Donald Trump is a lot of things; a fan of the Constitution isn’t one of them. Throughout his relatively short time as president Donald Trump has verbally assaulted no less than five amendments. Most of these have come in the form of an ill-conceived tweet and haven’t actually led to any policy changes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the man sitting in the Oval Office has a total disregard for the founding charter of our national government.
The amendment that the president seems to have the most trouble with is the First. This is quite odd considering he is the type of person that benefits from the right to express oneself. In November of 2016, Donald Trump stated that flag burning should be illegal and that offenders should either lose their citizenship or serve jail time. In this statement Trump showed a disregard for not only the First Amendment but most likely the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments as well. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. Johnson that flag burning was protected speech under the First Amendment. The decision in Afroyim v. Rusk found that it was unconstitutional to involuntarily strip a person of their citizenship as it is a violation of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. With Troy v. Dulles, the Supreme Court found that stripping a person’s citizenship as a form of punishment was cruel and unusual, and therefore a violation of the Eighth Amendment. In one tweet Donald Trump showed his urge to violate three amendments. In a later tweet, the president stated that the NFL should lose its tax breaks because it allows its players to kneel during the national anthem. According to constitutional scholar Eugene Volokh, this type of retaliation would violate the First Amendment. The President seems to struggle with the concept of freedom of the press as well, as he has tweeted that he would like to take away press credentials for organizations that give him negative coverage. These tweets show a pattern of complete disregard for our constitutional amendments.
President Trump’s disrespect for the Constitution goes even further and gets even more insidious. He has gone so far as to pardon authorities that violated the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. Sheriff Joe Arpaio was found guilty of violating the Fourth Amendment through racial profiling and unlawful searches and seizures. It’s extremely dangerous for the president of the United States to pardon someone of such crimes and to normalize this behavior. The president should uphold the Constitution and seek to remove those that violate it, not pardon them or reward them.
Recent amendments to come under fire by the president are the Second and Fifth Amendments. After the Parkland shootings, the president stated that he would like to “take the guns first, go through due process second”. What he’s saying is that he would like to waive due process, which would violate the Fifth Amendment, and take people’s guns away without a conviction of any crime. Taking someone’s firearms away without any due process would be stripping them of their Second Amendment rights. This is an especially interesting thing to hear from a Republican president, considering the importance Republicans place on the Second Amendment, it further proves the total disregard this president has for the Constitution. When even the Second Amendment isn’t sacred to a Republican president, there’s something very troubling going on.
The president’s defenders may say that his words are harmless, that they are only words and not policies. This is a very shortsighted way of thinking. President Trump’s words show his intent, that if he had his way he would ignore amendments that he doesn’t agree with. It also sets a dangerous precedent and trend. Trump supporters have shown some alarming views when it comes to the First Amendment. A Pew Research study found a rather low percentage of Trump supporters who believe that the press should be able to criticize leaders and that people should have the right to non-violent protest. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are important parts of the First Amendment. These views show an erosion of respect for our freedoms and constitutional rights. The president’s disdain for freedoms seem to have been adopted by his followers.
The President’s oath of office states that he will defend the Constitution, not dismiss it. Gone are the days of the “Constitutional conservative”, the term has lost any meaning in the era of President Trump. Today’s Republican party is about political strongmen and culture wars instead of limited government and individual liberties. Let us hope that future administrations find more importance in our founding documents than the current one does.
If a Martian social scientist were to visit America, he surely would assume that Black History Month had been concocted by racists. And he'd be right -- for a racist qua racist need not bear ill will toward a particular group. What makes someone a racist is the very...