5 Places Donald Trump Doesn't Agree With Our Constitution

October 14th 2016

Thor Benson

"I feel very strongly about our Constitution," Donald Trump told Fox News in January. "I'm proud of it, I love it, and I want to go through the Constitution."

It must be a love/hate relationship that the Republican presidential nominee has with the Constitution of the United States, because many of his plans and statements would violate many of its most important amendments.

trump constitution

"It would take more time than I can spare today to list all the provisions of the Constitution, and all the principles underlying it, that contradict Trump's various pronouncements about what he wants to do," Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, told ATTN: in an email.

"It's hard to remember any mainstream candidate showing as much disregard for the Constitution as Donald Trump," Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told ATTN:. "It's nothing short of alarming. His threats to reporters, his efforts to silence his critics, his threats to make religious discrimination key to immigration: It's a long list of constitutional horrors coming from Donald Trump."

Donald Trump has been compared to President Richard Nixon, and there may be one more reason to make that comparison. "He's threatening to prosecute [Democratic nominee] Hillary Clinton" if he wins the presidency, Winkler said. "Interference with the attorney general and prosecutorial decisions was one of the offenses for which Richard Nixon was impeached."

Winkler worried that would be major constitutional problems if Trump wins the presidency.

"If he gets elected, he's going to have a tremendous amount of political power, because if he gets elected, it's likely the Republicans will not only hold the House but likely win the Senate, too, and if that's the case, he's going to have tremendous authority to push his plans," Winkler said. "The American people will not be able to rely on Congress to check the president."

Trump would be able to use his power with Congress to create laws that render moot the constitutionality of his plans, at least for some time, Winkler added.

"If Trump wins, he will also get to confirm the Supreme Court, so I think Trump would be an immensely powerful president," Winkler said.

Here are the top constitutional amendments that Trump would violate.

first amendment

The First Amendment

Trump's distaste for the First Amendment may be his most well-documented. For the first time in history, the Committee to Protect Journalists labeled a presidential candidate — Trump — a threat to press freedom because of his statements against the press.

Trump has banned media outlets he doesn't like from his events, which is unprecedented. Trump also said he'd like to "open up" libel laws so that more media outlets can be sued by people who don't like what a publication is printing. Keep in mind the press is the only industry specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

privacy surveillance

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment prevents "unreasonable searches and seizures," but Trump seems to believe attempting to find terrorists is more important than people having control over the most intimate details of their lives.

Privacy is a huge issue in an age where social media, cell phones, and computers hold our most sensitive information. But Trump has repeatedly spoken in favor of the Patriot Act, which has been used to spy on millions of American citizens. He has also called for the surveilling of mosques.

eminent domain

The Fifth Amendment

Most Americans think of this amendment when people "plead the Fifth": that is, when they invoke their constitutional right against self-incrimination.

But the Fifth Amendment also bars the improper use of eminent domain, under which a government can seize private property.

"Trump has a long record of seeking to personally profit from eminent domain abuse," Reason Magazine reported last year. The magazine has documented many cases in which Trump supported taking private property with government help for his own benefit.


The Eighth Amendment

This amendment protects Americans from cruel and unusual punishment.

But Trump is a big fan of torture. For starters, Trump has said we should be waterboarding people, using a method of "enhanced interrogation" that has been labeled torture by critics. And there's more. "We're going to have to do things that are unthinkable almost," Trump said in June when asked about torture.

Trump has also called for the United States to kill the families of terrorists, which is not only against many international treaties, it's also a massive violation of the Eighth Amendment.

statue of liberty

The 14th Amendment

There are other amendments with which Trump disagrees, but we'll end with this one, which requires the government to provide citizens "equal protection of the laws."

Trump has said that Muslims will be banned from entering the country in violation of this amendment. He's tried to walk back this statement, but it's unclear whom he is trying to ban at this point or if he is still in favor of banning people at all.

Trump also ran afoul of the 14th Amendment when he said he would deport children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrant parents.

Trump just can't get along with the Constitution.

Let's just hope he doesn't get a chance to appoint Supreme Court justices who would interpret our most beloved document in the way he would.