Donald Trump

Donald Trump, Enemy of the Constitution

Trump has trashed free speech, religious liberty, property rights, and limits on executive power.

|

Here's a question for you to puzzle over. Can you name the single most unconstitutional thing Donald Trump has proposed or endorsed so far in the 2016 presidential race?

Not an easy question to answer, is it? Do you start with Trump's efforts to suppress immigration by gutting the 14th Amendment? Or do you perhaps point to Trump's long war on the Fifth Amendment and its protections for property rights, as exemplified by Trump's embrace of boundless eminent domain powers for the government and Trump's own shameful record of seeking to personally profit when government officials seize homes and businesses and then hand the bulldozed land over to crony capitalist real estate developers?

Either of the above could serve as an answer to my opening question. But when it comes to Trump's unconstitutional agenda, there are plenty of other noxious options to choose from.

What about Trump's call for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States? That stance manages to offend multiple constitutional principles in a single bound, including such bedrock concepts as religious liberty, due process, and equal protection.

Speaking of religious liberty, there is also Trump's belief that the government should have the power to close mosques. Needless to say, the First Amendment plainly forbids the government from taking the truly authoritarian step of shuttering houses of worship, be they mosques, churches, synagogues, or temples.

In addition to protecting the free exercise of religion, the First Amendment also protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press. So of course Trump has come out against those two constitutional principles as well. Trashing free speech, Trump has said the government should be able to censor parts of the Internet. Trashing freedom of the press, Trump wants to gut libel law so that it will be easier for him to sue (and thus silence) those journalists who write unkind things about him. Just like a crybaby advocate of political correctness, Trump wants to hollow out the First Amendment in order to make a "safe space" for himself.

Because Trump is seeking the office of the presidency and hopes to soon wield the authority it contains, his disregard for constitutional limits on executive power is particularly troubling. Ominously, Trump has praised Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt's internment of Japanese-Americans, one of the more vile and indefensible episodes in American presidential history. Yet Trump has cited FDR's crimes as an example worth following when it comes to Trump's own desire to single Muslims out for abuse. FDR "is a president highly respected by all, he did the same thing," Trump has bragged. To say the least, decent Americans should look on FDR's misdeeds and recoil. Trump seems to think FDR laid out a useful blueprint for future acts of government repression.

By my count, Donald Trump has trashed the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Bill of Rights generally, the 14th Amendment, due process, equal protection, and the doctrine of enumerated and limited executive powers. What part of the Constitution will Trump seek to undermine or attack next? Regrettably, I have little doubt we are going to find out.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

59 responses to “Donald Trump, Enemy of the Constitution

  1. He is going for the completionist achievement.

    1. Maybe he’ll try to do away with the 16th and 17th Amendments? I’m not a fan of either of those.

      I think the 22nd has done more harm than good, as well, actually.

    2. Shutting down the Internet, or parts of it, is a high priority for Trump. No wonder he donated to Clinton.

  2. Most people couldn’t give a shit about the Constitution. If anything they view it as an impediment to the government “getting things done,” which of course is a bad thing because only government can “get things done.”

  3. “Here’s a question for you to puzzle over. Can you name the single most unconstitutional thing Donald Trump has proposed or endorsed so far in the 2016 presidential race?”

    Here’s a question for you. Can you name the single most unconstitutional thing Hillary Clinton has actually done?

    As much as I despise Trump, the real life criminality of Hillary Clinton is staggering. If you aren’t doing 2 Hillary articles per 1 Trump article, you aren’t doing your job.

    1. What the fuck does “most unconstitutional” mean? Something is constitutional or it is not constitutional.

      1. If we can have hate crimes, we can have most unconstitutional.

        1. Most hated crimes? Most hated unconstitutional crimes?

    2. Yeah, this is getting really old.

    3. Oh, they’re doing their job, which is trying to generate clicks.

    4. You haven’t been around here too long, have you? You have no idea how much disappointment you’re in for.

  4. Oh goody! Another “Trump is an authoritarian fascist unlike any other candidate ever”, article! I was worried we would run short.

    1. Oh goody, another TEAM RED whine about how Reason is being unfair to a leading presidential candidate.

      1. Why is Reason always so critical of the party that we are told have the most common cause with libertarians? Why don’t they focus their criticism on the party that most libertarians already hate?

        1. Well, assuming your framing is accurate, you’re basically asking why they don’t preach to the choir. Any good libertarian should hate both parties.

          1. But not equally. Don Ernsberger proved the Democrats were much worse.

      2. Really? Where is the “TEAM RED” whine about unfairness? Or do you mistake mocking Reason’s Trump obsession for something else?

        1. You and I both know that if Reason was trashing Hilary or Bernie, nobody would be complaining.

          1. The comment only pointed out the absurd Trump obsession, resulting in at least three articles in a row on basically the same subject. But feel free to read anything you want into it, if it makes you happy.

          2. If they piled on either of them the way they are piling on Trump, I think many of us would. It’s getting a bit obsessive.

    2. It makes sense for a libertarian opinion site to attack Trump repeatedly (and Clinton too). Not sure why the Republicans are doing it to their own nominee though.

  5. What part of the Constitution will Trump seek to undermine or attack next?

    The 3rd amendment? I don’t think he’s suggested quartering troops in people’s homes to “protect” them 24/7 yet…

  6. How do the writers at Reason feel about Trump? I haven’t seen any articles on him lately…

  7. IANAL, but the idea that it’s “unconstitutional” to decide who gets to immigrate to the US is obviously bullshit, based on history and logic. A constitutional republic cannot exclude people who want to end the constitutional republic? It’s not a suicide pact. And yes, regardless of all the “moderate Muslim” blather, at the core of the religion is a political goal which is purely anti-constitutional (and anti-libertarian).

    1. Yeah, I don’t see controlling who may enter the country as a violation of the constitution, unless you torture some amendment’s meaning beyond all recognition to get there.

      1. It is a violation if it includes American citizens, and there are lots of native-born American Muslims. And yes, Trump intended to include them in his proposed ban–he said so (or one of his spokesmen did–don’t have time now to find it).
        My Muslim American citizen colleagues are not amused–sometimes they travel internationally.

        1. Do you start with Trump’s efforts to suppress immigration by gutting the 14th Amendment?

          The author specifically referenced immigration. American citizens returning from overseas are not immigrants.

    2. IANAL

      Heheheh….I’m sure you do…heh heheh

  8. So, Hillary’s IT guy rolls over for the feds, a major break in a case against a former SecState and current favorite for the presidency, and it gets a bullet in Morning Links.

    Trump does nothing new or unusual (for him), and we get serial posts on what a monster he is.

    Seriously, editors, take a deep breath, and a step back, and think about how you are covering this campaign.

  9. And I must say, a candidate’s view of eminent domain is w-a-a-a-a-y down my list of concerns. Yes, Kelo was wrongly decided, but in terms of total impact, it’s below even trivial crap like transgender bathroom rights.

    1. Besides, it’s extremely unlikely POTUS is going to sign a bill authorizing fedgov’s condemnation of land for private purposes.

  10. Errr, @ the author. I think you mean the 4th. The 5th is the right to not self-incriminate

    Quite frankly the only one I want him to do away with is the 22nd, let’s have 5 terms of Trump, break FDR’s record!

    1. Umm…no, he’s referring to the Fifth:

      No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

  11. I don’t trust Trump on the Second Amendment either.

    If he wins, I think his support among blue collar, middle-class, registered Democrats will be crucial–and that will make him less principled on things like the Second Amendment.

    I also thinks he cares more about making headlines than standing on principle. If betraying the Republicans on Single Payer, the Second Amendment, etc. would generate more headlines for him than ever, I think he might be betray them on those issues for that reason alone.

    1. blue collar, middle-class, registered Democrats will be crucial–and that will make him less principled on things like the Second Amendment.

      I thought those were some of the strongest supporters of 2A rights. Why would their support make him more hostile to the 2A?

      1. Yeah, that makes no sense to me.

      2. When I think of support for the Second Amendment, I don’t think of white, middle class Democrats in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the Northeast. I don’t think of registered Democrat, white working moms on the eastern seaboard.

        These are people who generally find “gun culture” abhorrent.

        They aren’t latte swilling liberals, but they probably want a “common sense” “assault weapons” ban.

        1. For that more limited class, sure, but I think the initial, broader description and “blue collar” points us at a demographic that tends to be pro-gun rights.

          1. Not blue collar Democrats.

            As I keep saying, we’ve come to think of Democrats as minorities and gays, but if Trump wins, it’ll be because of what we used to call “Reagan Democrats”.

            Blue collar, middle class whites who don’t like free trade, illegal immigration, and have been registered as Democrats their whole lives.

            And the reason places like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, etc. have strict gun control is because those blue collar white Democrats want it that way. They do not want people having AR-15s, especially the moms.

            And those are the people to whom Trump will be beholden. Once he gets the nomination, we might see him change his tune on gun control before the campaign is over.

            1. Not blue collar Democrats.

              Its probably more of a regional thing. Get outside of the deep blue enclaves, and the blue collar folks, Dem or Rep, are pretty pro-gun.

              1. We need to revise our image of Democrats.

                They aren’t all just minorities, illegal aliens, and metrosexual hipsters.

                And they don’t want people owning AR-15s for reals.

          1. Trump has the best position on health care reform I’ve seen among presidential contenders outside of Rand Paul. Cruz might equal him.

          2. Surprising me, looks like I agree with more of his China trade policy than I disagree with.

            Why aren’t we discussing substance more in the presidential election? Is this Reason or People?

        2. “They aren’t latte swilling liberals, but they probably want a “common sense” “assault weapons” ban.”

          I think Trump was for that and recently changed his position. So either blue collar Dems are bigger gun nuts or he isn’t really listening to them here. Doesn’t mean he won’t change again though…

          1. Trump conveniently changed his position on “assault weapons”–about the same time he decided to run for the Republican nomination.

            But as I keep saying, if Trump wins the Presidency, it won’t be because of Republicans. It will be because white, blue collar, registered Democrats vote for him–just like they voted for Reagan.

            The demographic that’s voting for Trump in the closed Republican primaries is white, blue collar people who don’t like free trade or illegal immigration. Trump did well in Nevada with Hispanics for his economic populism.

            The Democratic Party has neglected, nay, demonized its white, blue collar core support. There isn’t anything about Black Lives Matter or gay rights that resonates with Iris-Americans or Italian-Americans in the northeast. There isn’t anything about going after nuns that resonates with blue collar Catholics in the midwest . . .

            Trump will do well with those registered Democrats. He will be beholden to them if he wins.

            And that is not your principled Second Amendment rights constituency. Those are the people who would like to hear and see that Trump isn’t an “extremist” on gun rights.

            1. “Trump conveniently changed his position on “assault weapons”–about the same time he decided to run for the Republican nomination.”

              And he’s been tremendously successful.

              “Trump will do well with those registered Democrats. He will be beholden to them if he wins.”

              If he keeps his position now (and wins) he won’t have to change a thing.

    2. Does the President write laws?

      1. For the last seventy or so years, yes.

    3. But Ken, it looks like the choice is: do you trust Hillary more on the Second Amendment? I don’t.

      1. Whether I trust Hillary on gun rights isn’t a question at all.

        The question isn’t which one to trust. The question is why we should trust either one of them.

        If you’re gonna vote for Trump because you think he’s going to protect your gun rights, be prepared.

        He’s gonna cheat on you with your worst enemies and tell you not to hate the player–hate the game.

  12. Yet another list of reasons why I’m okay with Trump. He has a higher likelihood of impeachment than anyone else in quite a while. I’m all for reminding the public that impeachment isn’t the end of the world and is a valid way to handle presidents that shit on the Constitution.

    1. Would vice-president Christie be impeached at the same time, or later on?

  13. So is this author retarded, or what?

  14. Trump can not make America great again. Trump is a billionaire because he has mastered crony capitalism, not free market capitalism.

    Trump wants his own version of big government.

    Trump says anything that is beneficial to his goals at the moment in time that he says it. Which means what he says will always be changing to fit his current wants and needs.

    Trump’s next book should be titled “The Art of BS.”

    We can not have a thin-skinned, hot headed, narcissistic, egomaniac in charge of our military, foreign policy and nuclear codes.

    Choose limited federal government. Stop making millionaires out of our politicians and lobbyists. Stop increasing the power of connected corporations.

    1. We can not have a thin-skinned, hot headed, narcissistic, egomaniac in charge of our military, foreign policy and nuclear codes.

      We already do

  15. Trump’s embrace of boundless eminent domain powers for the government and Trump’s own shameful record of seeking to personally profit when government officials seize homes and businesses and then hand the bulldozed land over to crony capitalist real estate developers?

    I don’t blame him for that, because it’s what you have to do to be Donald Trump. It’s the “landscape” he’s dealing with. Large developments in cities now usually involve eminent domain or the threat or at least the option of it. If it weren’t Trump it’d be another “Trump”. If Trump were to eschew benefiting from the condemnation power, he’d lose business to someone who doesn’t. He didn’t make the world like that.

  16. Donald Trump is an idiot, but so are some of these arguments. Let’s consider:
    “That stance manages to offend multiple constitutional principles in a single bound, including such bedrock concepts as religious liberty, due process, and equal protection.”
    Actually, this is completely false. Non-legal residents are not entitled to the same due process rights as American citizens or legal residents. That’s because we get to determine, entirely and for any reason, who may enter the US and under what conditions and restrictions. Ditto “equal protection.” There is no question of religious liberty at stake either, and for the same reason. I’d suggest you’re almost as oblivious of the constitution as Donald Trump, and that’s pretty freaking sad, because he’s clueless. Lastly, Islam is not merely a religion but also a political, social and legal doctrine. Were there some constitutional restriction against limiting entry based on religion(but there’s not,) Islam encompasses far more than merely a religious doctrine. Until very recently, we had bans on immigration of Communists, Nazis, and other “undesirable” political affiliations, and as far as I know, the structure against Nazi Party members(current and former) is still in force. Simply because you’re a radical supporter of open borders(a notion wholly incompatible with those of the framers of our constitution,) you don’t gain the privilege of pretending the constitution says anything like you’ve expressed in the paragraph above.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.