The Slatest

Ronald Reagan’s Solicitor General Has Had Enough of Trump

Charles Fried has had enough.

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The man who represented the Reagan administration 25 times at the Supreme Court has issued a stinging rebuke of Donald Trump in an exclusive to Slate. Charles Fried, who served as solicitor general from 1985 to 1989 and now teaches constitutional law at Harvard Law School, tells Slate that Trump is the most risky in a string of recent GOP candidates that have forced a choice between party and country.

Here is the full comment:

Though long a registered Republican, this will be the third consecutive presidential election in which my party forces the choice between party and, in John McCain’s words, putting America first. Sarah Palin, McCain’s erratic and surely regretted choice as running mate, in her voluble and opinionated ignorance was an early precursor of Donald Trump. It was the spirit of Sarah Palin and those who cheered her on that animated the subsequent defeat of such traditional Republicans as Bob Bennett in Utah, Dick Lugar in Indiana, and Eric Cantor in Virginia. Many who survived only did so by pretending to positions they did not hold. There was no more transparent pretender than Mitt Romney in 2012. Now those same forces have given us Donald Trump, whose presumptive presence at the head of the Republican ticket disgraces not only the party but the nation. You sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. It is to Romney’s  credit that this year, like John Paulson and George Will, he is standing up against the brutal, substantively incoherent, and authoritarian tendencies of Donald Trump.


Fried is not the first figure with ties to Reagan to speak out over Trump. Last month, Richard Armitage, assistant secretary of defense under Reagan and George W. Bush’s deputy secretary of state, told Politico that he would be voting for Hillary Clinton. In May, Robert Kagan, a state department official during the Reagan administration, assessed Trump’s rise in a piece for the Washington Post called, “This Is How Fascism Comes to America.” Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan has compared Trump unfavorably to the late president, as have his sons Ron and Michael. “Ronald Reagan would never take 11 million people or three million people or a million people and throw them out of the United States of America,” Michael Reagan told Politico last month.

Fried, a Republican, supported Barack Obama in 2008 despite having advised John McCain and did so again in 2012. Fried was also a defender of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.