President-elect Donald Trump has been attacking the First Amendment for days via his Twitter account. If Trump acts on his stated feelings about free speech, he will violate his oath of office, and there is a school of Constitutional thought that believes that such a violation would be an impeachable offense.
Trump latest broadside at First Amendment came on Tuesday:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
Since winning the election, Trump has also attacked journalists, the musical Hamilton, and a piece of satire about him on Saturday Night Live. There is a clear pattern of anti-First Amendment behavior being established by the president-elect.
The problem is that if Trump attacks the First Amendment, he will be failing to uphold his oath of office. Should the next president fail to uphold his oath of office, it could constitute an impeachable offense.
According to FindLaw, “The fourth view is that an indictable crime is not required, but that the impeachable act or acts done by the President must in some way relate to his official duties. The bad act may or may not be a crime but it would be more serious than simply “maldministration.” This view is buttresses in part by an analysis of the entire phrase “high crimes or misdemeanors” which seems to be a term of art speaking to a political connection for the bad act or acts. In order to impeach it would not be necessary for the act to be a crime, but not all crimes would be impeachable offenses.”
It is an interesting theory. Being that Republicans will be in complete control of Congress for at least the next two years, one that is not likely to happen right away. However, given the fractures within the Republican Party, and the fact that Republicans aren’t warm on Trump, to begin with, it seems like a matter of when, not if, Republican infighting takes over the Legislative and Executive Branches of the government.
A president who has demonstrated a view of executive power that has no limitations is on course with a legislative branch that is very skeptical of expanded executive power. Once the honeymoon ends for Republicans, if Trump dares to challenge Constitutionally protected rights, he may find himself dancing with impeachment.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association