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.