It isn’t just your Democratic friends that Donald Trump’s election and presidency have caused to obsess in an unhealthy manner. The entire state of California just can’t move on with life. Bitter and angry, it is somewhere between the second and third stages of grief ( denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). If the state had knees, it would be going down on one, and screaming.
The legislature has passed a law requiring that Presidential candidates who want to appear on the California ballot would have to release their previous five years of tax returns. Tax returns are part of the impeachment crowd’s imaginary smoking gun evidence package. As with the emoluments clause, the Russian conspiracy theory and the “he’s not sufficiently like other Presidents so he must be insane” argument, the Trump-Obsessed are certain that if we just knew the truth about what was in the President’s tax returns, reversing the election would just be a few creative steps away.
Senate Bill 149 passed on September 15, and it is waiting for Governor Brown’s signature. Brown has not always been a fan of releasing candidate tax returns, like his own, for example. He released his tax returns in his first two gubernatorial races, but not in 2010 or 2014 , after his opponents refused to release theirs. I’m sure Brown will sign the bill, though. He has shown less and less inclination to restrain his increasingly alienated state’s political over-reach.
The real problem with the proposed law is that it’s unconstitutional. While the A 1995 Supreme Court decision, United States Term Limits v. Thornton, held that states can impose reasonable procedural requirements for federal candidates for Congress to get on state ballots, it also emphatically rejected the existence of state power to impose additional qualifications for federal office. The Constitution’s list of requirements are, the court stated, immutable and exclusive, unless there is a Constitutional amendment. Our law of the land provides that Presidents must be natural born citizens and at least 35 years old, and that’s that.
Since this is an anti-Trump law, there have been so dearth of legal scholars who will abandon their integrity to claim that California can require a potential President to do what no other citizen can be forced to, because it’s just a reasonable procedural requirement, like getting names on a petition. It isn’t, though. If California got away with this, other states could require blood oaths, or sworn statements of marital fidelity. The ABA Journal suggests that a challenge to the law on Constitutional grounds would be a close call, but the ABA is also a political organization with its own judgment addled by anti-Trump bias. This is wishful thinking. There is no chance that this law wouldn’t be overturned by the Supreme Court. It might well be over-turned unanimously.
Ah, but it it makes poor California feel better, maybe the exercise is worth it. Anything to move on to depression and acceptance.