California Supreme Court Kills Law Requiring Trump to Release Tax Returns
Written by Luis Miguel
The California Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down a state law that would have required President Trump to publicly release his tax returns to appear on the state primary ballot.
CA SB27 (19R), signed into law by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in July, requires candidates running for president and governor to disclose their tax returns for the last five years. It has largely been seen as a swipe at President Trump, who has not released his tax returns.
But the court’s ruling that the legislation “is in conflict with the [state] constitution’s specification of an inclusive open presidential primary ballot” marks an end to the hopes of the law’s proponents. It cannot be appealed further.
California’s constitution requires the state to 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.”
In its ruling, the Sacramento-based court wrote:
This additional requirement, however, is in conflict with the Constitution’s specification of an inclusive open presidential primary ballot. The Legislature may well be correct that a presidential candidate’s income tax returns could provide California voters with important information. But article II, section 5(c) embeds in the state Constitution the principle that, ultimately, it is the voters who must decide whether the refusal of a “recognized candidate throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States” to make such information available to the public will have consequences at the ballot box.
In other words, it’s up to voters — not the state legislature — to decide whether a candidate’s refusal to release his tax returns should be held against him.
Some of the justices argued that the law would set a “slippery slope precedent” that would pave the way for a “laundry list of requirements.”
“Where does it end?” asked Justice Ming Chin. “Do we get all high school report cards?”
Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye asked attorneys representing the California legislature if lawmakers even considered whether their bill was in line with the state constitution.
“We’ve searched the record to determine whether or not the California Legislature even considered the California constitution in the drafting of SB 27,” Cantil-Sakauye said. “We didn’t find anything. Did you?”
“Whatever authority the Legislature may have in defining how presidential primaries are to occur in this state, the challenged sections of the act exceed such authority and are unenforceable,” he added.
The justices’ remarks echoed arguments made by former Governor Jerry Brown when he vetoed a similar measure in 2017.
“Lawmakers didn’t even take into account the conflicts it may have with the state constitution,” said Jessica Patterson, chairwoman of the California Republican Party.
State Republicans were worried that the law would not only keep President Trump off the ballot, but also hurt Republican office-seekers across the state.
“If we didn’t have our presumed nominee on the ballot in the 2020 primary, there would be Republicans that stayed home,” Patterson said.
In September, a federal judge granted the Trump campaign’s request to temporarily halt the law. State Attorney General Alexander Padilla announced Thursday that he will dismiss his appeal of that decision.
“This is a tremendous and convincing victory that defends the First Amendment and the right of people to associate and choose their own candidates for office,” said Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president. “This should put the matter to rest for good.”
Newsom spokesman Jesse Melgar said the governor will
“continue to fight against the self-dealing, conflicts of interest and blatant corruption that have pervaded the Trump presidency” and “urge all presidential candidates to voluntarily release their tax returns.”
The governor’s office believes the law will still apply to gubernatorial candidates.
The bill came with a November 26th deadline by which candidates running for president would have had to submit their tax returns in order to appear on the primary ballot.
Under California’s “jungle primary” system, all candidates for the same office go against each other on the same ballot, regardless of party. The top two vote-getters then move on to the general election. Since its implementation in 2020, this has often resulted in Democrat vs. Democrat general election races in all but the most conservative areas.
Ten states had bills similar to California’s tax return law at the time Newsom signed it. Some may get further than the Golden State’s. A New York federal appeals court recently ruled that the president must hand over his returns to a Manhattan grand jury — a decision the Trump team is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Luis Miguel is a writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.
Courtesy of The New American