Legal experts say Trump could weaken the First Amendment

According to legal experts, a Trump presidency could be disastrous for the First Amendment.

By Bronte Price, PoliticKING

Legal experts from all sides of the political aisle say that Donald Trump’s contempt for the First Amendment is clear based on his attacks on the press, his complaints about the judicial system and his claims of presidential power.

Many conservative and libertarian legal scholars warn that electing Trump could create a constitutional crisis, according to the New York Times. Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the libertarian Cato Institute said, “Who knows what Donald Trump with a pen and phone would do?”

Some experts take issue with the fact that Trump has said that he would “loosen” laws to make it easier to sue news organizations. His proposal to ban Muslims from entry into the country also tests the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom, due process and equal protection.

The presumptive GOP nominee also criticized the judge who is overseeing two class actions against Trump University. He accused Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of the Federal District Court in San Diego of bias, falsely saying that he was Mexican and seemed to issue a threat. “They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace,” Mr. Trump said. “O.K.? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case?”

Retired law professor, David Post, who writes for the Volokh Conspiracy, a conservative law blog, said those comments had gone too far.

“This is how authoritarianism starts, with a president who does not respect the judiciary,” Mr. Post said. “You can criticize the judicial system, you can criticize individual cases, you can criticize individual judges. But the president has to be clear that the law is the law and that he enforces the law. That is his constitutional obligation.”

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

Continue the Discussion