The California Supreme Court nullified a law that could force President Donald Trump release his tax returns for his name to appear in the state’s primary election ballot.
On Thursday, the state’s highest court ruled that key provisions of the Presidential Tax Transparency Act are invalid and unenforceable. The seven justices of the court were unanimous in their decision that the law violated the California Constitution.
Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye the court’s opinion, in which the justices stated that the Legislature exceeded its authority in requiring presidential candidates release their tax returns as a condition for printing their names in the primary election ballot.
“The Legislature may well be correct that a presidential candidate’s income tax returns could provide California voters with important information. But article II, section 5(c) embeds in the state Constitution the principle that, ultimately, it is the voters who must decide whether the refusal of a ‘recognized candidate throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States’ to make such information available to the public will have consequences at the ballot box,” wrote Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye.
In other words, California cannot enforce the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. It’s a big win for Trump as he may continue to keep his tax returns from public view.
The “movement for greater transparency will endure”
The court issued its decision before the November 26 statutory deadline for presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns to appear on the March 3, 2020 primary ballot.
In September, District Judge Morrison England, Jr. ruled that the Presidential Tax Transparency Act has “far reaching implications.” He issued a ruling temporarily blocking the enforcement of the law.
“While we are disappointed in today’s ruling, the movement for greater transparency will endure. The history of our democracy is on the side of more transparency, not less,” said California Secretary of State in response to the decision of the state’s highest court.
On the other hand, Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove, commented, “Republicans have repeatedly voiced our position that the Democrats’ Presidential Disclosure law is unconstitutional and an attempt to tamper with the Presidential primary by suppressing Republican voter turn-out. Today, the justices of the State Supreme Court validated our concerns and sided with us.”