Referring to President Trump’s “rights,” as in “He has a right to declassify information,” repeats his childish and ignorant thinking and expression.
The presidency is a privilege conferred on a person by the citizens. It carries no additional rights beyond the rights of all citizens.
The President swears an oath of office.
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
By doing that, he takes on obligations to the people and Constitution of the United States. No additional rights.
All of a President’s actions should be guided by those obligations.
In the latest case in which the “rights” terminology has shown up, there are certain regulations that apply. The classification regulations give the President certain authorities, not rights. Under the oath of office, these authorities are to be exercised responsibly. And the authorities are exercised under the rule of law more generally.
In particular, the President is the ultimate classification authority. The regulations specify procedures through which that authority is to be exercised. Documents are to be signed, and classification markings are to be properly canceled.
It’s hard to believe that Trump followed any of those procedures in releasing yesterday’s photo. He is very possibly violating his oath of office in releasing national security information impulsively through a tweet. He has no “right” to do that.
Cross-posted at Balloon Juice