ACLU warns Donald Trump

ACLU Warns Donald Trump About Attacks On Freedom To Protest

After an Easter morning tweet from Donald Trump, the ACLU has issued a short-form warning, reminding the President of the right of all Americans to engage in peaceful protest. On Saturday, thousands rallied to demand the release of Trump’s tax returns. On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted, asking followers to consider who had paid for the rallies. The ACLU was quick to respond with a brief warning about the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

The Hill reported Saturday evening that 25,000 people had attended a protest rally in Washington, D.C., and thousands more at other locations across the nation, including Democratic lawmakers and celebrities, to call for President Donald Trump to release copies of his tax records for public viewing, as presidential candidates have traditionally done, and as he discussed during his campaign.

DOnald Trump ACLU warns
[Image by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images]

However, Donald Trump’s position on releasing these documents, which is not required by any law, has been somewhat flexible. In 2012, he simultaneously maintained that Mitt Romney’s tax returns were not a matter of public interest and that Barack Obama’s college records were, and should be released to the public.

Throughout early months of 2016, Trump said he could not release his returns due to an IRS audit and that it would be “no problem” when the audit was over.

However, stories of possible conflicts of interest have driven public concern about the content of Donald Trump’s returns, and there have been demands for the release of the documents. Rallies were scheduled for April 15, the day known as ‘tax day’ due to being the usual deadline for filing individual income taxes.

Politifact rated Donald Trump’s assertion earlier this year that only the media cared about his tax returns false, noting that a majority of Americans polled say the President should follow tradition and release the records.

On Sunday morning, however, a series of tweets from Trump appeared to indicate that he still feels the drive for him to release his tax returns is driven, not by the desire of the Americans he represents, but by media and political groups.

Trump called for someone to find out who had paid for the rallies, suggesting that they were promoted by a bigger interest, rather than any sort of grassroots organization.

“The election is over!”

Trump himself has held a number of rallies this year,

The Washington Post reported at the end of January that Donald Trump had already filed forms with the Federal Election commission for the 2020 election, though Trump noted in the paperwork that it is not an official statement of candidacy.

ACLU warns Donald Trump about preventing protest
[Image by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]

However, his Easter morning announcement caught the eye of more than just those who disagreed with Trump’s decision not to release his statements, or his comments about the scope of the rallies, or those who found the comments incongruous after Trump’s own rallies.

The ACLU also noticed the tweet and responded. The American Civil Liberties Union, which has national, state, and local chapters that aid in legal battles for citizens whose constitutional rights may have been breached, has long argued in favor of the right of citizens to protest, even issuing notices to explain protesting rights to Americans and tell them how to handle a situation in which those rights may have been violated. The organization didn’t let Donald Trump’s tweet, which didn’t directly threaten anyone’s right to protest, but could be read as an opinion against that right, from a high government office, go unchecked.

“…just a reminder that there is a constitutional right to protest.”

While Trump has previously expressed support for the right to peaceful protest, he has also called protesters thugs and criminals, dismissed protesters as people who failed to vote and suggested that political opponents have paid protesters to oppose him.

While Sunday’s warning was short-form and through a casual format, it may be the ACLU’s way of letting Donald Trump know they are watching, and that they’ll take action if he oversteps.

[Featured Image by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images]