The Maryland state senate just fired a broadside at President Trump in terms of his hopes for reelection… or so they think. Like many other blue states, the Old Line State’s upper chamber just approved a new bill which would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to submit five years worth of tax returns in order to make it onto the ballot. Yes, it’s a grand day for democracy, isn’t it? But the measure in question didn’t even draw the support of all the Democrats in the chamber. (Baltimore Sun)
The Maryland Senate on Monday night passed a bill to require president and vice presidential candidates to release their tax returns if they wish to appear on the state’s ballots.
The move, a direct assault on President Donald Trump, drew harsh criticism from Republicans and some Democrats.
“Show me in the Constitution where it says that’s a qualification for being president of the United States,” said Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat. “We can’t go along and make up rules when we don’t like the president of the United States.”
The chamber voted 28-17 to pass the measure, meaning it got the support of all but four Democrats — Brochin, Sen. James DeGrange, Sen. Katherine Klausmeier and Sen. James Mathias.
While the measure still passed, it’s unclear if they’ll be able to get it all the way through to the Governor’s desk or if it will temporarily become law. The Democratic members should have spent a bit more time listening to their colleague, James Brochin, who has the right idea and refused to vote for the measure.
Some Trump opponents have tried to claim that such an effort would be legal, including Lawrence Tribe. (But let’s be honest… Tribe would support anything that damaged Donald Trump even if it included proving that the moon was made of green cheese.) The consensus opinion, however, seems to be that the effort would be doomed to failure.
As has been repeatedly documented in the past, the states are not allowed to impose any sort of restrictions to ballot access which would go beyond the qualifications for the office set forth in the Constitution. The Supreme Court has already weighed in on that question when term limits were being discussed. Exceptions are made for minor requirements such as gathering a specific number of signatures to prevent the ballot from becoming flooded with candidates with zero viability and the requirement for filing fees, but that’s about it.
Even California Governor Jerry Brown, generally regarded as the de facto king of the #RESIST movement, vetoed a bill like this last year, saying that the courts would have just overturned it anyway. And when you’ve lost Jerry Brown…
Perhaps we should just hope that Maryland actually passes this bill. It would immediately be challenged and add to the body of casework which needs to go to the Supreme Court. It would presumably be dismissed there unless some sort of mass hysteria engulfs the court. And even if the Maryland bill made it through, keep one other thing in mind. Did anyone really believe Trump was going to carry Maryland anyway?