Assaults on Civil Liberties
Few American values are more important than protection of civil liberties and civil rights. These are not quite the same. Both "rights" and "liberties" appear in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Though they are sometimes used interchangeably, and sometimes the areas between them blur, they refer to different kinds of guaranteed protections.
Civil liberties offer protections against government actions. The First Amendment guarantees, among other things, that U.S. citizens may practice whatever religion they please. Government cannot interfere in an individual's freedom of worship. Amendment I gives the individual "liberty" from the actions of the government. Civil rights are positive actions of government takes to create equal conditions for all Americans.
This page focuses on actions and statements of Trump and his administration that threaten civil liberties.
|2015.12.08||Trump says he might have supported Japanese Internment if he was alive at the time. time.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Asian Americans, Fascism)|
|2016.02.26||Trump: We're going to "open up" libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists. politico.com (See also Feuds, Attempts to Discredit Media)|
|2016.07.15||The ACLU publishes a 27 page long list of all of the things Trump has proposed which are unconstitutional. action.aclu.org|
|2016.11.29||Trump tweets that people who burn the American flag should go to jail or lose citizenship, violating well-established First Amendment protections. twitter.com (See also Presidential Transition)|
|2017.02.01||Trump vows to "destroy" decades-old law that prevents tax-exempt churches from engaging in political activity. nytimes.com|
|2017.02.03||Atlanta-based Morehouse College professor sets off threats after posting political essay, calling support of Trump unAmerican. ajc.com|
|2017.02.03||Trump falsely claims protestors are paid "professional anarchists." nymag.com (See also Assaults on Facts, Attempts to Discredit Media, First 100 Days)|
|2017.02.06||Activists angry they weren’t allowed to protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban inside Denver International Airport last month have asked a U.S. District Court judge to declare the city’s regulation requiring protesters get a permit in advance unconstitutional. denverpost.com (See also First 100 Days, First Amendment, Muslim Immigration Ban)|
|2017.02.06||Trump spokesman Sean Spicer falsely claims anti-Trump protests are part of a "very paid, Astroturf-type movement." washingtonpost.com (See also Assaults on Facts, Sean Spicer)|
|2017.02.08||ACLU vows to sue Sessions if he violates Constitution as attorney general. thehill.com (See also First 100 Days, Jeff Sessions, Department of Justice)|
|2017.02.08||In an extraordinarily rare move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell interrupts Warren's speech, saying she breached Senate rules by reading past statements against Sessions from the late senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and the late Coretta Scott King. washingtonpost.com (See also First 100 Days, Jeff Sessions, Assaults on Government)|
Warren will be unable to take the floor for the duration of the Jeff Sessions debate.
|2017.02.08||Trump and top aides are positioning themselves to seize more power in the event of a terrorist attack by highlighting a nonexistent threat: jihadist refugees and immigrants. newyorker.com|
|2017.02.10||FBI representatives have contacted several "water protectors", raising alarm that an indigenous-led movement is being construed as domestic terrorism. theguardian.com (See also Dakota Access Pipeline, FBI, Native Americans)|
|2017.04.06||Twitter files lawsuit after the The Department of Homeland Security demands they reveal the identity of several Twitter accounts posting information critical of Trump. variety.com (See also Fascism, First 100 Days, John Kelly, Department of Homeland Security)|
|2017.07.19||The US Justice Department rolled out a new policy that allows the government to seize more possessions and money under federal authority, in some cases circumventing state or local laws, even when a person has not been charged or convicted of a crime. buzzfeed.com (See also Jeff Sessions, Department of Justice)|
|2017.07.27||The Justice Department, intervening in an important private employment case, urged a federal appeals court to rule that civil rights law does not bar job discrimination based on sexual orientation. washingtonpost.com (See also Department of Justice, LGBTQIA, Legal Activity)|
|2017.08.14||Web hoster DreamHost says it has been asked to hand over to the Justice Department more than 1.3 million IP addresses on visitors to a site that helped organize anti-Trump protests earlier this year. forbes.com (See also Department of Justice, Fascism)|
|Trump threatens to cut federal funds to UC Berkeley. sfchronicle.com (See also Unprecedented Actions, Feuds)|
Within the first two weeks of Trump's presidency, he and his administration demonstrated low tolerance for dissent in and outside of the government. He fired the acting attorney general who would not defend his controversial immigration order. Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, told career diplomats to “either get with the program or they can go.” His chief strategist, the white nationalist Steve Bannon, also labeled the news media as an “opposition party” that should “keep its mouth shut.”
Civil libertarians are alarmed. “The whole thing is scary," David Boaz of the Cato Institute told the Washington Post. "They have no appreciation for the Constitution, much less the unwritten norms of liberal democracy.” (Source: Washington Post)