Last week California’s supremo, Gavin Newsom signed a law requiring that candidates for president and governor disclose five years’ worth of personal income tax returns in order to be allowed onto the primary ballot. The measure was aimed specifically at President Trump and seems to be rather blatantly unconstitutional. While the a state can (within reasonable, federally prescribed limits) set the time, manner, and place of election, it cannot create any new requirements for ballot access beyond those listed in the Constitution: in this case a natural born US citizen, resident in the US for 14 years, and at least 35 years of age. The Supreme Court has already ruled on this issue when it said that placing term limits was adding to the constitutional qualifications for office ( U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton). As the primary election is a party affair, the state’s interference in the ability of a party to choose the candidate of its choice is an obvious constitutional issue.
Today, the Trump campaign and the GOP filed a federal lawsuit in California seeking to have this law overturned.
The 15-page court filing alleges five counts of illegal action by California officials in enacting the tax returns law. Trump’s attorneys contend a state can only issue “procedural regulations” governing its election for president. Even if the state did have a role, the attorneys wrote, California’s law “does not serve a compelling state interest and, in any event, is not narrowly tailored to that interest.”
Republican Party officials were expected to quickly join Trump in the legal confrontation. Two other lawsuits have challenged the California law on similar grounds. One was filed Monday on behalf of a handful of state voters by the conservative-leaning group Judicial Watch. The first was filed last week by Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a California businessman who has run several low-profile campaigns for president.
Because this is California and lex Trumpis, the law of Trump, is fully in effect, we can expect the district court and Ninth Circuit to uphold this before losing in the Supreme Court.