While Americans never have, and probably never will, agree on most things, the Constitution is the one statement on which we all agree. It sets forth what “We the People” believe, and what it actually means to be an American. Every person who serves our Country must take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and each person who becomes a new American must swear to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution. So the Constitution can tell you precisely what it means to be an American, and a good deal about what a Presidential candidate believes about America. I’ve interpreted the Constitution as a clerk for both liberal and conservative judges, including Chief Justice William Rehnquist. I’ve taught constitutional law, argued constitutional cases, served as special counsel to the President, and have always been inspired by the devotion that people of different faiths, customs, political beliefs, and backgrounds show to the Constitution. The one thing we Americans all have in common is our Constitution. So this is what I can tell about Donald Trump and the Constitution.
The first amendment guarantees that the government “shall make no law respecting religion.” This means what it says — you can’t have a law that is based on religion. America in fact was founded by people who had been persecuted for their religious beliefs and came here seeking relief from governments dictating what religion was acceptable. Donald Trump disagrees with this amendment. He advocates barring people from the United States because of their religion. On December 7, 2015, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” He further allowed that he might require the registration of all Muslims in a database and mandate special identification of Muslims.
The first amendment also guarantees that the Government can make no laws “abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” Donald Trump said on February 26, 2016, that he plans to “loosen the libel laws” in the United States so that he can sue journalists who write unflattering articles. “We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when the New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money.”
The first amendment further guarantees “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” At a public forum on November 22, 2015, supporters of Donald Trump punched and kicked a protestor who had been chanting anti-Trump slogans. Trump stated “Maybe he should have been roughed up. It was disgusting what he was doing.” After a similar incident in which a person at his rally was arrested for punching a peaceful protestor, Donald Trump said he would look into paying the attacker’s legal fees because the man “obviously loves the country.”
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