Donald Trump Calls for Ban on Muslim Entry Into US

(Wall Street Journal, Dec. 8, 2015) Donald Trump evoked outrage from across the political spectrum Monday by calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S., a proposal that taps into voter anxiety about the recent spate of terrorist attacks yet likely runs afoul of religious freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.

“Aside from being outrageous, it would be unconstitutional.”

“It is obvious to anybody the hatred [among Muslims] is beyond comprehension,” Mr. Trump said. “Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

His campaign said he would keep the ban intact “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” including the facts around the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., last week. Syed Rizwan Farook, a U.S. citizen, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, a legal immigrant who had a green card, were killed in a shootout with the police after the massacre.

In an interview on Fox News, Mr. Trump said he would ease the ban in the case of Muslims serving in the U.S. military and allow them to return home.

Mr. Trump’s proposal, which many legal scholars deemed unconstitutional, was immediately attacked by many Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.

The announcement came the same day Mr. Trump lost ground in a poll in Iowa, and also after President Barack Obama gave a speech from the Oval Office on Sunday night in which he asked Americans to show tolerance for the Islamic faith and avoid the temptation to “turn against one another.” Mr. Obama said anti-Muslim rhetoric would be a recruitment tool for the terrorist group Islamic State.

In Trump style, the celebrity businessman refused to back down in the face of the broad criticism. It is that tenacious style that has largely kept him at the forefront of the GOP primary.

At a rally in South Carolina on Monday night, Mr. Trump drew cheers from a large crowd when he repeated his message. “It’s going to get worse and worse, folks,” he said. “You are going to have more World Trade Centers,” he added in a reference to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.

His candidacy relies on an unusual Republican coalition: blue-collar voters who are impatient with career politicians and unnerved by the direction of the country. These are voters who see him as a strong leader and aren’t worried about the nuances of his policy pronouncements.

Although establishment Republicans find his rhetoric incendiary, there also are indications that a large swath of party’s rank-and-file voters relish his tough-sounding messages and a sizable number are worried about religious extremism.

In September, a poll by the Democratic-leaning firm PPP found that 30% of Republicans think Islam should not be legal in the U.S., while 21% weren’t sure.

A Pew Research Center survey in 2014 found that Republicans take a cool view toward Muslims. Asked to rate a series of religious groups from zero to 100, with 100 reflecting the warmest feelings, Republicans gave Muslims an average rating of 33, almost equal with atheists and below all other major religions.

Legal scholars said the Constitution forbids the sort of ban Mr. Trump envisions. John Yoo, a conservative law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said the proposal is unconstitutional, pointing to First Amendment guarantees of the free exercise of religion.

“The United States cannot discriminate on the basis of religion,” Mr. Yoo said. He added that in the past, the U.S. has discriminated based on country of origin, but that is different from a wholesale religious ban.

William Banks, a constitutional law scholar at the Syracuse College of Law, agreed that Mr. Trump’s plan would not pass constitutional muster, pointing to 14th Amendment guarantees of due process under law.

“Aside from being outrageous, it would be unconstitutional,” Mr. Banks said …

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