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Abstract

On several occasions during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump endorsed the creation of a mandatory government registry for Muslims in the United States— not just visitors from abroad, but American citizens as well. This astonishing proposal has received little attention in legal scholarship to date, even though Trump has refused to renounce the idea following his election to the presidency. In this Article, I attempt to address President Trump’ s proposal in several ways. First, I aim to provide a thorough analysis demonstrating unequivocally that such a “ Muslim registry,” with the characteristics President Trump has endorsed, would violate the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. Second, drawing context from Trump’ s executive orders limiting immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries, I analyze the constitutionality of a possible program disguised to avoid overt discrimination among religions but still operating in effect as a “ Muslim registry.” This too, I aim to demonstrate, would be a clear violation of the Constitution. Finally, I consider certain constitutional defenses that proponents of the “ Muslim registry” have already raised or appear likely to raise in support of the program. I conclude that these arguments are unconvincing. This Article ultimately attempts to demonstrate, through a methodical analysis of case law, legal scholarship, and the public record, that what President Trump has proposed is plainly unconstitutional. If this conclusion is not surprising, it is significant; even after assuming the presidency, Donald Trump has refused to disavow a policy that would clearly violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.

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