared a judge unfit to serve—When Trump declared U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel unfit to serve because of his Mexican heritage, many may not have understood the outrage on both sides at his remark. He also promised to “swamp” the court with “real judges.” His remarks—and the actions he declared he would take—signal a disregard for the Constitution’s requirements for a separation of powers and an independent judicial system. (1st, 2nd and 3rd Articles)
10. Take stop & frisk nationwide — Presiding over a town hall meeting on issues in the black community today, Trump announced that he wants to bring stop and frisk to African-American communities across the United States. However, in 2014, the New York district judge Shira Scheindlin already ruled stop and frisk tactics unconstitutional in a carefully considered and comprehensive 198-page ruling. Stop and frisk infringes on a U.S. citizen’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and, given their dependency on racial discrimination, such searches are by definition violations of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause (4th and 14th Amendments)
One caveat: This list may not be exhaustive. But when you consider the scale and impact of even these 10 proposals, they serve as a clear indicator of the Constitutional disaster we would find in a President Trump.
“You know— the Constitution— there’s nothing like it. But it doesn’t necessarily give us the right to commit suicide, as a country, OK?” — Donald Trump
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