Friday, June 24, 2016

Trump's View of the Constitution: “What Constitution — What Me Worry?”

What's Dat Dare Smoke I Smell???

I love the analysis in the fine article … I have set it up to fit the blog … it’s a terrific read.

Trump is engaging in an arguably thuggish, demagogic campaign, staking out controversial and offensive positions but most troubling of all is that he comes across as wanting to defy the Constitution (as stated below and highlighted). 

Facts: The president pledges upon taking the oath office this in part: “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”

(Note: The actual oath office — 35 words): 
“I (state full name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” 
  1. Any president is obliged to uphold the separation of powers and Bill of Rights. 
  2. Any president is in charge of the military, the intelligence community, the Justice Department, and the IRS.
  3. Any president is obligated to respect restrictions on presidential power. 

 Two applicable quotes: 
  1. President Lincoln called the Constitution “the only safeguard of our liberties.” 
  2. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter declared: “There can be no free society without law administered through an independent judiciary.  If one man can be allowed to determine … what is law [that] means first chaos, then tyranny.”
Trump arguably has challenged Constitutional principles these ways – all in his own words, not mine:

He questioned Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel and is fitness in office to even hear a civil case against Trump University, Trump has attacked the media most-recently in response to the Orlando attack.

He excoriated Judge Curiel, who was born in Indiana, as a “Mexican” whose “hostility” disqualifies him on the suit against Trump U, and he threatened, if elected, to retaliate by bringing a civil suit against Curiel.

Trump then stated he might make similar allegations about any Muslim judge in a similar case.   

Constitutional Impact: These are racial and religious bigotry and challenges to Article VI of the Constitution that has a clear prohibition against religious tests.  

Trump attacked NYS AG Eric Schneiderman, who is suing Trump University, as unfit.  

Constitutional Impact: These two attacks (Judge Curiel and AG Schneiderman) raise concerns as to whether Trump would respect the judiciary’s powers and autonomy delineated in Article III of the Constitution.  

Trump and the press – where he appears to have little regard for them and their role as outlined in the 1st Amendment, which prohibits abridging freedom … of the press.  

For example, Trump has banned several major news organizations from attending his events. 

Trump has excoriated Jeff Bezos, new Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO, for buying the Post to protect his own corporate interests.  He has threatened Bezos and the Post by warning: “if I become president, oh do they have problems.” 

Constitutional Impact: This raises the specter of a politicized Justice Department and IRS targeting them like Nixon used them in Watergate years ago.   
Trump has threatened a number of other critics. For example: 

When the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, gave $3 million to the “Never Trump Movement,” he warned them: “They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”  Thus voters were left to wonder whether Trump would retaliate, if elected.
Trump repeated controversial statements about Muslims after the Orlando ISIS-inspired terrorist attack.  Trump has said he would ban Muslim immigrants and visitors to the US, and immigration from countries wracked by terrorism. He states he may place Muslims in a national registry to be tracked, close mosques and dispense with terrorism-related warrants. 

Trump pledges to employ torture against ISIS and target family members of terrorists (Note: as I have said in other places torture of any kind is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime and has been for decades).

Constitutional Impact: Most if not all of these proposals and warning and such all challenge the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments.  They clearly defy prohibitions against unilateral suspensions of writs of habeas corpus and warrantless or unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as the right to due process and equal protection under the law.  Banning Muslim immigration may violate the 1st Amendment prohibition of laws restricting religious freedom.   

If Trump were to employ torture or target innocents in military operations, this would violate the Geneva Convention and if he sanctioned torture of any kind against alleged Jihadists or terrorist detainees in the U.S., which would clearly violate U.S. law and the Constitution specifically. 

Trump’s view of the 14th Amendment is particularly controversial.  

He denies it grants citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants born in the US.  The 14th Amendment clearly does so. 

Trump denies the right of due process for illegal immigrants.  The 14th Amendment declares “The validity of the public debt of the [US] … shall not be questioned.”  

Notwithstanding, Trump says he may reduce US debt by persuading or pressuring creditors to accept less than full payment. 

Trump notes President Obama has “led the way on executive orders,” all the while he pledges to emulate him by rescinding Obama’s executive orders, regulations, and international agreements based solely on executive branch authority of his own. 

The oath of office obligating the occupant to uphold the Constitution would appear to disqualify Trump by his own words and proposed actions.  

He demonstrably takes exception to many Constitutional tenets.  The voters must decide whether Trump’s constitutional views preclude him from becoming president by asking: “Do his words and promises matter or not?” 

If only for show – then we can catch a good movie, if not then we are headed for big trouble if Trump were to elected – it’s that simple.

No comments: