ACLU Gears Up to Fight in Court Anticipated “Unconstitutional Acts” by a President Trump

Monday, July 18, 2016
Newspaper mock-up envisions Trump presidency (photo: Twitter)

By Bianca Bruno, Courthouse News Service


(CN) — The ACLU on Thursday released a blistering 27-page memo detailing the "unconstitutional acts" Donald Trump has said he will implement if elected president, and said it will fight them in court if necessary.


"The Trump Memos — The ACLU's Constitutional Analysis of the Public Statements and Policy Proposals of Donald Trump," breaks down the candidate's views into six categories: immigration, torture, libel, mass surveillance, abortion, and "Surveillance of Muslims and the Creation of a Muslim Database."


The first half of the memo is devoted to Trump's stance on Muslims and immigration.


Trump's proposal to ban Muslims and create a "Muslim Database" and his "commitment" to deport an estimated 11 million Mexicans and build a wall on the Mexican border would require arresting 15,000 people a day for a year, which would almost surely violate due process, "violate the Constitution, federal statutory law and/ or international law," according to the report.


The ban on Muslims entering the country, either as tourists or immigrants, recalls racially exclusionary laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which the ACLU said "would not pass constitutional muster today."


The United States has never had an immigration ban based on religion, which the ACLU says "reflects the priority of religious neutrality since the nation's founding."


Public comments about creating a "deportation force" indicate Trump wants to create another immigration enforcement agency besides the Border Patrol, now known as Customs and Border Enforcement, the ACLU says.


But in a jab at President Barack Obama, the ACLU says a "draconian deportation force is nothing new or remarkable," given the record 2.5 million deportations under the Obama administration.


The ACLU says mass deportations will require systemic racial profiling and illegal detentions, violating the civil rights of U.S. citizens as well as the undocumented.


Because undocumented people are not "readily identifiable" and are typically deported only after coming into contact with authorities, Trump would have to cast a "wide net" deeper into U.S. communities, the ACLU says.


Profiling American Muslims and Muslim communities, including mosques, is a failed New York City Police Department policy implemented after Sept. 11, 2001, which is "presumptively invalid," the ACLU says. The NYPD dropped the policy after it was challenged in court.


Trump's public advocacy of waterboarding and other forms of torture "beyond waterboarding" are banned under U.S. and international law, the ACLU says.


It challenges his promise to "open up" libel laws to "win money" from unfriendly news outlets, pointing out that there is no federal law of libel, which falls under state law.


Trump's declaration that there must be "punishment" for women who seek abortion, and the doctors who perform them, "disregard the law and women's lives," the ACLU says.


In a Wednesday opinion article published in The Washington Post, ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said Trump's stands on all these issues would violate the First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights of U.S. citizens and residents.


Romero said the ACLU has never opposed or supported any candidate for office in its 96 years, and is "not going to start with Donald Trump."


But Romero says it's the ACLU's "job" to "muster all the legal arguments we can to derail and deter the presumptive Republican nominee's patently anti-civil liberties proposals should he become our nation's 45th president."


He added: "Our institutions — particularly our courts — are stronger than the will of one man. 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. If that day comes, make no mistake: We'll be seeing him in court."


The ACLU said that a similar review of Hillary Clinton's proposals will be "forthcoming."


To Learn More:

The Trump Memos: The ACLU's Constitutional Analysis of the Public Statements and Policy Proposals of Donald Trump (ACLU) (pdf)

Trump and Cruz Want Muslim Neighborhoods in U.S. “Patrolled and Secured” by Law Enforcement (by Vivian Salama and Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press)

Conservatives Decide Trump Qualifies as a Fascist (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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