During last year’s presidential election cycle, then-candidate Donald Trump created a firestorm and regularly fanned the flames by repeatedly refusing to release his tax returns. While there is no actual law on the books requiring candidates for office to release such personal tax documentation for public consumption, it’s been a generally accepted tradition.
The refusal to release his tax returns was a rallying call for Democrats. Liberals, both moderates and progressives alike, united to sound the alarm at what they portrayed as totalitarian.
Does the public have a right to view a candidate’s tax return?
Legislation has been popping up around the country to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in the future. One such proposal was advanced in California by the legislature. Given that Governor Jerry Brown is a Democrat himself, this proposal was seen as a guarantee to become law.
Then Governor Brown shocked his party and political observers by shooting down the legislation with the veto pen.
Why would any Democrat oppose an issue that has been universally agreed upon by most liberals?
Governor Brown noted in his veto message there is a risk of a slippery slope. Despite the “political attractiveness” of the proposal, it has the extreme potential to be abused. What other requirements would future governments set? While on its surface, this is simply requiring tax returns to be released. At its heart, this is setting additional requirements for an office without amending the Constitution.
Does partisan politicking by Democrats warrant violating the Constitution?
It will be interesting to see how Governor Brown’s veto affects other proposals across the nation. Democrats largely are not interested in the Constitution itself and requirements set for federal office. These concerns could be brought up in a hypothetical court challenge down the road. Should Democrats waste their time on a lost cause?
It’s important to note that the Supreme Court has previously stated States cannot set additional requirements for U.S. Representatives and Senators. While it has yet to directly address the issue of presidential requirements, it’s difficult to see how it would be any different from those involving Congress.
The Constitution itself is quite clear on how to change the rules set forth, but would partisan Democrats have the numbers across the country to actually amend the Constitution to require personal documents from candidates?
It is highly unlikely, which is why Democrats have not pursued amending the Constitution. Instead, they’re opting to waste precious state resources on legislation that would likely fail the constitutionality test in court. What is the purpose of this obvious political stunt?
Governor Jerry Brown may not be an ally of President Donald Trump, the Republican Party, or conservative activists, but his decision here is the right one. While Democratic operatives and liberal activists may decry a veto perceived to be protecting President Trump, the Governor has actually made the right move in favor of the Constitution. If Democrats wish to set additional requirements for a federal office, it is necessary to amend the document that sets forth requirements.