Cali judge blocks law requiring president’s tax returns to enter 2020 primary

(File photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

With Democrats having weaponized the institutions of government to target political opponents, common sense and the Constitution prevailed Thursday in a courtroom in Sacramento, Calif. At least, for the moment.

President Donald Trump saw yet another win in the courts on Thursday, as a federal judge in California issued a temporary injunction, siding with the Trump campaign to block a new law requiring presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release 5 years of tax returns to get on the ballot in the state’s primary elections, Fox News reported.

Signed into law by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in July, the measure would have forced the president to turn over five years of tax returns by Nov. 26, or be left off the primary ballot — Trump reportedly would still be on the 2020 general election ballot, according to network.

The ruling is important because it sends a message to other states contemplating the passage of similar ballot requirements.

“We are encouraged that the federal court has tentatively concluded that a preliminary injunction should be granted,” Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, said in a statement. “It remains our position that the law is unconstitutional because states are not permitted to add additional requirements for candidates for president, and that the law violated citizens’ 1st Amendment right of association.”

More on the ruling from Fox News:

U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr., who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said he would issue a final ruling by the end of the month. He said he handed down an initial order from the bench to prevent the “irreparable harm without temporary relief” for Trump and other candidates should the law go into effect, according to the Times.

Thursday’s hearing consolidated five separate lawsuits filed against the state in response to SB 27. But Trump was the most high-profile defendant. Some argue the law was politically motivated and was conjured up by Democrats who are leading a widespread push to force the president to turn over his tax returns.

“The elephant in the room is President Trump’s tax returns — that’s what this is about,” England said during the hearing in Sacramento. “But it does have implications that are far-reaching.”

 

The argument put forth by lawyers was that if candidates can be forced to turn over tax returns today to qualify for office, tomorrow it may be college transcripts or even medical records.

Lawyers from the state and national Republican parties argued that qualifications to run for president are set by the U.S. Constitution and that a federal law, the Ethics in Government Act, requiring candidates to release financial information, supersedes the state seeking additional details.

“I don’t care how you skin the cat, it’s an unconstitutional law,” Harmeet Dhillon, who represented the state and national Republican parties, said at the hearing, according to Fox News.

Dhillon told the Sacramento Bee that she met with the president earlier this week and that they discussed the lawsuit — Trump was in California attending fundraisers.

“The president was aware of the lawsuit and confident of victory,” Dhillon said. “The case law was very much on our side.”

Democrats remain adamant that the requirement is just.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, also the state’s chief elections officer, did not rule out an appeal once the final ruling comes down.

“We remain firm in our belief that SB 27 is constitutional and provides invaluable transparency for voters as they decide who will hold the most powerful office in the United States,” Padilla said in a statement.

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