California Can’t Force Trump to Release Tax Returns: State Supreme Court

California’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday, Nov. 21, that a law requiring presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the primary ballot violates the state’s constitution.

Senate Bill No. 27, which was sponsored by the Democrats and became chapter 121 of the California Elections Code after being signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on July 30, requires the presidential candidates to file their income tax returns for the five most recent taxable years with the secretary of state to have their names on a primary election ballot. The secretary of state would make redacted versions of the returns available to the public on their website within 5 days.

The bill lays out the same requirements for the candidates for governor but applies to primary elections, not general elections.

The court said the law—the first of its kind in the nation and is widely believed to be aimed squarely at President Donald Trump, who has refused to release his tax returns, but recently said he would do so before the 2020 election—was unconstitutional because its requirement for disclosure of tax returns to qualify for the ballot added exclusivity.

“This additional requirement … is in conflict with the Constitution’s specification of an inclusive open presidential primary ballot,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the 7-0 decision. “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.”

A U.S. judge had temporarily blocked the bill from becoming state law in response to a different lawsuit and the high court ruled quickly because the deadline to file tax returns for getting on the primary ballot is next week.

The state’s Republican Party and chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson challenged the bill, saying it singled out Trump.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for every California voter,” Patterson said in a statement. “We are pleased that the courts saw through the Democrats’ petty partisan maneuvers and saw this law for what it is—an unconstitutional attempt to suppress Republican voter turnout.”

The state defended the law, saying release of tax returns was a simple way for voters to weigh candidates’ financial status.

California Democrats are one of several groups who are pushing for Trump’s tax returns to be made public. On Nov. 18, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily stopped a lower court order requiring Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, to turn over his tax returns to House Democrats amid their impeachment inquiry.

In a separate case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled in favor of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office requiring Trump’s accountants to turn over tax returns.

Trump’s attorneys submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. The justices haven’t said whether they would consider the appeal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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