President Donald Trump and the Republican Party filed lawsuits on Tuesday against the state of California for enacting a law that requires presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in California.
Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 27. The new law requires candidates for president and governor to submit copies of every income tax return they filed with the Internal Revenue Service over the last five years at least 98 days before the state’s primary election.
In response, Trump sued the state of California in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. Trump’s suit names California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The lawsuit argues federal law does not allow states to impose their own qualifications for federal office.
“The Democratic Party is on a crusade to obtain the president’s federal tax returns in the hopes of finding something they can use to harm him politically,” Trump’s lawsuit states. “In their rush to join this crusade, California Democrats have run afoul of these restrictions on state power over federal elections.”
Likewise on Tuesday, three California voters, the California Republican Party and the Republican National Committee jointly sued the state, also in the federal court for the Eastern District of California. The Republican Party lawsuit names Newsom and Padilla.
Both Trump and the Republican Party allege in their suits that SB 27 constitutes a violation of the First Amendment. Additionally, the the state Republican Party and its chairwoman, Jessica Patterson, filed a writ with the California Supreme Court asking that SB 27 be declared unconstitutional.
“The California and U.S. constitutions are crystal clear on theses issues,” Patterson said in a statement. “Governor Newsom should have followed the lead of his predecessor, Governor Brown, and vetoed this proposal. Instead, precious time and resources must be spent in state and federal court to rule on this crystal clear issue.”
Patterson also accuses Newsom and California’s Democratic-controlled Legislature of adopting the law in attempt to suppress Republican turnout during the primary election.
“Historically, voter turnout is driven by the top of the ticket races — and by attempting to remove those top ticket candidates, Governor Newsom and the Democratic Legislature who adopted this measure are hoping to keep Republicans home,” Patterson said. “Their goal is to ensure Democrat candidates qualify in California’s ‘top two’ open primary system — and keep Republicans off the general election ballot in November. It’s unconscionable to use these political tricks and underhanded tactics to influence elections.”
Last week, Newsom said in a signing statement that California is within its constitutional right to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns and that U.S. Constitution give states the authority to determine how their electors are chosen.
“These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence,” Newsom said. “The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”