Judge temporarily blocks law aimed at Trump’s tax returns | TribLIVE.com
Politics Election

Judge temporarily blocks law aimed at Trump’s tax returns

Associated Press
1750814_web1_1745190-c7a5eef378f3454eb3cf359f56a76d97
President Donald Trump speaks during an Armed Forces welcome ceremony for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A U.S. judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a California law aimed at forcing President Donald Trump to release his personal income tax returns in order to appear on the 2020 primary ballot.

U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. issued a written opinion saying the law likely violates the U.S. Constitution. He had announced last month he planned to block the law.

The law requires candidates for president or governor to file copies of their personal income tax returns dating back five years with the California secretary of state’s office. If they refuse, they could not appear on the state’s primary ballot. The law would not have applied to general elections.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said he signed the law because California has a “special responsibility” to hold candidates to high ethical standards. The Trump campaign sued, arguing the law seeks to add another qualification for running for president, something state governments don’t have the authority to do.

In his 24-page ruling, Morrison wrote the state’s concerns are “both legitimate and understandable,” highlighting that candidates have offered “unnecessary and irrelevant excuses for shielding the public from such information.”

“It is not the job of the courts, however, to decide whether a tax return disclosure requirement is good policy or makes political sense,” wrote Morrison, who was appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush. “Instead, it is the court’s job to make sure the Constitution wins.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said he will appeal the ruling, asserting “this law is fundamental to preserving and protecting American democracy.”

Morrison said the law violates Trump’s First Amendment right of associating with voters who share his political beliefs. He also noted the California Legislature is controlled by Democrats, who passed a law targeting a Republican president.

“The dangerous precedent set by this act, allowing the controlling party in any state’s legislature to add substantive requirements as a precondition to qualifying for the state’s presidential primary ballot, should concern all candidates alike,” he wrote.

California Republican Party chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson called the ruling a victory for voters and their ability to vote for the candidate of their choice.

“This decision rightfully stops the Democrats’ petty politics and their efforts to disenfranchise millions of California voters and suppress Republican voter turnout,” Patterson said in a news release.

Democratic Sen. Mike McGuire, the author of the law, said “the judge got it wrong.”

“Some of the brightest constitutional minds in the nation have been very clear that this law will withstand a constitutional test,” he said.

The deadline to file tax returns for California’s March 3 presidential primary would be Nov. 26.

Categories: News | Politics Election
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.