Cal­i­for­nia court: Trump doesn’t need tax re­turns to be on bal­lot

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Maura Dolan and John My­ers

SAN FRANCISCO — For years, Democrats have tried to force Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to dis­close his tax re­turns, and Trump has re­sisted. The Cal­i­for­nia Leg­is­la­ture, aim­ing at the pres­i­dent, passed a law this year to try to force Trump’s hand.

On a party-line vote, law­mak­ers ap­proved a bill to re­quire pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates to dis­close five years of tax re­turns in or­der to ap­pear on the state’s primary bal­lot, the first such law in the na­tion.

It did not sur­vive even six months.

Cal­i­for­nia’s high­est court de­cided Thurs­day that the Leg­is­la­ture went too far. Though leg­is­la­tors and an­a­lysts con­sid­ered early on whether the re­quire­ment might con­flict with fed­eral law, the Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court de­ter­mined it was the state’s own Con­sti­tu­tion that barred such a con­di­tion.

Chief Jus­tice Tani G. Can­til-Sakauye, writ­ing for the court, said the Leg­is­la­ture lacked the au­thor­ity to cre­ate the “un­en­force­able” re­quire­ment. The de­ci­sion by the seven-mem­ber court — which now has a ma­jor­ity of Demo­crat-ap­pointed jus­tices — was unan­i­mous.

The case was the lat­est clash be­tween Trump and Cal­i­for­nia. The state has gone to court to chal­lenge the pres­i­dent re­peat­edly on abor­tion rights, im­mi­gra­tion and other mat­ters, and Trump, in turn, has sued the state and tried to pre­vent it from en­act­ing laws that counter his poli­cies.

His vic­tory Thurs­day, in a chal­lenge brought by the state Repub­li­can Party and its chair­woman, was de­ci­sive. Cal­i­for­nia’s top court has the fi­nal say on mat­ters of state law.

“The Leg­is­la­ture may well be cor­rect that a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date’s in­come tax re­turns could pro­vide Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers with im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion,” Can­til-Sakauye wrote.

But be­cause the state Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires in­clu­sive, open pres­i­den­tial primary elec­tions, Trump may with­hold his re­turns and vot­ers will have to de­cide whether the lack of dis­clo­sure has “con­se­quences at the bal­lot box,” she wrote.

Dur­ing a hear­ing this month, Can­til-Sakauye noted that leg­is­la­tors and an­a­lysts work­ing on the bill ap­par­ently failed to even con­sider the sec­tion of the state Con­sti­tu­tion that makes the primary bal­lot ac­ces­si­ble to all “rec­og­nized” pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates.

Repub­li­can lead­ers were ju­bi­lant. They de­nounced Democrats for fail­ing to ad­dress “real is­sues” such as power shut­downs, home­less­ness and the lack of af­ford­able hous­ing and for in­stead pur­su­ing “bad leg­is­la­tion.”

The re­quire­ment over­turned Thurs­day “in­ter­feres with our elec­tions, is un­con­sti­tu­tional, a waste of tax­payer money, and a di­rect at­tack on democ­racy,” said state Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Shan­non Grove, R-Bak­ers­field.

Democrats re­mained de­fi­ant. Jesse Mel­gar, a spokesman for Gov. Gavin New­som, who signed the bill into law, said Cal­i­for­nia would “con­tinue to fight against the self-deal­ing, con­flicts of in­ter­est and bla­tant cor­rup­tion that have per­vaded the Trump pres­i­dency.”

Even though Cal­i­for­nia’s ef­fort to force Trump’s dis­clo­sure has failed, “Congress and other states can and should take ac­tion to re­quire pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates to dis­close their tax re­turns,” Mel­gar said.

The law would have re­quired all pres­i­den­tial primary can­di­dates to sub­mit their in­come tax fil­ings by Tues­day to se­cure a spot on Cal­i­for­nia’s March 3 pres­i­den­tial primary bal­lot. State elec­tion of­fi­cials were re­quired to post the fi­nan­cial doc­u­ments on­line, with cer­tain pri­vate in­for­ma­tion redacted.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.