President Trump does not have to release his tax returns to get on California’s 2020 primary ballot, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday.
The ruling invalidated a new state law passed earlier this year requiring presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release five years of tax returns to qualify for the California primary ballot.
The seven-judge panel said under California’s constitution, the state must hold an “open presidential primary” where all candidates on the ballot are viewed as “recognized candidates’ throughout the state or nation.
“It is the voters who must decide whether the refusal of a ‘recognized candidate throughout California for the office of the President of the United States’ to make such information available to the public will have consequences at the ballot box,” the panel concluded.
Jessica Patterson, chairwoman of the California Republican Party, had sued California Secretary of State Alex Padilla over the law.
Attorneys for the Republicans said the law, which was signed in July by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would discourage potential candidates from running for office. That would run counter to the California constitutional mandate for an “open” primary.
The state had argued the law merely added a routine administrative step to qualifying for the primary. They also argued voters had a right to know whether a candidate was involved in any financial shenanigans.
The ruling comes mere days before the Nov. 26 deadline for candidates to submit their tax returns to Mr. Padilla in order to qualify for next spring’s primary.
The California Supreme Court ruling is unappealable and handed Mr. Trump a rare victory in the legal battle over his tax returns.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court ruled House Democrats can demand eight years of tax returns from Mr. Trump.
Separately, a different appeals court rejected an effort by the president to stop Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus A. Vance from subpoenaing Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Marzas USA.