What Constitution?

11.16.15 7:05 PM ET

Trump Keeps on Saying We Should Shut Down Mosques

Donald Trump knows everything about a lot of things, according to Trump. But his grasp of the religious freedom remains a bit weak.

Donald J. Trump has a plan to counter jihadist ideology in America: Tear apart the First Amendment.

On Monday morning, the Republican presidential candidate / two-time SNL host appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where the panel discussed the French interior minister’s call for the dissolution of extremist-linked mosques in France in the wake of last week’s Paris attacks. Host Joe Scarborough then asked if a Trump administration would consider shutting down mosques in this country.

“I would hate to do it but it would be something that you’re going to have strongly consider because some of the ideas, some of the hatred—the absolute hatred—is coming from these areas,” Trump said.

The Donald attempted to hedge his statement by also claiming that closing American mosques is “something that many people—not me—but many people are considering and many people are going to do.”

The only problem is that this is absolutely a constitutional violation—but one that Trump hasn’t really been concerned about in the past.

In October, Trump called into Stuart Varney’s Fox Business show and was asked about British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent proposal to shutter mosques if a worshiper is found to be linked to ISIS.

“Would you do the same thing in America?” Varney asked.

“I would do that, absolutely, I think it’s great,” Trump replied.

After Varney pointed out that an American president might run into some trouble closing down a Muslim house of worship due to that whole religious-freedom inconvenience, Trump responded, “Well, I don’t know. I mean, I haven’t heard about the closing of the mosque. It depends, if the mosque is, you know, loaded for bear, I don’t know. You’re going to have to certainly look at it.”

Trump’s comments were (to be polite) bizarre enough to provoke repudiation from Republican Congressman Peter King, himself often accused of anti-Muslim bigotry and fear-mongering.

“Donald Trump is talking before he knows what he’s talking about,” King said on Fox News. “I have been critical of people in the Muslim community, but the fact is you can’t be shutting down mosques…We do have freedom of religion.”

(King goes on to call for closer “surveillance of mosques,” however.)

“Donald Trump’s apparent willingness to close down American mosques that he deems ‘extreme’ is totally incompatible with the Constitution and our nation’s cherished principle of religious freedom,” Robert McCaw, a government affairs manager for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said at the time.

For his part, Trump has repeatedly insisted that he “love[s] the Muslims,” and that Muslims are “great people.” He would even consider putting a Muslim in his Cabinet, or selecting one as his running mate.

He has also called Muslim-Americans “phenomenal,” model citizens. And as president of the United States, Donald Trump would apparently be perfectly OK with stripping these phenomenal people of some of their most basic rights.

Because ISIS.