The Washington times has a report on the progress being made by several blue states to bar President Donald Trump from the ballot for 2020 unless and until he reveals his tax returns.
Democrats have redoubled their efforts to force President Trump to release his federal tax returns by threatening to keep him off the 2020 ballot in deep-blue states, to which he might say: So what?
“Seventeen states have seen bills introduced this year that would require presidential candidates to turn over their tax returns as a condition for ballot access, and such measures have cleared one legislative chamber in at least four states.
“For the Trump campaign, however, there may be worse fates than being left off the ballot in liberal enclaves like California, Hawaii and Illinois, where the mandatory tax-return bills are making headway, given that no Republican presidential contender is likely to prevail there.”
The reason for this effort is two-fold.
First, if Trump decides to knuckle under and release his tax returns, liberals hope to find things that are at least embarrassing or unseemly.
It is unlikely that anyone will find evidence of illegal acts in the returns.
The IRS is very adept at finding evidence of illegality in tax forms and would have acted long ago if it had in the case of President Trump.
Second, the states will be able to deny their voters even the choice of voting for President Trump unless they perform the often difficult to comprehend write in procedure.
Their ballots will be unsullied even by the name of the president.
The problem with the effort is that it is constitutionally suspect.
States cannot add requirements to run for president that are not in the United States Constitution any more than they can repeal the Bill of Rights.
On the other hand, states can and do add several requirements to be on the ballot, such as paying a filing fee and gathering enough signatures from voters.
However, these measures are meant to weed out all but the most serious of presidential candidate, least ballots become top heavy with hundreds or even thousands of names.
So far none of these bills have passed both houses of the legislature and been signed into law.
However, as surely as night follows day, the first one that does is going to get both a court challenge and a political attack from Trump and his allies.
Besides the fact that the various bills violate the constitutional requirements for running for president, they are aimed at President Trump and no other person.
Thus, the proposed restrictions could be argued to be bills of attainder, also unconstitutional.
The liberal state governments run the very real risk of seeing this effort blow up in their faces.
Trump would begin with the mother of all tweet storms, claiming that corrupt and partisan liberals in the blue states are using subterfuge to keep him off the ballot.
Every speech at one of his monster MAGA rallies will have a few lines about how his enemies are trying to cheat him out of being reelected.
Never mind that Trump likely won’t carry any of the states that are trying this gambit. The complaints will have the effect of padding his total in the states that he can carry.
Also, Trump’s media allies, mostly at Fox News and on talk radio, can be counted on the carry on the theme of a president being cheated by unscrupulous swamp dwellers.
People like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity will spend many hours pontificating on the theme while the commentary at other networks will try to justify the measures, the defense can be easily mocked.
Why not just release the tax returns?
Trump doesn’t want to and legally doesn’t have to.
If anything is in them that the media can make something of.
On the other hand, Trump could respond that he is the first businessman of his stature to be elected president and therefore has complicated tax returns that go to the edge but not pass the boundaries of legality.
In any case, the court battle can be made to last beyond the election cycle, starting with an injunction to keep Trump on the ballots in the states that pass the measures pending the resolution of the litigation.
So, in the end, all that clever effort on the part of the blue states will be for naught.