The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a 28-page report Friday arguing most of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s governing agenda is unconstitutional, and promises to keep a running tally of all Trump’s policy goals that run afoul of the Constitution.
Titled “The Trump Memos,” the analysis encompasses the New York billionaire’s proposals on immigration, torture, libel, abortion, and government surveillance. It effectively serves as a blueprint for the legal arguments the ACLU would marshall when challenging Trump’s initiatives if elected president.
“Donald Trump’s proposed policies, if carried out, would trigger a constitutional crisis,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero wrote Wednesday in the Washington Post. “By our reckoning, a Trump administration would violate the First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth amendments if it tried to implement his most controversial plans.” (RELATED: Former ACLU Prez: Targeting Global Warming Skeptics Is ‘Pure Harassment’)
“But we need to be prepared because the very freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution could come under a sustained attack by a President Trump in the Oval Office,” he continued. “If that day comes, make no mistake: We’ll be seeing him in court.”
From the report:
“Massive immigration enforcement would erode civil liberties of undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens alike by leading to a systematic reliance on racial profiling and illegal detentions. Such a campaign would result in rampant Fourth Amendment and Equal Protection violations.”
“To carry out his mass deportation scheme, Trump would have to cast his net far deeper into American communities. Even if massive taxpayer dollars could be diverted to do so as a practical matter, the effort would erode the civil liberties of all.”
“The prohibition against torture is one of the most fundamental and established principles of the U.S. legal system, dating back to the English Bill of Rights of 1689. For more than three centuries, AngloAmerican jurisprudence has rejected the use of torture and cruelty as a means of extracting information or of inflicting punishment.”
“Torture violates both the Fifth and Eighth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause bars treatment that ‘shocks the conscience,’ including interrogation by torture.”
“And the infliction of torture as punishment violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment” and has been prohibited since the 19th century.”
“Even assuming that the president had the authority to “open up our libel laws” by encouraging broader state law restrictions on defamatory speech or persuading Congress to pass a federal libel statute, such laws would still be constrained by the First Amendment, which protects, among other things, the freedoms of speech and of the press.”
“Although anti-abortion advocates have repeatedly attempted to overturn Roe in the courts, in Congress, and in the state legislatures, these efforts have failed. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court rejected calls to overturn Roe and instead reaffirmed a woman’s constitutional right to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy. Proclaiming that ‘[l]iberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt,’ Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter — all of whom were appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — held in their joint opinion for the court that the right to choose is ‘central’ both to women’s ‘personal dignity and autonomy’ and to their ability ‘to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation.’”
An evaluation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is forthcoming.
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