Constitutional Law

Trump's policies would be unconstitutional and will be challenged if adopted, ACLU says

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Donald Trump

Donald Trump. Photo by a katz /

The American Civil Liberties Union is vowing to file constitutional challenges to several policies of Donald Trump if he should win election and implement them.

The ACLU sees constitutional problems with Trump’s proposals on immigration, American Muslims, torture and freedom of speech. “If implemented, Donald Trump’s proposed policies will spark a constitutional and legal challenge that would require all hands on deck at the ACLU,” says ACLU executive director Anthony Romero in a press release.

The ACLU asserts in an analysis (PDF) of Trump’s proposals that:

• Trump’s call for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States would violate the establishment clause. A ban on Muslim citizens from entering the United States would violate due process and equal protection. The religious ban would also violate international law.

• Trump’s has raised the idea of a “deportation force” to round up all those who are in the United States illegally. Massive immigration enforcement, however, would erode civil liberties by leading to a systematic reliance on racial profiling and illegal detentions. Such a campaign would result in violations of the Fourth Amendment and equal protection, and would lead to a mass breakdown of due process.

• Trump has stated there needs to be profiling of Muslims, and we have to check the mosques. The statements suggest he would subject American Muslims to surveillance or registration. Such profiling would violate the First and Fifth Amendments, while a Muslim database would likely violate the Fifth Amendment, and would violate federal privacy law.

• Trump has said he loves waterboarding. Torture would violate the Fifth and Eighth Amendments, domestic law and international law.

• Trump has proposed opening up libel laws so more media outlets can be successfully sued. Such laws are constrained by the First Amendment.

• Trump has indicated he supports bulk collection of metadata, but such a dragnet collection would violate the First and Fourth Amendments of Americans.

• Trump’s call to punish doctors performing abortions—and his recanted suggestion that women who obtain abortions should be punished—would violate constitutional rights established in Roe v. Wade.

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