A Presidents' Day reflection on Donald Trump's first year in office
This Presidents' Day is a fitting time to reflect on President Trump’s first year in office – over twelve months marked by egregious attacks on our civil rights and liberties by the entire administration.
As an organization, our allegiance is to the Constitution and our mission is to protect the constitutional rights of every person in this country – regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or religion. In matching that mission, the ACLU has challenged the administration of every president since Woodrow Wilson.
But from racially-motivated immigration policies, to relentless attacks on freedom of the press, to systemic voter disenfranchisement, to his persistent war on women – President Trump has endangered our freedom more than any president in decades.
That’s why we’ve been fighting on the frontlines to stand up for the people of Massachusetts in the courts, in the legislature, and on the streets:
- Last January, President Trump signed his first Muslim ban. We told President Trump we would see him in court if he ordered this unconstitutional ban on Muslims, immigrants, and refugees. He tried, and federal courts in Boston and throughout the nation stopped it in its tracks.
The fight continues: In December, the Supreme Court allowed the latest version of the ban to go into effect until the legal challenges are fully decided. As a result, the United States currently bans nationals of six Muslim-majority countries and a some North Koreans and Venezuelans from coming to the country on most types of visas, even if they have family here in the US.
- Throughout the year, we’ve seen too many families torn apart and lives disrupted by the Trump Administration’s xenophobic immigration policies. From Springfield to Chelsea, we’ve successfully secured the release of several men and women who were unlawfully detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But still, too many lives and communities are impacted by the administration’s detention and deportation machine. That’s why we continue to advocate for safe communities throughout Massachusetts in the State House and through our Immigrant Protection Project.
- In December, President Trump signed another executive order, one that impacts contraception coverage. We filed an amicus brief in support of Attorney General Maura Healey’s lawsuit against the Trump administration, arguing that the opt-out policy for contraception coverage discriminates against women.
The lawsuit followed an important reproductive justice victory here in Massachusetts: the Commonwealth swiftly passed a new law to protect and expand contraceptive access for patients throughout Massachusetts. At a time when the Trump Administration has once again chosen cruelty over care, we are proud that Massachusetts is leading the nation in protecting women and their families.
- Voting rights is yet another target of the Trump administration. Even before the election, the ACLU of Massachusetts was pressing for voting rights in the courts and legislature. In November 2016, we won an early-stage victory for voting rights when a court ruled that the 20-day voter registration cut-off day prevented people from exercising their franchise. That case will be argued on appeal in March 2018. Meanwhile, in the legislature, we are working with the voting rights coalition to pass a bill creating a system of automatic voter registration. If passed, this would guarantee that all voters in Massachusetts can make their voices heard at the ballot box.
- The ACLU also remains is a nationwide leader in defending LGBTQ rights against attacks by the Trump administration. At the national level, the ACLU successfully blocked efforts by the administration to discharge service members just because they are transgender. In Massachusetts, we are working with the Freedom For All Massachusetts Coalition to defeat a November 2018 ballot initiative to strip transgender people of equal protection of the law in Massachusetts (effectively rolling back legislative protections that we helped to pass two years ago).
Throughout the year, we will continue to make good on our promise to challenge the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back core civil rights and civil liberties. All Americans have an opportunity and obligation to resist these continuing attacks on core freedoms. Working together, we can emerge with our civil rights and civil liberties intact, with a more engaged citizenry, and with a more resilient republic.
Carol Rose is the executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts.