California scheme to require Trump tax returns for ballot access could backfire spectacularly

California has long been established as one of the footholds of the “resistance”, with lawmakers in the ultra-liberal state taking aim at President Trump in a number of outlandish ways.

For many, the key to stymying the President now lies in obtaining copies of the real estate mogul’s personal tax returns – at least now that the “RussiaGate” conspiracy theory has been blown to bits by investigation architect Robert Mueller’s own testimony before Congress.

The House Judiciary committee has attempted to obtain these tax documents through their subpoena power, with the White House working litigiously to block such a move on the grounds the Commander in Chief’s finances are still under audit by the IRS.  In a brazen attempt to sidestep this road block, California lawmakers are attempting to make a public release of a candidate’s tax returns a prerequisite for ballot access in The Golden State.

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It looks as though this maneuver could backfire spectacularly, however.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law in July that requires all presidential candidates on the state’s primary ballot to release their tax returns for the preceding five years. But a constitutional amendment passed by California voters in 1972 may prevent that law from being enforced.

The new law, SB 27, applies to all candidates, but was aimed at Trump, who has not yet released his tax returns. It would not prevent him from appearing on the general election ballot in California, but its backers argued that it would be an important precedent that could put new pressure on the president.

Here’s where it gets hairy:

However, critics argued that the new law was unconstitutional, based on legal precedents that struck down extra requirements for the office of president that went further than the simple prescriptions in Article II of the U.S. Constitution.

So how exactly could the law be challenged?

In addition, the San Francisco Chronicle points out, there could be state constitutional provisions that bar the new law as well:

Forty-seven years ago, California’s voters opened the state’s presidential primaries to all nationally recognized candidates.

[I]n 1972, 61% of the state’s voters approved Proposition 4, a state constitutional amendment, which said the presidential primary ballot must list “recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California,” as determined by the secretary of state.

The Secretary of State of California still believes that the newly minted law could keep Trump off the ballot, but that theory will be challenged in court later in September.

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