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In win for Trump, federal court halts California tax return requirement for presidential candidates

In win for Trump, federal court halts California tax return requirement for presidential candidates

A state can no more limit eligibility to candidates who disclose tax returns than it could require that only candidates who can run a mile in under 8 minutes are eligible for the presidential ballot.

California passed a law requiring that presidential candidates disclose their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot. This is just the latest tactic various Democrat-controlled states are considering to force Trump to release his tax returns.

It’s also clearly unconstitutional. While states have control over the mechanics of voting, such as filing petitions with a certain number of signatures, they can’t impose eligibility requirements beyond what Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution provides (emphasis added):

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

A tax-return requirement on presidential candidates bears no relationship to the mechanics of voting, and is an unconstitutional eligibility test. A state can no more limit eligibility to candidates who disclose tax returns than it could require that only candidates who can run a mile in under 8 minutes are eligible for the presidential ballot.

After California imposed such a requirement, four California residents filed a Complaint seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. The plaintiffs were represented by Judicial Watch. The Complaint alleged, in part:

1. Plaintiffs are four California registered voters who seek declaratory and injunctive relief to enjoin California’s Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, S. Bill 27, 2019-2020 Reg. Sess. (Ca. 2019) (hereafter “SB 27”). This law requires all candidates who wish to participate in a California presidential primary to publicly disclose their tax returns for the past five years. Candidates who do not comply are barred from having their names printed on California’s primary ballots. Plaintiffs allege that SB 27 imposes candidate qualifications beyond those allowed by the U.S. Constitution and impermissibly burdens their federal constitutional and statutory rights.

* * *

53. SB 27 purports to add candidate qualifications to those contained in the Qualifications Clause.
54. The State of California does not have the lawful authority to impose, nor does its Secretary of State have the lawful authority to enforce, candidate qualifications beyond those contained in the Qualifications Clause.
55. SB 27 has the effect of handicapping a class of candidates who choose not to supply their tax returns.
56. SB 27 has the sole purpose of indirectly adding additional qualifications to those set forth in the Qualifications Clause.

Trump also filed a Complaint as did others, and they were consolidated with the Judicial Watch case

At a hearing today, the court granted a Temporary Restraining Order from the bench. The L.A. Times reports:

U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. said he would issue a final ruling by the end of the month but took the unusual step of issuing the tentative order from the bench. He said there would be “irreparable harm without temporary relief” for Trump and other candidates from the law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July.

England spent much of the court proceeding on the question of whether a longstanding federal financial disclosure law preempts any additional rules that a state could impose. The federal law, known as the Ethics In Government Act, or EIGA, was originally passed in 1978 and applies to a range of top federal officials. Trump has filed the annual report, most recently in May, which provides an overview of his finances.

“Do we even need to get here if EIGA preempts [the new California law]?,” England asked attorneys for the state. “Is that it?”

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued the following statement on the ruling:

California politicians, in their zeal to attack President Trump, passed a law that also unconstitutionally victimizes California voters and the Constitution.  A federal court seems to agree and granted our request for a preliminary injunction that stops this scheme from interfering with the 2020 elections.

Under the law, known as the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, candidates who do not publicly disclose their tax returns for the past five years were barred from having their names printed on California’s primary ballots. In its lawsuit challenging the requirement on behalf of four California voters—two Republicans, a Democrat, and an Independent—Judicial Watch argued that SB 27 imposes candidate qualifications beyond those allowed by the U.S. Constitution and impermissibly burdens a voters’ expressive constitutional and statutory rights. The lawsuit claims violations of the U.S. Constitution’s Qualifications Clause, the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988 (Jerry Griffin et al. v. Alex Padilla (No. 2:19-cv-01477)).

Senior Attorney Russ Nobile presented arguments today on behalf of Judicial Watch.

 

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Comments

Some things are so stupid you would think even the progs wouldn’t waste time with it.

But no, they are not bright enough to even see stupidity when it hits them over the head with a clue by four.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Barry. | September 19, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    Nothing in the universe is “TOO STUPID” for a Prog, which is to say a Democrat, which is to say a Leftist, which is to say a Communist……

    mailman in reply to Barry. | September 20, 2019 at 8:21 am

    I guess its all about the virtue signal to the base. These are the idiots that eat this kind of shit up.

Interesting ruling in going this route rather than saying the Federal rule preempted the State requirement. I’m wondering how this is going to intersect with other ballot access rules like having to file petitions or be nominated by a recognized party to appear on a ballot. That would seem to fall under this ruling as well. When people started talking about this I was thinking the Dems might want to let sleeping dogs lie but they just can’t keep themselves from kicking the doozing mutt.

If California persists, which they will, its 55 electoral votes should be nullified.

Subotai Bahadur | September 19, 2019 at 9:40 pm

1) I rather assume that this will be appealed to the 9th Circus on October 1, and decided pretty much instantly. And thence to the Supremes with every hope that RBG will not be prevented by rigor mortis from voting against Trump.

2) If California does manage to keep him off the ballot and is later over-ruled, will California’s electoral votes count?

3) Then there is the matter of the NPV movement to functionally abolish the Electoral College. If those states trying to bar Trump from the ballot get similarly over-ruled, it may be an interesting final vote count.

Subotai Bahadur

“than it could require that only candidates who can run a mile in under 8 minutes are eligible for the presidential ballot”

That’d bounced everyone! Trump included. But I really would like to see de Blasio run that race. lol,

Who’s your favorite?

I can think of no better way to get a record Republican turnout in all states than California successfully keeping Trump off the ballot. Followed by thr newly Republican dominated House refusing to seat ANY representatives from CA since they were denied the right to vote for anyone they wanted to in the general election due to their repugnant jungle primary system. No provision for write in votes should they find both candidates unworthy of their vote.

Considering all the other issues in California these days it was a total waste of time and resources on this charade by the powers to be.

The Cal. law set qualifications for a “primary” election. Does the Federal gov’t/US Constitution have a “say” in a primary election which is a political “party” selection process? If that is so, how can criteria be established to be on a Dem/Repub. primary ballot?

    rdm in reply to SHV. | September 20, 2019 at 5:51 am

    Does the state of California have a say in that, under that theory?

      Milhouse in reply to rdm. | September 20, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Yes, because it runs the primary. If the Republicans want to run their own primary, at their own expense, they can do that and set their own rules.

        Provided state law allows for it. I lived for a time in a state that prescribed a single primary ballot with all candidates listed, but the top vote-getters from each recognized party was deemed nominated, even if two or more of a different party received more votes.

        The state’s GOP didn’t like that, since it meant Democrats could smorgasbord the primary and monkey-wrench their nominating process. So the Republicans started a separate primary open only to voters who were not registered with any other recognized political party.

        This went on for at least a few election cycles, but finally the courts struck it down because statutory law explicitly prescribed the single-ballot primary for all candidates. I had left the state by then, but I believe the law has been changed to provide the various parties a little more security, if they want it, over who votes in their primaries.

          Milhouse in reply to McGehee. | September 20, 2019 at 2:41 pm

          Which state was this? Because I’m pretty sure the constitution protects the parties’ right to do just that if they like.

    GWB in reply to SHV. | September 20, 2019 at 10:31 am

    This was my question – it’s for the state primary.

    Lots of states have requirements for primaries, though yes, most are mechanical in nature (like registration deadlines).

    But, what about laws that do things like keep you from being a write-in if you lost a primary? Not allowing people to campaign as a write-in? How far afield are we already in letting states put more requirements on “federal” elections?

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | September 20, 2019 at 12:35 am

Rack up another WIN for President Trump.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBQNTokxj4Q

MUST SEE – Chris Cuomo Completely SHOCKED Rudy Giuliani EXPOSES Biden and Clinton’s Horrifying Truth in Ukraine

Brave Sir Robbin | September 20, 2019 at 2:19 am

The US constitution was not written for the sort of presidential election we have today. Originally it was only the state electors who voted. They also nominated the candidates. Where where no parties, primaries, etc. When we removed this process we created a structural problem. The states do in fact place many restrictions beyond the constitution on who may be placed on a ballot. This will not be easy for the court to solve without wider ramifications.

There are still some of us who insist that the income tax itself is unconstitutional. .

    Pasadena Phil: There are still some of us who insist that the income tax itself is unconstitutional.

    Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

      mailman in reply to Zachriel. | September 20, 2019 at 8:22 am

      Im pretty sure PP is merely pointing out there are some who argue pointless points…which I guess is a great analogy for liberals in general.

      As a rule, these are people who raise questions about how the 16th Amendment was declared ratified. It’s actually a fascinating subject, though simply repealing the damned thing would settle all of the questions they raise.

        artichoke in reply to McGehee. | September 20, 2019 at 1:54 pm

        First we’d have to go a long way down Trump’s road of meaningful tariffs, for the government to be able to fund itself again without an income tax.

      artichoke in reply to Zachriel. | September 20, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      As a side note that’s still not a wealth tax. So in addition to many other problems, the Dem wealth-tax idea is unconstitutional.

      I guess Biden’s the nominee. He’s the only one who stands on stage and reminds people there is a constitution.

      DaveGinOly in reply to Zachriel. | September 22, 2019 at 12:36 am

      Yes, Z, we know what it says. Do you know why it was written? An earlier income tax was challenged in 1895 in Pollock v Farmers Loan and Trust. The court found that although the income tax was constitutional as an indirect tax, because in its administration it was indistinguishable from a direct tax, it was therefore unconstitutional for not being apportioned. (The principle is that a statute must be constitutional in its letter and in its function/application.)

      The 16th Amendment was written to prevent a similar challenge to future taxes. In 1916, in Stanton v Baltic Mining Co. (handed down the same day as Brushaber v Pacific RR, another income tax case), SCOTUS declared that the 16th Amendment gave the Congress no new powers of taxation.

      Income taxes have always been authorized by the Constitution. The 16th Amendment protects subsequent income taxes from being declared unconstitutional even when in their administration they function as if they are direct taxes. (In Stanton, SCOTUS also said the amendment did not abolish the distinction between the two types of taxes.)

      Pollock proves that an act of Congress authorized by the Constitution (prima facie evidence of constitutionality) is not necessarily constitutional. Modern objections to the income tax are of a similar nature. Today’s income tax is likewise unconstitutional due to its effect, even though its letter is lawful. There is not the space to go into why this is so. That’s another subject entirely. The points to take from this are 1.) a tax on incomes is, and always has been, authorized by the Constitution; 2.) the 16th Amendment was written in response to the findings of SCOTUS in Pollock to protect a future income tax (our current tax) from a similar challenge; and 3.) that “authorized by the Constitution” does not necessarily equate with “constitutional.”

        DaveGinOly: The court found that although the income tax was constitutional as an indirect tax, because in its administration it was indistinguishable from a direct tax, it was therefore unconstitutional for not being apportioned.

        That’s right, though it isn’t clear what point you are trying to make. The 16th Amendment removes the requirement of apportionment for the income tax, whether interest, dividend, or not.

The ruling would leave it as constitutional a law requiring that a candidate produce proof that he/she meets constitutional requirements for president for ballot access. This would have been a legitimate method for Obama birthers (I am not one) to have forced the proof of US birth.

the Ethics In Government Act, or EIGA
Is it just me, or did anyone else not hear that in their head as the sound of an old cartoon car horn? E-iiiiiiiiii-GA!

I don’t understand this at all. This is not about the general election, it’s about the primary, which has nothing to do with the constitution. How can any restriction on a primary be unconstitutional? California is not required to run primaries for the parties in the first place. If it chooses to do so, how can it not have the right to decide their rules? If a party doesn’t like them, it can choose to run its own primary, or some other selection process, whatever it chooses, at its own expense.

Now if this had been about access to the ballot in November that would have been blatantly unconstitutional, which is exactly why California didn’t do that.

    California having chosen to operate the primary election, nevertheless remains subject to the requirements of the U.S. Constitution in how it does so.

    If California wishes for there to be requirements on the primary election that would not pass muster with federal courts, it must, ahem, hand off the operation of said primaries to private entities.

      artichoke in reply to McGehee. | September 20, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      The California Democrat Party, or whatever they call themselves, is just a corporation. At least that’s how I’ve explained our system who people have asked about how it really works.

      Why didn’t the FBI fail in its duty to protect the DNC from “Russian meddling” or whatever, from having its data stolen? Because the FBI has no duty to defend the DNC, the RNC or any other corporation.

      Milhouse in reply to McGehee. | September 20, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      California having chosen to operate the primary election, nevertheless remains subject to the requirements of the U.S. Constitution in how it does so.

      But the constitution has no such requirements.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Milhouse. | September 20, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    I think it is a potentially troubling question. If the only way to get onto a ballot in the general election is run through a bunch of hoops the state mandates for a primary or any other system, paperwork, deadlines, filing fees, signatures, disclosures, or running an 8 minute mile or supplying tax returns, does this not add requirements for office not specified in the constitution? The open question is what power does a state have to place any limit, restriction, restraint, or requirement on who can run for president, or, for that matter, a house or senate candidate. So I agree with Milhouse that a political party SHOULD be able to do anything it wants, but that is not in fact how it works. The state has inserted itself into the process with various mandates, requirements, and limitations on who can be considered for office outside and beyond the constitutional requirements. The question before the court is tricky indeed with potentially far ranging ramifications.

      If the only way to get onto a ballot in the general election is run through a bunch of hoops the state mandates for a primary or any other system, paperwork, deadlines, filing fees, signatures, disclosures, or running an 8 minute mile or supplying tax returns, does this not add requirements for office not specified in the constitution?

      Yes, but that isn’t the only way to get on the ballot in November. The way to get on the CA ballot as the GOP candidate is to be nominated by the GOP national convention. CA will list whomever the GOP nominates, regardless of whether he was on the ballot for the CA primary. They had to do that, for this law to be constitutional. And since they did do that, I believe the law is constitutional.

      The state has inserted itself into the process with various mandates, requirements, and limitations on who can be considered for office outside and beyond the constitutional requirements.

      No, it hasn’t and can’t.

    California does not have to run the primaries for party’s. They cannot however prevent candidates from running for a party nomination. And that is what they attempted to do here, stop trump from being on the republican primary ballot. They have no right to do so.

      Milhouse in reply to Barry. | September 20, 2019 at 2:47 pm

      CA is not preventing anyone from seeking the GOP nomination. It’s just preventing them from competing in a primary that it runs. What the GOP should do with the results of that primary is entirely up to the GOP.

        “CA is not preventing anyone from seeking the GOP nomination.”

        Of course it is. That’s the whole point of this unconstitutional exercise.

          Milhouse in reply to Barry. | September 22, 2019 at 12:17 am

          No, it isn’t. Anyone can seek the GOP nomination. It’s up to the GOP to decide whom it wants, and it doesn’t have to take the CA primary into account if it doesn’t want to. Of course if it chooses to accept the CA primary results and seat the delegates chosen by that primary, it can do so, but then it isn’t CA imposing these conditions, it’s the GOP, which is entitled to impose whatever conditions it likes.

        Ulysses in reply to Milhouse. | September 21, 2019 at 9:04 am

        CA is not preventing anyone from seeking the GOP nomination. It’s just preventing them from competing in a primary that it runs

        A spectacularly noodle headed statement. Sort of “I voted for the bill before I voted against it”. Time for you to double down and post below. You know you cant resist ….

I don’t see this as a win.

(1) It’s an infringement on states’ rights and the independence of states in the Electoral College.

(2) It has no effect on Trump’s reelection. It’s for a Republican primary in a state that WILL be won by the Democrat candidate. Formally Trump has standing, but realistically he shouldn’t have bothered.

(3) In another thread the question arises of what to do about so many Muslims running. I commented in response to Milhouse that I don’t see why Muslims could not be banned from Congress, constitutionally. So that idea comes up, but simultaneously we read over here of the federal courts asserting jurisdiction over state-level ballots, a way that could be used to implement a Muslim ban.

    Milhouse in reply to artichoke. | September 20, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    It has no effect on Trump’s reelection. It’s for a Republican primary in a state that WILL be won by the Democrat candidate

    That’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter who will win CA. The relevant point here is that Trump will be on the CA ballot in Nov. This law does not even attempt to prevent him. And the reason it makes no such attempt is that its framers knew full well that that would be struck down. As far as I can tell, any state is free to make such a rule for its state-run primaries, and any party is free not to seat the delegates selected in such a primary.

      “The relevant point here is that Trump will be on the CA ballot in Nov.”

      Explain then, what exactly is California trying to do? The whole point of this unconstitutional exercise is to keep Trump off the ballot.

        Milhouse in reply to Barry. | September 22, 2019 at 12:19 am

        Its purpose is to keep him off the primary ballot. But the November ballot will have whomever the GOP convention nominates, which will be Trump. There’s nothing CA can do about that, and it knows very well that the courts won’t let it even try, so it didn’t.

          DaveGinOly in reply to Milhouse. | September 22, 2019 at 12:50 am

          A plan by government to do that which is unconstitutional is not less unconstitutional for being impractical or ineffective.

Brave Sir Robbin | September 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm

“I don’t see why Muslims could not be banned from Congress, constitutionally.”

USC Article VI, 3: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Muslims cannot be prohibited from being elected as long as they meet the minimum requirements set forth in the constitution (age, citizenship, residency). To serve they must make an oath or affirmation to support the constitution. If they fail in that regard, with intent or otherwise, they may be removed from office by various means such as rejection by the electorate in the next election or ejection from the legislative body by the rules and processes allowed.

If you can ban Muslims from election and service, you can ban anyone affiliated with any religion or, indeed, any perceived strongly held value or affection that could potentially override the oath of office to the perception of those people who you would give the power to make such a ban. A slippery slope, indeed. Let’s allow the electorate such power, and only the electorate, via the electoral process.

    You’re right, son of a gun.

    The problem is that Islam is well designed to subvert a system like ours. Muslims get up and tell us what their constitutional rights are, and this is a traditionally Christian and Jewish country, peoples whose rights they have attacked for centuries.

      Milhouse in reply to artichoke. | September 20, 2019 at 2:54 pm

      Islam was designed long before systems like ours existed. Therefore it cannot have been designed to subvert them. Our system, however, was designed by people who were well aware of Islam, and consciously intended the Religious Test clause, as well as the first amendment, to protect Islam.

      As far as they were concerned there was absolutely no difference between Islam and Judaism. If you claim these clauses don’t protect Islam, then they don’t protect Judaism either, and that’s a position the founders repeatedly rejected.

I must have misread Mr Jacobsen’s description because another source says the ruling is based on the Ethics in Government Act preempting the CA rule.

In regards to why the Feds care about a primary – I recall reading that CA has adopted a state-run ‘jungle primary’ system for all offices with the provision that no write-ins are allowed on the general election ballot. So effectively not allowing Trump on the primary ballot means there is no way for him to appear on the general election ballot.

The ruling actually keeps the CA Dems from stepping on a huge rake. If the ruling had been that ballot access rules are impermissible as additional qualifications it would have thrown our entire primary and general election process into huge disarray.

    1. The jungle primary does not apply to presidential primaries. It can’t, because those don’t choose a candidate, they only choose delegates to the party conventions, so the whole concept doesn’t apply. How would a jungle primary even work for that purpose? If two Dems come out on top, CA would send two sets of delegates to the Dem convention and none to the Rep convention?!

    2. In November the CA ballot will have whomever the GOP nominates, regardless of whether that person was on the primary ballot.

Virtue signaling accomplished.

Even they knew this law had zero chance of surviving review–it is facially unconstitutional. But they scored some SJW virtue-points, which is all they were really interested in to start with.

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