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GOP, Trump Sue California Over 'Unprecedented' Election Law

Newsom signed rule requiring tax return release to appear on primary ballot
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 6, 2019 4:44 PM CDT
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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed California's new primary election requirement last week.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

(Newser) – The Trump campaign and Republican Party sued California on Tuesday over a new (and "unprecedented") law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns to run in the state's primary, legislation that was aimed at prying loose President Trump's returns. California's law is "a naked political attack against the sitting President of the United States," the state and national Republican parties argued in one of two lawsuits filed in US District Court in Sacramento, the AP reports. The law signed last week by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom requires candidates for president and governor to release five years of tax returns to appear on the state's primary ballot, but the requirement does not extend to the general election. Newsom said in his signing statement that California is within its rights to add the requirement, per the Sacramento Bee. Trump has refused to release his returns, saying they are under audit.

The lawsuits argue the law violates the US Constitution by adding a requirement to run for president and deprives citizens the right to vote for their chosen candidates. The Constitution puts just three requirements on presidential candidates: that they are natural-born citizens, 35 or older, and a US resident for at least 14 years. California is the first state to pass such a law, though others have tried since Trump took office. Without a serious Republican competitor, Trump would likely be able to forego California's March 3 primary and still win the nomination. But the parties' lawsuit argues it will "directly impede" his ability to secure the nomination, as California provides 14% of the delegates needed to do so. Trump counsel Jay Sekulow called the law "flagrantly illegal" and said voters already spoke in 2016 on whether Trump should release his tax returns.

(Read more Trump tax return stories.)

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