Politics & Policy

Donald Trump, It’s Time for a Constitutional Showdown with Mayor de Blasio

(Andrew Burton/Getty)

The Left’s outrage cycle moves on, relentlessly. Having triumphed over Bo and Luke Duke, having triumphed over marriage itself, the social-justice Left is moving on to The Donald. Our own Rich Lowry has detailed the corporate onslaught against Donald Trump — motivated by his comments about Mexican immigrants: “Theyre sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They are are bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”

NBC, Univision, and Macy’s have severed ties with Trump. All of this is par for the course in modern corporate America — where companies are all too eager to capitalize on the shame cycle du jour. It’s a (semi) free country, however, and companies are free to express their own views on politics and culture — unless of course they breach a contract. Trump has filed suit against Univision, seeking a modest $500 million in damages.

Yesterday, however, the dispute achieved constitutional significance. In the ultimate act of social-justice me-too-ism, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he is now “reviewing” Trumps contract’s with the city. Why? Because of his constitutionally protected speech. Here’s de Blasio’s statement:

We are reviewing Trump contracts with the City. Donald Trump’s remarks were disgusting and offensive, and this hateful language has no place in our city. Trump’s comments do not represent the values of inclusion and openness that define us as New Yorkers. Our Mexican brothers and sister make up an essential part of this city’s vibrant and diverse community, and we will continue to celebrate and support New Yorkers of every background.

It’s a basic rule of free speech that no state official can determine what kind of speech does or does not have a “place” in any jurisdiction in the United States, even liberal New York. De Blasio’s words are reminiscent of the attempt by Chicago alderman Joe Moreno in 2012 to block Chick-fil-A from his ward because “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values.” Moreno wasn’t alone. Boston mayor Thomas Menino vowed to ban the fast-food chain, declaring that “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston.” While not making the same kind of explicit threat, San Francisco’s mayor also urged Chick-fil-A to stay out of town. Yet public officials can’t lawfully ban a business because of the political views of its owner, and most of them quickly backed down. It was only a matter of time, however, before another mayor tried the same tactic.

Bill de Blasio is free to condemn Donald Trump, to insult him, and to declare loudly and proudly that New York City’s government doesn’t share Trump’s views or values. In other words, de Blasio enjoys his own free-speech rights. He is not free, however, to take any formal government action against Trump simply because of Trump’s viewpoint.

#related#While de Blasio’s action is constitutionally dangerous, part of me wants to see him pull the trigger, to break his city contracts. Why? Because unlike most victims of state censorship, Trump has the will and resources to make an example of de Blasio — to punish the city for its repression. Yes, litigation has its risks (the last two weeks have amply demonstrated how courts will manipulate or create legal doctrines to achieve the desired results), but there are times when risks must be taken.

Break those contracts, Mayor de Blasio. Sue the mayor, Mr. Trump. And let’s see if the Supreme Court’s inspiring words still have meaning: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

The social-justice Left is doing its best to “prescribe what shall be orthodox” in virtually every meaningful arena of life. It’s one thing to do so through corporate action and silly social-media shame cycles. It’s another thing entirely to do so through the power of the state. One doesn’t have to agree with Trump’s assessment of Mexican immigrants to understand de Blasio’s threat to liberty. If it’s time for a constitutional showdown, let it be in the Big Apple.

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