President Trump may appear on California’s primary ballot without having to disclose his tax returns, the state’s highest court decided Thursday.
In a unanimous ruling, the California Supreme Court said the requirement that presidential candidates must disclose their tax returns to appear on the March primary ballot violates the California Constitution.
The court’s unanimous opinion by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye holds that a candidate who is “recognized,” as provided in the constitution, cannot be forced by a statute to release their tax returns as a condition of appearing on the ballot. Instead, the court concludes, as to that candidate, “it is the voters who must decide whether the refusal . . . to make such information available to the public will have consequences at the ballot box.”
The court expressly leaves open whether the tax-return-disclosure requirement applies to candidates who seek to appear on the ballot by petition. The law also apparently still applies to candidates for governor.
The court finds that the history of the constitutional mandate for “recognized” candidates to appear on the ballot “responded to concerns that voters in previous California presidential primary elections had not consistently been provided with an adequate choice among candidates for president.”