Election 2020 #10

President Trump and the Constitution

Let’s start at the beginning. President Trump says, “Article II allows me to do whatever I want.”

Oh Really? I assume that the President is referring to Article II of the Constitution.

The Constitution has a Title, a Preamble, 7 Articles, and 27 Amendments. Article I defines the powers and responsibilities of the Legislative branch of the Federal Government (Congress). Article II defines the powers and responsibilities of the Administrative branch (the President). Article III defines the powers and responsibilities of the Judicial branch (the Courts, including the Supreme Court).[1]

Article I is 51.8% of the Constitution. Article II is 23.2% of the Constitution. Article III is 8.7% of the Constitution. Clearly, the Framers of the Constitution had a lot more to say about the Congress than about the other 2 branches. These percentages hint at the relative importance of each of the branches, but they are not proof.[2] For a greater level of certainty, one must actually read and analyze the document.

Article II gives the President a lot of discretion regarding the administration of the law, but it is the members of Congress who make that law. It is the Courts who make sure that any contested law is in keeping with the existing body of law and is being properly applied. In addition to a level of authority, Article II gives the President responsibilities and restrictions. Mr. Trump has shown little interest in either of those.

The Amendments mean even less to the President than the body of the Constitution does. He openly ignores some amendments and calls for the repeal of others.[3] Mr. Trump seems to take particular pleasure in violating the First Amendment.

The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

From a ban on members of the second largest religion in the world to calling the Press “enemies of the people“, President Trump has made it obvious that he has no respect for the first amendment. On June 1, 2020, his administration managed to infringe on all four freedoms guaranteed by the 1st Amendment in a single episode. Under orders from Attorney General William Barr, police turned riot control tactics against peaceful protesters and reporters in Lafayette Park. Their goal was to clear the way for President Trump … and his entourage … to walk to St. John’s Church, where the President used the Bible as a prop for a photo op.

In order, this action violated the rights to freedom of speech and to peaceably assemble, freedom of the Press …, and made a mockery of religion.

The Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In July, 2020, people dressed in camouflage gear and carrying weapons began to appear in Portland, Oregon. Their clothing carried no more identification than “Police” and they drove unmarked vans. They clashed with protesters, wounding some and forcing others into their vans without explanation. They seemed unconcerned with the restrictions imposed by the Fourth Amendment. Initially, the protesters, and the public in general, did not know whether they were a legitimate police force, a vigilante militia posing as police, or some militarized equivalent of the mysterious “Men in Black” of UFO fame.

It turned out that these mysterious and threatening people were members of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Marshal Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Federal Protection Service.[4] President Trump had sent them,  ostensibly to protect federal property.

The Tenth Amendment states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Of course, the President believes himself to be all powerful … the mindset of a despot.

So far, we’ve seen that President Trump ignores about 52% of the body of the Constitution and 30% of the Bill of Rights. Perhaps he will do better with the other 17 Amendments.

The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1 states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

President Trump really hates the words, “All persons born … in the United States … are citizens of the United States.” Those words describe the “birthright citizenship” that he has threatened to do away with by executive order[5] in many speeches and tweets.

Those of us who are familiar with the Constitution have to wonder to what Donald Trump attributes his own citizenship and that of his children. The Constitution and its Amendments provide only three ways to become a citizen. You are a citizen of the United States of America if:

  1. You lived within the original 13 states at the time the Constitution was ratified.[6]
     
  2. You were born in one of the United States since the ratification of the Constitution.
     
  3. You have met the requirements of and have been granted naturalized citizenship.

Various acts of Congress have added the U.S. territories to the states as locations that provide birthright citizenship.[7] Those born outside the United States who have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen are “usually” considered to be birthright citizens by parentage.

Most U.S. citizens reading this article are birthright citizens … as are Donald Trump, his children, and his grandchildren.

The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments are often called the Reconstruction Amendments. The Thirteenth abolished slavery. The Fourteenth granted citizenship to the former slaves … and anyone else born in the United States. The Fifteenth Amendment, Section 1 states:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.[8]

Those who oppose the most basic concepts of democracy have been looking for ways to circumvent this Amendment almost from the moment of its ratification. From literacy tests to poll taxes to gerrymandering to outright voter intimidation, those who would subvert the collective will of the electorate have been hard at work. President Trump’s opposition to mail-in voting[9] is his most obvious contribution to this “tradition”.

Section 1 of the Twentieth Amendment states:

The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Donald Trump fears January 20, 2021 for three reasons:

  1. Regardless of his fear-mongering, intimidation, and outright cheating, it is increasingly unlikely that he will have a second term. Too many of us have realized that the horrors he predicts already exist and are of his creation. He is running against his own Administration.
     
  2. He has a pathological fear of being seen to be a loser … because, deep down, he knows that is exactly what he is.
     
  3. If/when he is not President, he will no longer be protected from federal criminal prosecution nor will he have an Attorney General who is willing to lie for him.[10]

Section 1 of the Twenty-second Amendment sets the Presidential term limit:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

On many occasions, President Trump has “joked” about ignoring this amendment too. He has even gone so far as to say that “President for Life” might be something worth “giving a shot someday”.

Does that sound funny to you? Do you really believe that he’s joking?

President Trump does NOT believe in democracy.

He does not believe in anything beyond acquiring as much attention, power, and wealth as he can. His only real skills are bragging, lying, and promoting conspiracy theories.

As a businessman, he inherited a fortune from his father, wasted a lot of it, and declared bankruptcy 6 times. As an author, he claims credit for a book written by someone else. As a TV host/co-producer, he turned a mildly entertaining reality show, “The Apprentice” into “Celebrity Apprentice”, a showcase for “has-been”, “wannabe”, and “B-grade” celebrities. As a citizen, took out a full-page ad calling for the execution of the Central Park 5 and continued to preach their guilt even after they had been exonerated based on DNA evidence. He was the dominate spokesman for the “Birtherism” conspiracy against our 44th President who was born in the state of Hawaii on August 4, 1961 to a mother born in Wichita, Kansas.

This was all public knowledge before he announced his candidacy for President.

As President, he signed a tax-cut that was designed to help corporations and the super-rich much more than the average citizen. He became the third impeached president in more than 230 tears.[11] By calling the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax and either ignoring it or spreading wildly inaccurate and often dangerous conspiracy theories, he has led us into economic collapse, educational disaster, social unrest, and the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans … tens of thousands who could have been saved. He claims to support and respect the military in public while calling them “losers and suckers” in private.

Donald J. Trump is not fit to be President!

Maybe he should consider Historian as his next career.

On second thought, maybe he should try 4th grade history student.
 
 
 

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End Notes
  1. Article IV defines the relationship of the States to each other and to the Federal Government. Article V defines the process for proposing and the requirements for passing and ratifying amendments to the Constitution. Article VI promises that the United States will honor the commitments made by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, defines the primacy of Federal law over state laws, and forbids any religious requirements for holding any governmental office. Article VII defines what is required for the Constitution to be ratified.
     
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  2. Of course, if Article II literally said, “The President can do whatever he wants,” it would be only 0.3% of the Constitution.
     
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  3. President Trump does not seem to understand that neither a Law passed by Congress nor an Executive Order signed by an authoritarian President can eliminate an Amendment to the Constitution. Only a new amendment can do that. Amending the Constitution is a complicated process defined in Article V of that document.
     
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  4. Which Oregon border were they protecting … the one with Washington, the one with Idaho, the one with Nevada, or the one with California? Maybe Mr. Trump believes that Oregon borders Mexico. After all, he has claimed to be building a wall on the Colorado border.
     
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  5. An executive order cannot change any part of the Constitution nor any of its Amendments, of course. 
     
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  6. President Trump may be the oldest person ever elected to a first term (so far), but he is not that old.
     
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  7. Ironically, the indigenous peoples of the United States were not granted citizenship until the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Perhaps the President and his family believe that law to be the source of their citizenship. Maybe Senator Elizabeth Warren should start calling him Sitting Bull. At least, she’d be half right.
     
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  8. At the time of its passage, the 15th Amendment applied only to men who were 21 years old or older. Women of any “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” would have to wait for the 19th Amendment, Indigenous Americans of either gender would have to wait for the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, and 18 year-olds would have to wait for the 26th Amendment.
     
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  9. The President’s attacks on mail-in voting bury the needle on the hypocrisy meter. The President, the First Lady, his daughter, his son-in-law, and many members of his Administration vote by mail. Mr. Trump says that there’s a difference between absentee voting and mail-in voting, but never defines that difference … because there is no difference. As shown in Election 2020 #9, there is no evidence linking mail-in or early voting to wide-spread voter fraud.
     
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  10. The main reason Trump is currently safe from Federal prosecution is a long-standing Justice Department opinion that a sitting President should not be investigated or indicted. Even a president remains subject to state prosecution, but Trump has found an Attorney General who seems more than willing to be his “fixer”.
     
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  11. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump
     
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