I expected California's tax return requirement law for presidential candidates not to stand up to any federal Constitutional tests, but the Trump regime won a unanimous victory in California's state Supreme Court today as the law was struck down.
President Donald Trump won’t have to release his tax returns to get on California’s 2020 primary ballot following a unanimous ruling from the state Supreme Court on Thursday that invalidated a new state law.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 27 into law in July to compel presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release five years of tax returns to get on California’s primary ballot. Jessica Patterson, chairwoman of the Republican Party then sued the state.
Under California’s constitution, the state must administer an “open presidential primary whereby the candidates on the ballot are those found by the secretary of state to be recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California.”
The court ruled the added requirement for tax returns “is in conflict with the (state) constitution’s specification of an inclusive open presidential primary ballot.”
Republicans arguing against California’s law claimed it would force “recognized candidates” off the ballot and discourage potential candidates from running for office, thus defying the constitution’s mandate for an “open” primary.
“Lawmakers didn’t even take into account the conflicts it may have with the state constitution,” Patterson said of the struck down law. “This is a pretty direct example that California Democrats here have been completely arrogant and their overreach knows no bounds. This was a solution in search of a problem.”
Patterson had worried fewer Republicans would show up for the primary if Trump weren’t at the top of the ticket, especially as Democrats appear fired up going into the 2020 primary, which the state had bumped up from June to March.
Under the state’s primary system, the two highest vote-getters could both be Democrats, which would prevent a Republican from advancing to the general election in down-ballot races.
“If we didn’t have our presumed nominee on the ballot in the 2020 primary, there would be Republicans that stayed home,” Patterson said.
The bill targeting Trump’s taxes came with a pressing deadline, and the Supreme Court’s decision provides clarity ahead of a key date. The law Newsom signed would have required those running for president to submit their tax returns to Secretary of State Alex Padilla by Nov. 26 in order to appear on the primary ballot.
I said this was a waste of time back in May and that it would never survive SCOTUS if it got there when Newsom signed it in July, but it ended up not even surviving state courts.
Other states have similar bills pending, but I would almost certainly expect them to be scrapped after this. If it can't even pass California's courts, there's no possible fate for this but a 9-0 drubbing by the Roberts Court.
This was a stupid idea six months ago, it's a stupid idea now, and it's going to be even more stupid to appeal it. Let it go, guys. The Constitution is pretty clear about what the requirements for running for President are, and "your tax returns" isn't in there.
Besides, since the whole point was to expose Trump's tax returns (and let's not pretend that anything else was the motive) that's being fought in federal courts by House Democrats currently. Let's stick to that and not open up the 55-gallon worm drum of red states being able to name their own requirements for who gets on the 2020 ballot, shall we?