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Donald Trump vs. The Rule of Law

By       Message Marjorie Cohn       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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One of the most sacred duties of the president of the United States is to enforce the laws. The Take Care Clause, in Article II, 3 of the Constitution, says the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

Yet, six months after taking office, Donald Trump has demonstrated contempt for the rule of law. He has not only refused to enforce certain laws; he has become a serial lawbreaker himself and counseled others to violate the law.

Trump is undermining Obamacare, which is currently the law of the land. He is advocating police brutality. Plus, he has illegally bombed Syria, killed large numbers of civilians in Iraq and Syria, instituted an unconstitutional Muslim Ban, violated the Emoluments Clause and obstructed justice.

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Each of these actions either violate, or indicate an intention to violate, the law.

Sabotaging the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as "Obamacare," is a federal statute that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Yet, instead of vigorously enforcing it, Trump has, on several occasions, announced his intention to let the law "fail" or "implode."

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He has threatened to withhold cost-sharing reduction payments that reduce what individuals must pay for copayments, deductibles and insurance. He has curtailed outreach, pulled $5 million in advertising that encouraged individuals to sign up for health care under the ACA, and even promulgated negative ads. He has proposed reducing the ACA's tax credits, which offset premium costs for middle-income individuals; this reduction would make insurance plans more expensive and raise deductibles and co-payments. And he has moved to weaken the individual mandate by lifting the requirement that taxpayers report to the Internal Revenue Service whether they have health insurance.

"Trump is not talking about letting the patient die," wrote Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, on Truthout. "He is talking about murder. Trump and the Republicans are not discussing whether they should let Obamacare die. They are plotting to kill it."

Rather than faithfully executing the ACA, Trump is doing his best to destroy it.

Advocating Police Brutality

Last week, Trump suggested that police officers effectuating arrests should bang suspects' heads against police car doors. Trump told officers, "Please don't be too nice" when arresting people.

He elaborated, "Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over" their head, "I said, 'You can take the hand away, OK?'"

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In response to Trump's comments, New York police commissioner James O'Neill stated, "To suggest that police officers apply any standard in the use of force other than what is reasonable and necessary is irresponsible, unprofessional and sends the wrong message to law enforcement, as well as the public."

Indeed, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits police officers from using unreasonable force. Trump was advising officers to violate the law.

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Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. An updated edition of her book, "Drones and (more...)

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