What’s the real danger to the First Amendment? Trump! the New York Times shouts in its Saturday lead.
Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak gathered up opinions from left and right for “Trump Declarations Seen As Threat to Rule of Law — Scholars Finds Disregard for Constitutional Rights in Remarks That Raise Alarm.” Yet after going after Trump in its lead story for disrespecting the First Amendment, another story on Saturday’s front page dismissed the recent violent attacks on the First Amendment rights of Trump supporters to peaceably assemble.
Donald J. Trump’s blustery attacks on the press, complaints about the judicial system and bold claims of presidential power collectively sketch out a constitutional worldview that shows contempt for the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the rule of law, legal experts across the political spectrum say.
Even as much of the Republican political establishment lines up behind its presumptive nominee, many conservative and libertarian legal scholars warn that electing Mr. Trump is a recipe for a constitutional crisis.
Yet given that Trump’s likely Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton wants the Supreme Court’s Citizens Uniteddecision in support of free political speech for all overturned, perhaps there’s not just one candidate in the race who “disregards constitutional rights” like the First Amendment. In 2010’s Citizens United vs. FEC, the Court lifted the ban on independent political expenditures by corporations and unions, ruling the spending was protected by the First Amendment, to the dismay of Democrats and the New York Times. (President Obama also classlessly attacked the Supreme Court over its decision as they sat before him during a State of the Union Address.)
The libertarian Cato Institute earned a rare trip into the NYT’s good graces as it attacked the Republican nominee.
“Who knows what Donald Trump with a pen and phone would do?” asked Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the libertarian Cato Institute.
With five months to go before Election Day, Mr. Trump has already said he would “loosen” libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations. He has threatened to sic federal regulators on his critics. He has encouraged rough treatment of demonstrators.
His proposal to bar Muslims from entry into the country tests the Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom, due process and equal protection.