California Passes Bill To Take Trump Off 2020 Ballot Unless He Hands Over Tax Returns!


Three months ago, the state of California threatened to refuse to allow President Trump’s name to appear on the ballot unless he turned over his tax returns.

Now, Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that would require presidential candidates to submit 5 years of tax records or else be refused from appearing on the primary election ballot.

Here’s a video on the details of this breaking news:

The constitutionality of this bill signed by Newsom is highly questionable and is being contested by Republicans.

Take a look at news of this that is circulating on Twitter:

Politico has more details on the bill Newsom signed:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom embraced a politically explosive and legally dubious attempt to pry loose President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Tuesday, signing legislation that would boot Trump from California primary ballots if he doesn’t make his filings public.

For Democrats who wield absolute control over Sacramento, the measure offered a chance to directly confront a president who is deeply unpopular among most California voters — and for Newsom to escalate his long-standing feud with the president while distinguishing himself from Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed a similar measure in 2017.

    

 

Newsom rarely hesitates to throw punches at Trump, habitually assailing the president on Twitter as the California Department of Justice challenges the administration over dozens of policies. Before becoming governor, Newsom regularly called out Trump for not disclosing his tax returns and insinuated that Trump was hiding damaging information.

Signaling that a lawsuit was likely forthcoming, counsel to the president Jay Sekulow said in an email that “the State of California’s attempt to circumvent the Constitution will be answered in court.” 

Trump has sued to rebuff House Democrats who are subpoenaing his tax returns and challenged New York officials who enacted a law that could expose the president’s financial records.

And Newsom's signature could push his already-contentious relationship with Trump into volatile new territory — potentially imperiling California's relationship with Washington.

In his signing message, Newsom wrote that in "extraordinary times," state officials "have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence."

"This law should be a national standard," Newsom wrote, underscoring his long-standing push to position California as a model for anti-Trumpism, a framing that has helped elevate Newsom to a national figure.

The New York Times also said:

President Trump will not be eligible for California’s primary ballot unless he releases his tax returns, under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday.

The law requires that all presidential candidates release their tax returns in order to be placed on the ballot for the state’s primary next year, in a move that will almost certainly lead to legal challenges. Mr. Newsom’s decision to sign the legislation seemed designed to escalate a running feud between the White House and California.

The state is currently involved in more than 40 lawsuits with the Trump administration on issues ranging from environmental regulation to immigration.

The California State Legislature approved a similar measure in 2017, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it, questioning whether it was constitutional. Mr. Brown, who left office in January, also said it would create a precedent for requiring other information — including medical records or certified birth certificates — from candidates.

Mr. Newsom sent mixed messages on whether he would sign the law, but finally did so on the final day before the bill would become law without his signature. The legislation does not explicitly cite Mr. Trump, but lawmakers made no secret that he was the target when they passed the bill along party lines.

The law, which goes into effect immediately, requires candidates for president or governor to submit copies of their tax returns from the last five years with the California secretary of state at least three months ahead of the state’s primary. That means Mr. Trump would have to provide his tax returns by the end of this year.

“These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement as he signed the legislation. “The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”

The governor cited several legal scholars who signaled support for such a requirement, but it will probably be left to the courts to decide.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, declined to comment on potential lawsuits, but called the legislation unconstitutional.

“The Constitution is clear on the qualifications for someone to serve as president and states cannot add additional requirements on their own,” Mr. Murtaugh said. “The bill also violates the First Amendment right of association since California can’t tell political parties which candidates their members can or cannot vote for in a primary election.”

The Trump campaign, which has been closely tracking ballot access issues for months and coordinating with the White House Counsel’s Office, is likely to respond with a lawsuit, according to an official with the campaign. That suit could potentially include a number of plaintiffs, including the Republican National Committee, the California Republican Party and the Trump campaign, but the official warned that nothing about a suit had been finalized.

Though Newsom signed the bill, this is not the end.

The Hill had the following to say about Team Trump's response:

President Trump's campaign on Tuesday slammed the passage of a California bill which would require candidates for president or governor to release five years of tax returns to appear on state ballots.

The communications director for Trump's 2020 reelection bid called the measure unconstitutional in statement to The Hill.

"There are very good reasons why the very liberal Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed this bill two years ago — it's unconstitutional and it opens up the possibility for states to load up more requirements on candidates in future elections. What's next, five years of health records?" Tim Murtaugh said.

"The Constitution is clear on the qualifications for someone to serve as president and states cannot add additional requirements on their own. The bill also violates the 1st Amendment right of association since California can't tell political parties which candidates their members can or cannot vote for in a primary election."

Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Trump, guaranteed a legal challenge to the bill.

“The State of California’s attempt to circumvent the Constitution will be answered in court," he told The Hill.

The Federalist also commented on the unconstitutionality of the bill:

Politicians may ignore the Constitution they swore to uphold, but courts do not have that luxury. If any of these bills become laws, they will face immediate court challenges, and rightfully so. What these legislators are proposing is fairly revolutionary: they think they have the right to change the qualifications for the office of the presidency. The Hill quotes Professor Richard L. Hasen, who says on his election law blog that whether such laws pass constitutional muster is still “an open question.” In fact, any reasonable look at the law and precedents shows that these efforts are doomed to fail.

While changing the qualifications for the presidency is a new idea for state legislatures, they have meddled in federal electoral law before, specifically by attempting to impose term limits on members of Congress. Back in the early 1990s, when Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America channeled voters’ discontent with Washington into a Republican majority in Congress, term limits became popular again. The issue was not a new one. The Articles of Confederation contained term limits, and they were considered but rejected at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Their popularity waxes and wanes with the political climate, and in the 1990s they were again in vogue. After a federal constitutional amendment to limit congressional terms fell short of passage in 1995, some states enacted limits on federal officeholders on their own.

Arkansas was one of those states, and the law they passed quickly found its way into court. The case, U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, was appealed to the Supreme Court, which held that the term limits were unconstitutional. The opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens cut right to the logical inconsistency of states altering the qualifications for federal offices.

[A]s the Framers recognized, electing representatives to the National Legislature was a new right, arising from the Constitution itself. The Tenth Amendment thus provides no basis for concluding that the States possess reserved power to add qualifications to those that are fixed in the Constitution. Instead, any state power to set the qualifications for membership in Congress must derive not from the reserved powers of state sovereignty, but rather from the delegated powers of national sovereignty. In the absence of any constitutional delegation to the States of power to add qualifications to those enumerated in the Constitution, such a power does not exist.

As Stevens found in a later case on the same topic, states may be charged with administering federal elections, but they may not use that power to impose policy choices that the Constitution does not contain. Even beyond the historical precedent, the reason for this is obvious. If each state determines on its own who may be elected to federal office, the Congress would no longer be a truly federal legislature. It would revert instead to the confederal legislature created by the Articles of Confederation.

Federal Office Means Federal Qualifications

Under the Articles, states sent delegates to the Confederation Congress with delegates being “annually appointed in such manner as the legislatures of each State shall direct”. The term limits mentioned above were the only qualification the Articles imposed; beyond that, states could limit their choices however they wished, or not at all. The reason for this was that the delegates represented the states in the loose confederation in which they had agreed to be bound. That fact, more than any other, distinguishes the Articles from the Constitution that followed: no one at the federal level represented the people directly.

In writing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers changed all that. The House of Representatives was, and is, the direct representative of the people. After the Seventeenth Amendment passed in 1913, the Senate, too, became directly elected by the people. The President, then and now, is indirectly elected. But the Fourteenth Amendment effectively enshrined the right to vote for the Electoral College in law. The federal government is chosen by the people, independent of the states.

Even without the Fourteenth Amendment, the right of electors to vote for any candidate meeting the constitutional qualifications is absolute, as the faithless electors of 2016 proved. The states did not create the office of President, or any other federal office. They cannot limit them in ways the Constitution does not, and the Constitution’s limits are few: the President need only be a natural-born citizen, 35 years old, and have lived in the United States for 14 years.

We Can’t Allow States To Change the Qualifications

The logic of U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton is undeniable. If one state can impose new qualifications for reasons of term limits, then another can impose them for any other purpose. The term limits issue at least had the virtue of being a law of general application; the laws about the release of tax returns are openly based on an animus against one man: Donald Trump. But limiting the voters’ choice is constitutional for this reason, other states will not be slow to add their own politically motivated qualifications.

If the states can add the disclosure of income tax returns as a requirement, why could they not add other requirements? Could they keep candidates off the ballot if they do not own property? Or if they own too much? The Constitution imposes a minimum age of 35, but maybe some state thinks fifty is a better requirement, to ensure that a candidate has the requisite life experience. Maybe certain professional background is necessary. Could a state require a presidential candidate to have served in the military? To have held elective office? To have worked in the private sector? All of these ideas would find favor with some constituency or other.

Do you think this is unconstitutional?

Will it hold up in court?

Let us know your thoughts on Twitter!

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