A federal judge ruled in favor of President Trump on Tuesday against a California presidential primary bill recently passed by Democrats and signed into law by progressive Gov. Gavin Newsom requiring candidates, including the president, to provide five years of tax returns in order to appear on the 2020 primary ballot. The new law was designed with the obvious intent to force Trump in particular to hand over his long-sought after tax returns.
“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,”
England, a George W. Bush-appointee, argued in his decision that the law violates the First Amendment rights of candidates, particularly Trump, who, England underscored, appears to have been targeted by the Democrats’ new law.
Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday to celebrate the ruling and chide the “fake news” media for largely ignoring his big “VICTORY.”
“I won the right to be a presidential candidate in California, in a major Court decision handed down yesterday,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “It was filed against me by the Radical Left Governor of that State to tremendous Media hoopla. The VICTORY, however, was barely covered by the Fake News. No surprise!”
I won the right to be a presidential candidate in California, in a major Court decision handed down yesterday. It was filed against me by the Radical Left Governor of that State to tremendous Media hoopla. The VICTORY, however, was barely covered by the Fake News. No surprise!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2019
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has announced that he will appeal the ruling.
“California will appeal this ruling and we will continue to make our thorough, thoughtful argument for stronger financial disclosure requirements for presidential and gubernatorial candidates,” Padilla said in a statement Tuesday reported by Fox News. “Our elected leaders have a legal and moral obligation to be transparent with voters about potential conflicts of interest. This law is fundamental to preserving and protecting American democracy.”
Newsom signed Senate Bill 27, the so-called “Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act,” into law in July. The law would have required all primary candidates to turn over their most recent five years of tax returns by the November deadline in order to appear on the primary ballot. The law did not apply to the general election. The bill reads in part:
This bill would enact the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, which would require a candidate for President, in order to have the candidate’s name placed upon a primary election ballot, to file the candidate’s income tax returns for the 5 most recent taxable years with the Secretary of State, as specified. The act would require the Secretary of State, within 5 days of receiving the returns, to make redacted versions of the returns available to the public on the Secretary of State’s internet website. This bill would impose the same requirements on candidates for Governor.
Trump’s legal team filed a lawsuit against the bill in August maintaining that the law unconstitutionally added additional requirements for presidential candidates and potentially violated voters’ First Amendment rights. Other legal arguments presented in similar suits argued that the law would suppress Republican voter turnout.