Does the California Constitution Forbid the State From Barring Presidential Primary Candidates Who Don’t Reveal Income Taxes?

The California legislature is currently considering SB 27, which says that candidates may not appear on a presidential primary ballot if they have not released their income tax returns for the last five years. The California Constitution, Article II, sec. 5(c), says, “The candidates on the ballot are those found by the Secretary of State to be recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California.”

When the Senate Elections Committee passed SB 27 on March 19, no one at the hearing mentioned the California Constitution. Instead all of the testimony on both sides concerned the U.S. Constitution. The analysis of the bill did not mention the California Constitutional provision.

Please weigh in and express an opinion about the relationship between SB 27 and the California Constitution.

Don Blankenship Will Speak at Constitution Party National Committee Meeting on May 4

Don Blankenship will speak at the national committee meeting of the Constitution Party, set for May 4 in Milwaukee. Blankenship was formerly CEO of Massey Energy, and he was the Constitution Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in West Virginia in 2018.

He was sentenced to prison for one year in April 2016, for breaking federal mine safety rules, although that was a misdemeanor conviction, not a felony conviction. He is currently suing several news agencies for falsely reporting that he had been convicted of a felony. He also continues to challenge the correctness of his conviction.

Often, when prominent people speak at minor party national meetings, that is a sign they are thinking of seeking the presidential nomination of such parties.

The Nation Carries Another Article in Defense of Fusion

The April 8, 2019 issue of The Nation has an article by Maurice Mitchell and Dan Cantor, in support of fusion (letting two parties jointly nominate the same candidate). This is the second article in defense of fusion that The Nation has carried this year.

The article is behind a pay wall, so unless you are a Nation subscriber, it probably can’t be read. The article has a calm tone, reflecting the reality that fusion is almost surely safe in New York state for now. The article is also interesting because it shows that the title of Mitchell is “National Director” of the Working Families Party, and that Dan Cantor is “Chair of the Working Families National Committee.” It is apparently a recent transition for the Working Families Party, that it has a national structure, instead of being a loose group of associated state parties.

Maryland Libertarian Party Files Brief in Ballot Access Case

On March 11, the Maryland Libertarian Party filed this 24-page brief in Johnston v Lamone, 1:18cv-3988. This is the case on whether the Maryland law on how a party remains on the ballot, as applied to parties with more than 10,000 registered members, is constitutional. State law says the Libertarian Party must submit a petition of 10,000 signatures to get back on the ballot, even though the party has over 22,000 registered members. The party argues that the petition is meaningless, because the purpose of the petition is to show that at least 10,000 voters want the party on the ballot, and it is obvious that a party with 22,000 registered members already has shown that. The state argues that a Libertarian registrant might have registered Libertarian long ago and no longer cares about the party. This Libertarian brief says that argument is not persuasive.

The Baltimore Sun of March 21 gives a prominent display headline, and two photographs, to this letter to the editor from David Griggs. The letter argues that the existing law is irratioal.

New Hampshire State Senate Defeats Presidential Tax Returns Bill

On March 21, the New Hampshire State Senate defeated SB 102. It would have requires presidential candidates to reveal their tax returns for the last three years. The bill applied to presidential primary candidates, and also candidates in the general election. It also would have forbidden presidential electors from voting for anyone who had not revealed tax returns. Here is the text of the bill. Thanks to Alvin See for this news.

U.S. District Court Strikes Down FEC Rule Restricting Use of Candidate Names by Unauthorized Groups

On March 21, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan struck down a federal regulation that prevents political committees from including a candidate’s name in the title of its websites or social media pages, unless that political committee is an authorized committee of that candidate. Pursuing America’s Greatness v Federal Election Commission, 1:15cv-1217. Here is the 17-page opinion.

The decision is not surprising, because in 2016 the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, had enjoined the FEC regulation. Judge Chutkan in 2015 had denied injunctive relief, but the D.C. Circuit had reversed her on the matter of injunctive relief. The case then went back to Judge Chutkan for a decision on constitutionality. This time she concluded the regulation violates the free speech provision of the First Amendment.

The U.S. Court of Appeals decision was signed by Judge Brett Cavanaugh, who is now on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case had been filed in 2015 by a committee that backed Mike Huckabee for the Republican presidential nomination, called “Pursuing America’s Greatness.” The committee wanted to have a facebook page labelled “I like Mike Huckabee.” But the regulation did not permit it to do that.

It is still illegal for an unauthorized committee to use the name of a candidate in its formal title. Thanks to the Institute for Free Speech for the link.