Judge Blocks California Law Targeting Trump Over Tax Returns

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Posted: Oct 02, 2019 7:30 AM
Judge Blocks California Law Targeting Trump Over Tax Returns

Source: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, Pool

A federal judge temporarily blocked a California law that would’ve required President Trump to release his tax returns in order to appear on the state’s primary ballot.

U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr., a George W. Bush appointee, said in his written opinion that the law likely violates the Constitution. 

Candidates for president or governor would’ve needed to disclose five years of their personal income tax returns to appear on the ballot under the law.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said he signed the law because California has a "special responsibility" to hold candidates to high ethical standards. The Trump campaign sued, arguing the law seeks to add another qualification for running for president, something state governments don't have the authority to do.

In his 24-page ruling, Morrison wrote the state's concerns are "both legitimate and understandable," highlighting that candidates have offered "unnecessary and irrelevant excuses for shielding the public from such information."

"It is not the job of the courts, however, to decide whether a tax return disclosure requirement is good policy or makes political sense," wrote Morrison, who was appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush. "Instead, it is the court's job to make sure the Constitution wins."

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said he will appeal the ruling, asserting "this law is fundamental to preserving and protecting American democracy." (AP)

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow praised the move Tuesday night on Fox News's "Hannity."

"This is the ongoing pattern and practice of trying to basically shred the Constitution," he said of the law. "What California tried to do was add a requirement to the Constitution so that if you didn't produce your tax returns, you didn't appear on the ballot -- we challenged that in federal court."

California's chief elections officer announced his plan to appeal the decision.

Update: President Trump weighed in on Twitter: