by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
On January 20, 2017, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office to the 45th president: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Donald Trump is utterly unqualified to keep this solemn pledge to our most fundamental law. We know this because in winning the nomination, Trump has already promised that he will knowingly break the law and violate the Constitution.
Free speech? He will “open up the libel laws” to allow public officials to sue the media, and use the Federal Communications Commission to fine critics. Private property? To Trump, eminent domain is a “wonderful thing” and is not actually “taking property” because the owner can move “two blocks away.” Faithfully executing the law? His harebrained scheme to make Mexico pay for the border wall ignores the clear text of a statute and unilaterally prohibits foreign commerce. Serving as commander in chief? Trump has already pledged that he would violate international treaties and domestic law. The military “won’t refuse” his illegal orders. “Believe me,” he promised. Protecting our national security? Trump has lauded FDR’s internment of Japanese Americans, one of the darkest hours in the history of our Republic. And what about the Supreme Court? Assuming he keeps his promise to appoint conservative jurists — and that this promise is not merely a negotiating tactic — Trump’s approach would likely mirror that of George W. Bush: appoint justices who will defer to bold assertions of federal power. Judicial minimalist, thy name is John Roberts.
These are the unconstitutional things Trump has told us he will do. I shudder to think of the trump cards the boardwalk emperor is holding close to his vest. For Trump, courts are merely a venue to silence critics, seize property, and evade creditors through bankruptcy protections.