While Trump’s tactics against protesters may be brazenly unconstitutional, legal scholars say they’ll be very hard for mayors and governors to stop.
“It is a core tenet of Fourth Amendment law that officers cannot arrest people unless they have probable cause to believe they committed a crime.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned Tuesday that while she welcomes a “partnership” with federal law enforcement, “we do not welcome dictatorship, we do not welcome authoritarianism, and we do not welcome unconstitutional arrest and detainment of our residents.”
But while President Trump threatens a national surge of federal forces dubbed “Operation Legend,” experts say there’s little local officials can do to stop the feds from turning more U.S. cities into Portland, where unidentified federal agents in fatigues have beaten and fired projectiles at BLM protesters and even snatched them off the streets in unmarked cars
While some of Trump’s “secret police” tactics against protesters may be brazenly unconstitutional, legal scholars said they’ll be very hard for mayors and governors to stop, thanks to the vast authority Trump enjoys to protect federal property.
“It will be difficult for state officials to stop them, because federal authority is about more than just protecting federal monuments and bridges,” said Jens David Ohlin, vice dean of Cornell Law School. “It’s also about investigating and enforcing federal offenses, which can occur anywhere.”
Trump’s musings about sending federal agents to Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland now set the stage for a titanic legal clash over the limits of presidential power — in which Trump enjoys some distinct advantages, gal experts said.
And that courtroom rumble will play out against a presidential election cycle in which Trump is making “law & order” a core part of his campaign, while darkly warning that Americans will be unsafe in their homes if he loses.
“Based on the news reports that I’ve seen, there are pretty clear violations of the Fourth Amendment,” which bars arrests without probable cause, said Steven Schwinn, a Constitutional scholar at John Marshall Law School in Chicago. “But it’s still going to be difficult to find a judicial remedy.”
Even if a judge orders federal agents to immediately stop their cloak & dagger approach, Trump may still be able to work around such an order, legal experts said. His administration has proved expert in slow-walking the judicial system and fighting rulings it doesn’t like.
By Greg Walters