Federal judge halts California law targeting Trump tax returns

A federal judge has halted a California law that would require President Trump to disclose his tax returns in order to appear on the state’s primary ballot. 

U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr., a George W. Bush appointee, on Tuesday issued a written opinion arguing the law is likely unconstitutional, according to The Associated Press. He had ordered a preliminary injunction against the law last month.

The bill, which requires all candidates for president or governor to provide five years of federal tax returns in order to appear on California’s primary ballot, was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in July.{mosads}

Trump’s legal team, along with the Republican National Committee, challenged the law in court.

England signaled in September he would block the law, arguing then that there would be “irreparable harm without temporary relief” for Trump and other candidates if he didn’t issue the preliminary injunction, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The move was praised at the time by Trump’s legal team. “We are encouraged that the federal court has tentatively concluded that a preliminary injunction should be granted. We look forward to the court’s written order,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement. “It remains our position that the law is unconstitutional because states are not permitted to add additional requirements for candidates for president, and that the law violated citizens’ 1st Amendment right of association.”

California’s chief elections officer on Tuesday said he plans to appeal the decision. “California will appeal this ruling and we will continue to make our thorough, thoughtful argument for stronger financial disclosure requirements for presidential and gubernatorial candidates,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Our elected leaders have a legal and moral obligation to be transparent with voters about potential conflicts of interest. This law is fundamental to preserving and protecting American democracy.” 

Trump is the first president in decades to not disclose his tax returns to the public. He has said he won’t do so while he’s under audit, though the IRS says audits don’t preclude candidates from providing their returns. 

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment. 

Tags Donald Trump Gavin Newsom Jay Sekulow

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