- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Favoring sanctuary cities should be a disqualification for a potential president, President Trump said Tuesday.

“No one who supports sanctuary cities should be allowed to run for president of the United States,” he told nearly 20,000 cheering supporters in Orlando, where he kicked off his 2020 reelection campaign.

It’s a view that I never heard him express before in a prepared speech.

“Democrats support sanctuary cities,” he reminded his partisans, many of whom had waited outside for hours — some since the night before — under a searing sun and afternoon rainstorms.

His red-shirted enthusiasts endured the wait because they wanted to nab seats as close as possible to their president and hero.

“Sanctuary cities are an open attack on American law enforcement and American families,” the president said, adding that Democrats, by opposing local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities, are “sacrificing American lives in pursuit of a callous political agenda.”

He didn’t spell it out, but he meant that the agenda is to recruit as many Hispanic and other minority asylum seekers and border jumpers as possible to the Democratic Party’s ranks — at least on election days.

Contrasting the Democrats’ goals with what he posited as his own party’s agenda, he said, “Republicans believe welfare, schools, hospitals, and public resources should be protected for all Americans.”

It’s his way of saying that if you’re jumping our border to get welfare benefits, educaton, health care and other freebies, forget about it.

Mr. Trump did not mean he favors a law to bar a presidential run by anyone who disagrees with him on sanctuary cities, despite the suspicions of the overstimulated Trump Resistance in the press and on Capitol Hill that he is possessed of latent dictatorial tendencies.

The president meant that anyone who advocates sanctuary cities is thumbing his nose at the rule of law and the preservation of American values, and so has no business running for the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump understands that to block the presidency from anyone who doesn’t agree with you on something is as un-American as it gets. Mr. Trump is saying that to advocate for sanctuary cities is to urge breaking the law.

Despite the rulings to the contrary by lower federal courts, he’s right. Local jurisdictions that refuse to let their local law enforcers cooperate with federal immigration authorities are breaking the law.

That’s what I think. That’s what he thinks.

That’s not what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer say they think. Nor is it what that perplexed platoon of Democrats chasing their party’s presidential nomination thinks, to the extent its members think at all, for which as yet there appears little evidence.

The question Mr. Trump raised about the legality or constitutionality of sanctuary cities and states is in fact making it way to the Supreme Court. Given the Supremes’ latest configuration — think Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and maybe one more to be added soon — at least five of the nine seem more likely to agree with Mr. Trump than lower federal courts have so far.

As for passing a law against sanctuary-city advocates (or abdicators) running for president, there’s a well-established difference in American jurisprudence between advocacy and action.

And it turns out that American history is at odds with itself over the question.

In the 1950s, the federal government arrested, indicted and tried more than 200 people for belonging to organizations like the Communist Party that the government said advocated the overthrow of the U.S. government by force or violence. Federal prosecutors won convictions against many of those indicted. They went to jail.

But by 1957, the Supreme Court’s Yates decision ruled that the government could prosecute defendants for their actions only, not for their beliefs.

Talk about American exceptionalism.

Americans never bought communism, fascism, or dictatorship based on race superiority or religious absolutes. Why? In big part, I think, because this nation ultimately rejected making the mere advocacy of these things a sufficient cause for shoving anyone into the slammer and throwing away the key.

For America, freedom of speech and association means exactly that, and it does not amend that to suit the temper of the moment.

America furthermore has never prevented anyone from running for president for any reason other than age (35 years) and birthplace (either mom dropped you in the United States of America or fuhgeddaboudit).

I think Mr. Trump is as proud of that as anyone.

Let’s go a step further. I’ll bet Mr. Trump would fight for the right of anyone to advocate for sanctuary cities — or for anything else.

I think he understands that soap-box advocacy and running for president are two different things. One’s an unconditional constitutional right; the other is a conditional right — again based on those two unalterable facts of age and place of birth and not on belief or advocacy.

Is this a great country or what?

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