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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Trump and Executive Orders

Some conservatives hope that Trump would curb executive authority. But January 10, his comments on Meet the Press suggested the opposite:
CHUCK TODD:Are you going to refuse to do executive orders as president?
DONALD TRUMP:I won't refuse it. I won't refuse them.
CHUCK TODD:You'll do them, too, right--
DONALD TRUMP:I will do a lot of right things. Well, I mean, he's led the way, to be honest with you; what he's done on immigration, when he signed those papers. Now, fortunately, the courts, all of a sudden, have done a little bit of a termination. We'll see what happens. But one of the beautiful things about executive orders (from my standpoint) is, if I get elected, many of those executive orders that he signed, the first day, they're going to be unsigned.

CHUCK TODD:Oh, I understand that. But you're willing to use them, too, yourself?

DONALD TRUMP:Oh, I'm not going to rule it out.
CHUCK TODD:Final question, because I know you've got the rally to get to--

DONALD TRUMP: But I'm going to use them much better and they're going to be, and they're going to serve a much better purpose than what he's done.
He had already identified one such order.  In December, Ben Kasimar reported at The Hill:
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Thursday vowed to issue an executive order to mandate the death penalty for anyone who kills a police officer.

“One of the first things I’d do in terms of executive order, if I win, will be to sign a strong, strong statement that would go out to the country, out to the world, anybody killing a police man, a police woman, a police officer, anybody killing a police officer, the death penalty is going to happen,” he said.
(The proposal was not a slip of the tongue.  Media adviser Dan Scavino tweeted it out.)

The New York Times explains:
For a person prosecuted in state court for killing a police officer, that state’s laws would apply, not the wishes of the president.

“He would have no authority over what happens in prosecutions under state law,” said Austin D. Sarat, a professor of law and political science at Amherst College who has studied the death penalty.

Moreover, nearly 20 states do not have the death penalty.

The death penalty does exist for some federal crimes, including killing a federal law enforcement official. But it is seldom used; only three people have been executed by the federal government in the last half-century.
Those issues aside, if Mr. Trump wants the death penalty to be mandatory for people who kill police officers, that is problematic, too, according to experts. The Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that mandatory death sentences were unconstitutional.