Social policy of Donald Trump
It has been suggested that Cannabis policy of the Donald Trump administration be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since April 2017.
President Donald Trump describes himself as pro-life and generally opposes abortion with some exceptions: rape, incest, and circumstances endangering the health of the mother. He has said that he is committed to appointing justices who may overturn the ruling in Roe v. Wade. Trump personally opposes same-sex marriage but said after the election that he considers the nationwide legality of same-sex marriage a "settled" issue with the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. This appeared to contradict some of his campaign statements, where he said he would "strongly consider" appointing justices to overturn this decision.
Trump supports a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and says he is opposed to gun control in general, although his views have shifted over time. Trump opposes legalizing recreational marijuana but supports legalizing medical marijuana. He favors capital punishment, as well as the use of waterboarding.
- 1 Abortion
- 2 Christianity
- 3 Family leave
- 4 First Amendment and defamation law
- 5 Gender pay gap
- 6 LGBT issues
- 7 Pornography
- 8 Privacy, encryption, and electronic surveillance
- 9 Race relations
- 10 Rights of the accused
- 11 Voter fraud, voter ID laws, and false claims about "rigged elections"
- 12 Women in the military
- 13 References
Trump's views on abortion have changed significantly between 1999 when he was "very" pro-choice and would neither ban abortion nor "partial-birth abortion", and his 2016 presidential campaign where he repeatedly described himself as pro-life (more specifically "pro-life with exceptions"), suggested that women who have abortions should face some sort of punishment (a view he quickly retracted), and pledged to appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court.
In October 1999, Trump said, "I am very pro-choice" and "I believe in choice." He said that he hated the "concept of abortion," but would not ban abortion or the procedure sometimes called "partial-birth abortion." Later that year, Trump gave interviews stating "I'm totally pro-choice" and "I want to see the abortion issue removed from politics. I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors."
2016 presidential campaign
While campaigning for the presidency in 2016, Trump stated "I'm pro-life and I've been pro-life a long time" and acknowledged that he had "evolved" on the issue. CNN reported that Trump "dodged questions testing the specificity of those views." In August 2015, Trump said that he supported a government shutdown over federal funding for Planned Parenthood (which receives federal funding for the health services it provides to 2.7 million people annually, but is barred by federal law from using federal funds for abortion-related procedures). In March 2016, Trump said that Planned Parenthood should not be funded "as long as you have the abortion going on," but acknowledged that "Planned Parenthood has done very good work for many, many -- for millions of women." Planned Parenthood said in a statement that "Trump presidency would be a disaster for women" and criticized Trump's claim that "he'd be great for women while in the same breath pledging to block them from accessing care at Planned Parenthood."
In an interview later that month, Trump acknowledged that there must be "some form" of punishment for women if abortion were made illegal in the U.S. Trump issued a statement later that day reversing his position from earlier by saying, "the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman." Trump has said that abortion should be legal in cases involving "rape, incest or the life of the mother being at risk."
In May 2016, when asked if he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, Trump stated: "Well, they'll be pro-life. And we'll see about overturning, but I will appoint judges that will be pro-life." In the same interview, Trump stated of the anti-abortion cause: "I will protect it, and the biggest way you can protect is through the Supreme Court." The Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, praised Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees as "exceptionally strong," while the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America called the candidates on the list "a woman's worst nightmare." Trump has also pledged to sign legislation from Congress banning abortion at the 20-week mark.
In his first interview following his designation as president-elect, Trump affirmed his pledge to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices. He said that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, the issue would be returned to the states, and that if some states outlawed abortion, a woman would "have to go to another state" to obtain an abortion.
In January 24, days after being sworn in, Trump issued an executive order reinstating the Mexico City policy (also called the "global gag rule"). Under the policy, international non-governmental organizations that "offer or promote abortions as part of their family planning services" are barred from receiving funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Trump has on several occasions suggested that Christians are being discriminated against, for instance, stating that "Christianity is under tremendous siege." He has vowed to end an IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempted non-profits from campaigning on behalf of candidates, believing the rule undermines Christian influence in U.S. politics: "we have more Christians than we have men or women in our country and we don’t have a lobby because they’re afraid to have a lobby because they don’t want to lose their tax status... So I am going to work like hell to get rid of that prohibition and we’re going to have the strongest Christian lobby and it's going to happen." Trump has suggested that he is being audited by the IRS "maybe because of the fact that I'm a strong Christian." He has suggested that he would have an easier time getting a ban on Christian immigrants passed than one on Muslims.
Trump has been critical of department stores that do not greet their customers with "merry Christmas", stating that things will change if he gets elected president: "I'll tell you one thing: I get elected president, we're going to be saying 'merry Christmas' again. Just remember that."
In his February 2017 address at the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump stated: "I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment." The Johnson Amendment is a provision of U.S. law that bars section 501(c) tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates or participating in partisan campaigns.
In October 2015, Trump stated that "you have to be careful with" paid family leave as it could impact keeping "our country very competitive". However, in several policy proposals which were created in part by his daughter Ivanka in September of that year, Trump guaranteed six weeks paid maternity leave to mothers who do not already receive leave from their employers in the first paid maternity leave plan from a Republican presidential nominee. However, Trump's proposals were criticized by opponents as hypocritical in light of Trump's previous comments on women, and for being sexist in assuming that women were their children's sole caregivers. Josh Levs in Time magazine wrote that "Policies that only allow women time off end up hurting women by pushing women to stay home and men to stay at work, reinforcing our anachronistic Mad Men-era work cultures."
First Amendment and defamation law
Trump has called for police to arrest those who protest at his rallies, saying that fear of an "arrest mark" that would "ruin the rest of their lives" would be a deterrent and that then "we're not going to have any more protesters, folks." Geoffrey R. Stone, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, notes that opponents and disruptive individuals may be removed from Trump rallies consistent with the First Amendment, but opponents have a First Amendment right to protest Trump outside the venue. Stone writes that it is unclear whether it would be consistent with the First Amendment for Trump to "order the removal of those who oppose his candidacy from his political rallies if he does not announce in advance that they are open only to his supporters," noting that the answer to this question depends not on the First Amendment, but on the nature of open invitations in the law of trespass.
Trump has said that if elected, he would loosen defamation laws so that when journalists write "purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money." The Associated Press reported that this proposal to weaken the First Amendment protections for the press is at odds with "widely held conceptions of constitutional law." The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and other First Amendment advocates condemned Trump's proposal, which would make it easier to win lawsuits accusing newspapers of libel.
Trump has expressed support for adopting English-style defamation laws in the U.S.; under UK law, it is easier for plaintiffs to sue newspapers and other media outlets. In 2016, the American Bar Association (ABA)'s committee on media law created a report that was critical of Trump's support for expansive defamation laws and his use of libel suits in the past. The committee concluded that Trump was "a 'libel bully' who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court." The ABA's leadership blocked the report from being issued; the organization did not contest the committee's conclusions, but expressed concern about the possibility of being sued by Trump.
On the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016, Trump has frequently "railed against" the press, referring to the media as "the most dishonest people" and "absolute scum." The Trump campaign has barred reporters (from Politico, The New York Times, The Des Moines Register, The Huffington Post, and Univision, among others) from its campaign events, "often in the wake of critical coverage." In October 2016, NBC News reportedly held off on airing a video of Trump making lewd and disparaging remarks about women due to concerns that Trump would sue the network.
Gender pay gap
According to the Chicago Tribune, Trump has not addressed the gender pay gap in his 2016 presidential bid (as of July 2016). According to the Tribune, "Trump's past statements on women in the workplace have included calling pregnancy 'an inconvenience' and telling a voter in New Hampshire last year that women will receive the same pay as men 'if they do as good a job.'"
Rea Carey, the executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, has described Trump's public statements on LGBT issues as "confusing and conflicting." During his campaign for the presidency, Trump did not emphasize the issue and at times gave ambiguous answers. Within the Republican Party, Trump was viewed as having a more accepting view of LGBT people. Trump said that he was a supporter of "traditional marriage" but that the decision on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry should be determined state by state. At one point in the campaign, Trump said that "he would 'strongly consider' appointing Supreme Court justices who would overturn same-sex marriage." Later in the campaign, he held a rainbow flag onstage in Greeley, Colorado to appeal to his gay supporters. Soon after his election, Trump said that the law on same-sex marriage was settled "and I'm fine with that."
Before and during presidential candidacy
LGBT anti-discrimination laws
In a February 2000 interview with The Advocate, Trump said he supported amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include the category of sexual orientation and supported federal hate crime legislation that would cover sexual orientation.
Trump has offered qualified support for the First Amendment Defense Act, which aims to protect those who oppose same-sex marriage based on their religious beliefs from action by the federal government, such as revocation of tax-exempt status, grants, loans, benefits, or employment. Trump said, "If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment."
In April 2015, when asked about the Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Trump responded that Indiana Governor (and future running mate) Mike Pence "didn't do a good job. He wasn't clear in what he said." Trump then asserted that religious freedom and nondiscrimination aren't "mutually exclusive."
In April 2016, Trump criticized North Carolina's North Carolina House Bill 2, which eliminates all private employment and public accommodation anti-discrimination laws not covered by statewide law, and legislates that in government buildings, individuals may only use restrooms and changing facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates, saying: "North Carolina did something that was very strong and they're paying a big price. ... You leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble, and the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife, and the economic punishment that they're taking." Trump stated: "I fully understand if they [North Carolina] want to go through, but they are losing business and they are having a lot of people come out against." The bill is controversial because it prevents transgender people who do not or cannot alter their birth certificates from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity. Later that April, Trump took the position that states have the right to enact such legislation and that the federal government should not become involved. He did not express an opinion on whether the law was right or wrong. In July 2016, Trump again emphasized a states' rights approach regarding HB2, saying, "The state, they know what's going on, they see what's happening and generally speaking I’m with the state on things like this. I’ve spoken with your governor, I’ve spoken with a lot of people and I’m going with the state."
LGBT hate crime laws
In a February 2000 interview with The Advocate, Trump stated in response to the murder of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd that he wanted a more "tolerant society" and he would "absolutely" support hate crime legislation on the basis of their race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
LGBT military service
In an October 1999 appearance on Meet the Press, Trump said gays openly serving in the military was "not something that would disturb me." At a rally in October 2016, Trump called the open military service of transgender Americans a result of a "political correct military" and said that he would "very strongly" defer to the recommendations of top military officers on the issue of transgender military personnel.
In 2000, Trump stated "he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman." During his 2016 campaign for the presidency, he said that he supported "traditional marriage" and opposed same-sex marriage.
In June 2015, when asked about the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, he said: "I would have preferred states, you know, making the decision and I let that be known. But they made the decision. ... So, at a certain point you have to be realistic about it." Later, in the run up to the Iowa caucuses on February 1, 2016, Trump stated that if elected he would strongly consider appointing Supreme Court justices that would overturn Obergefell. When asked if gay couples should be able access the same benefits as married couples, Trump said that his "attitude on it has not been fully formed." The Advocate, an American LGBT-interest magazine, characterized Trump's Supreme Court picks as "LGBT-unfriendly," noting that "not all have ruled in LGBT rights cases, but those who have are largely unsympathetic, and some have the backing of anti-LGBT activists."
In November 2016, shortly after the presidential election, Trump told Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes that his personal view on same-sex marriage was "irrelevant" and that he was "fine with" same-sex marriage, stating that the issue was "settled" in the Obergefell decision.
Trump is the first Republican presidential nominee to mention the LGBT community at a Republican National Convention acceptance speech, saying in his acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention: "As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology"—a reference to fundamentalist Islam.
On January 30, 2017, Donald Trump and the White House saying that they would keep in place a 2014 executive order from the Obama administration which created federal workplace protections for LGBT people, with the White House released a statement saying that the President was "respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights" and noted that he was the first Republican nominee to raise the issue in his acceptance speech as the 2016 Republican National Convention.
In February 2017, Trump's Justice Department withdrew a motion that had previously been filed by the Justice Department, "seeking to allow transgender students in public schools to use the restroom with which they identify." The move, which occurred within two days of Jeff Sessions becoming U.S. Attorney General, was condemned by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights advocacy group.
Also in February, the Trump administration kept U.S. diplomat Randy W. Berry in his position as the State Department's Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, a post created in 2015 under the Obama administration. This move surprised pro-LGBT rights groups such as GLAAD and was a defeat for Christian right groups such as the Family Research Council, which "implored Trump to launch a major purge of pro-LGBT diplomats inside Foggy Bottom."
Trump signed a pledge in July 2016 that he would work to combat both legal pornography and illegal pornography, such as child pornography. In the pledge, put forth by the anti-pornography group Enough Is Enough, Trump promised to "give serious consideration to appointing a Presidential Commission to examine the harmful public health impact of Internet pornography on youth, families and the American culture and the prevention of the sexual exploitation of children in the digital age."
Privacy, encryption, and electronic surveillance
On National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, Trump says that he "tends to err on the side of security" over privacy. Trump supports bringing back now-expired provisions of the Patriot Act to allow for the NSA to collect and store bulk telephone metadata. Trump said: "I assume that when I pick up my telephone, people are listening to my conversations anyway."
In February 2016, Trump urged his supporters to boycott Apple Inc. unless the company agrees to build a custom backdoor for the FBI to unlock the password-protected iPhone connected to one of the perpetrators of the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, a move that Apple argues would threaten the security and privacy of its users. Trump himself still uses his iPhone to send out tweets.
Trump's views on race have been incredibly influential in American politics, particularly in Republican Party politics. He is consistent in finding no fault on the part of law enforcement when it clashes with racial minorities and in dismissing contrary evidence. As of April 2017, Trump's most consequential policy having to do with race was Executive Order 13769, which blocked Muslims from seven countries from entering the United States.
Trump has criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and accuses President Obama of "dividing America." Trump has said that if elected president, he might direct his Attorney General to look into the Black Lives Matter movement. When asked if he believes there to be a racial divide in America, Trump answered, "Sadly, there would seem to be...and it's probably not been much worse at any time." When asked if he believes police treat African Americans differently than whites, Trump answered, "It could be." Trump describes the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile as "tough to watch" and criticized the "terrible, disgusting performance" by police. Trump said that he could relate to the systemic bias African Americans faced against whites, saying, "even against me the system is rigged when I ran ... for president." When asked if he could understand the experience of being African American, Trump replied, "I would like to say yes, but you really can't unless you are African American. You can't truly understand what's going on unless you are African American. I would like to say yes, however."
On November 19, 2015, a week after the November 2015 Paris attacks, when asked if he would implement a database system to track Muslims in the United States, Trump said: "I would certainly implement that. Absolutely. There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems." On November 21, Trump clarified that he doesn't support any registry of Muslims in the US and said that his earlier supportive remarks for surveilling Muslims were due to efforts by news media to entrap him. He however said that he would order "surveillance of certain mosques" to combat "Islamic extremism". Trump said, "We’ve had it before and we’ll have it again", alluding to the New York Police Department’s use of informants in mosques after the Sept. 11 attacks. Trump also spoke in favor of a database on Syrian refugees without clarifying how it would be different from the records already kept by federal agencies. Trump's support for a database of American Muslims "drew sharp rebukes from his Republican presidential rivals and disbelief from legal experts." Trump justified his proposals by repeatedly saying that he recalled "thousands and thousands of people ... cheering" in Jersey City, New Jersey, when the World Trade Center towers fell on September 11, 2001. PolitiFact noted that this statement was false and gave it a "Pants on Fire" rating. It reported that the rating was based on some debunked rumors and also that there were only eight people (suggested by unproven media reports) purported to be seen cheering, as opposed to Trump’s claim of "thousands and thousands". Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop called Trump's claim "absurd" and said that Trump "has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth."
Rights of the accused
In a 1989 interview with Larry King, Trump stated: "The problem with our society is the victim has absolutely no rights and the criminal has unbelievable rights" and that "maybe hate is what we need if we're gonna get something done."
In 2016, Trump decried the fact that Ahmad Khan Rahami, a U.S. citizen charged in connection with the bombings in New York and New Jersey, would be provided with medical treatment and the right to counsel, calling this "sad."
At the second presidential debate, which took place in October 2016, Trump said that if he was "in charge of the law of our country," rival presidential contender Hillary Clinton would "be in jail." In the same debate, Trump also pledged that if elected, he would direct his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to "look into" Clinton. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook called the remark "chilling" and said: "Trump thinks that the presidency is like some banana republic dictatorship where you can lock up your political opponents." The remark was viewed as part of "a litany of statements [Trump] has made during the campaign that many legal specialists have portrayed as a threat to the rule of law." The remark was condemned by a number of prominent Republican lawyers, such as Paul K. Charlton, Marc Jimenez, and Peter Zeidenberg, as well as David B. Rivkin and Michael Chertoff. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said that the "jail" comment was merely "a quip."
Later that October, Trump spoke fondly of the "Lock her up" chants at his rally, saying “Lock her up is right.” He also said that Clinton's legal representatives "have to go to jail". However, in November, after the election, Trump told reporters from the New York Times that he would not recommend prosecution of Clinton, saying that it was "just not something (he) feel(s) very strongly about" and suggesting that Clinton had "suffered greatly". He repeated this stance in public at a rally in Michigan the following month, responding to "Lock her up" chants from the crowd by saying: "That plays great before the election - now we don't care, right?".
Trying U.S. citizens in military tribunals
In August 2016, Trump said that he "would be fine" with trying U.S. citizens accused of terrorism in military tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Under current federal law (specifically, the Military Commissions Act of 2006), trying U.S. citizens at military commissions is illegal; only "alien unlawful enemy combatants" may be tried in such commissions.
Use of torture to procure information
In February 2016, Trump said that he approved of the use of waterboarding and "a hell of a lot worse." He said that "torture works" and called waterboarding a “minor form” of torture. Speaking with Sean Hannity on Fox News on January 26, 2017, Trump termed waterboarding “just short of torture,” and said, “I will tell you, though, it works. And I just spoke to people who told me it worked, and that’s what they do.” However, he said that he would rely on the advice of his defense secretary, James Mattis and others and, “If they don’t wanna do, that’s fine. If they do wanna do, then I will work for that end.” 
Voter fraud, voter ID laws, and false claims about "rigged elections"
Trump opposes same-day voter registration, supports voter identification laws, asserted that Obama won in 2012 due to voter fraud, has charged that the election system would be rigged against him in the 2016 race, and has equivocated on whether he would accept the outcome of the 2016 election.
Trump has asserted that America's "voting system is out of control," alleging that "you have people, in my opinion, that are voting many, many times," even though the number of cases of voter fraud in the U.S. is minuscule. Trump opposes same-day voter registration, alleging that this allows non-citizens to vote in U.S. elections and that voting laws should prevent people from "[sneaking] in through the cracks." PolitiFact ruled Trump's claim about voter fraud false, noting that according to experts, "there is no additional risk of noncitizens casting ballots in states with same-day voter registration, nor is there any evidence that this occurs."
While he has repeatedly charged during his candidacy that the election system is rigged against him, Trump's statements became bolder and more specific in August 2016. He alleged that the only way he would only lose Pennsylvania if "cheating goes on", and that voters will cast their ballots "15 times" for Clinton without voter ID laws. The Wall Street Journal notes that several voter ID laws have been struck down in several states recently, with courts ruling that they unfairly discriminate against minority voters, and that "there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud occurring in recent U.S. elections." According to Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan, Trump's rhetoric "threatens the norms of American elections and could provoke a damaging reaction among his supporters."
In the September 2016 presidential debate, when asked if he would honor the outcome of the election, Trump said that he "absolutely" would. Four days later, Trump appeared to have reconsidered his statement from the debate, saying "We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see." In early- and mid-October 2016, Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was "rigged" and alleged that the media coordinated with the Clinton campaign, citing Alec Baldwin's portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live. In October 2016, after early voting and voting by mail had begun in many states, Trump claimed, without evidence, that ""The election is absolutely being rigged" at "many polling places." That same month, Trump asserted, also without evidence, that the federal government was allowing illegal immigrants to come into the U.S. so they can vote. PolitiFact found Trump's claim of "large scale voter fraud" false, giving it a "Pants-on-fire" rating.
Trump has claimed that "dead people voted for President Obama" and that "dead voters... helped get President Obama elected." On election night 2012, Trump expressed skepticism about Obama's victory, saying, among other things, "This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!"
Since his election in November 2016—in which he won the electoral college but received 2.8 million fewer votes nationally than Clinton—Trump has repeatedly insisted, without evidence, that he actually won the popular vote if one excludes "3 to 5 million illegal votes" cast for his opponent. This claim is false. After taking office, Trump said he would launch a major investigation into these unsubstantiated allegations, and appointing his Vice President, Mike Pence, to head a White House commission to do so. Trump, however, "as yet to keep his long-standing promise to issue executive actions ordering an investigation" into his claims of fraud.
Women in the military
In 2013, Trump questioned the wisdom of allowing women to serve, linking gender-integrated forces with higher rates of sexual assault "26,000 unreported sexual assults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?" In 2014, Trump stated that it was "bedlam" to bring women into the army. In August 2015, Trump said he would support women in combat roles "because they're really into it and some of them are really, really good."
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