Gavin Newsom

Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at his gubernatorial campaign’s primary night watch party in San Francisco, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Several months back, the freedom loving legislators out in California decided it’d be totally constitutional to pass a law keeping Donald Trump off their state ballot if he doesn’t turn over his tax returns to them. In what was practically an extortion attempt, they sought to disenfranchise millions of Republican voters based on an arbitrary requirement above and beyond what federal law requires. It’s wasn’t quite a poll tax, but it’s wasn’t much better.

This led to Republicans suing to block the move.

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.”

Now, we’ve got a decision that’s been handed down and it’s not good news for Gavin Newsom and crew.

A federal judge on Thursday handed President Donald Trump a victory in his effort to keep his financial information secret, siding with his campaign’s effort to block a California law aimed at forcing him to release his tax returns.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. comes as the president faces multiple Democratic-led efforts to force him to reveal his returns. Also Thursday, Trump sued to block New York prosecutors from their push obtain the returns as part of a criminal investigation.

You can almost feel the sadness in ABC News’ write-up. They had to get their jab in there about the judge being a Bush appointee, although I’ve been assured there are no such thing as Bush, Obama, or Trump judges. Funny how that rule goes out the window when it’s a Republican appointed to the bench.

Trump has bucked decades of precedent by refusing to release them, arguing they are under audit.

The above statement is irrelevant. A state simply can’t add additional requirements for being president outside of what the constitituion requires. What’s to stop a state from passing laws that keep Democrats off the ballot? Or certain age ranges? Oddly enough, CA’s former governor, Jerry Brown, got this right. He vetoed a similar bill in 2017, arguing it was a dangerous precedent.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, vetoed similar tax return legislation in 2017, arguing it would create a slippery slope of putting extra requirements on presidential candidates.

Of course it’s a slippery slope. It’s none of Gavin Newsom’s business who his citizens choose to vote for and it’s certainly not his job, nor the job of the Democrat dominated legislature, to put barriers up in order to stop them from voting for a certain person. Is Donald Trump over 35 and a native born citizen? He’s eligible, period. Arguments about tax returns are not an excuse to deny voters the right to vote for who they want. This is no different than Jim Crow era laws keeping black Americans off ballots because they didn’t meet certain, extra-constitutional criteria. Even if you think Trump should release his tax returns, that can’t be used to deny people their right to vote for their preferred candidate.

This ruling happened at the District Court level within the Eastern District of California, so you can bet it will be appealed and end up at the Ninth Circuit. They’ll likely overturn the ruling and then the Supreme Court will have to smack them down yet again. That cycle has become fairly predictable, as we now live under Trump law, i.e. everything Trump does must be opposed regardless of the legal facts at play.

This ordeal doesn’t hold much practical value because Trump doesn’t really need to be on California’s primary ballot to win. But this could stop other states from trying similar stunts. Let’s hope sanity prevails here sooner rather than later.

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