California governor vetoes bill aimed at getting Trump's tax returns in 2020

Jerry Brown vetoed a bill on presidential tax returns
(Image credit: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

Late Sunday night, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a bill that would have aimed to require presidential candidates to release their last five tax returns in order to appear on the state ballot, disappointing Democrats and open-government advocates. The legislation, passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature, was prompted by President Trump's decision not to release any of his tax returns, bucking decades of precedent. Brown — who also did not release his own tax returns during the 2010 and 2014 campaigns, Politico notes — cited legal questions and the "slippery slope."

"While I recognize the political attractiveness — even the merits — of getting President Trump's tax returns, I worry about the political perils of individual states seeking to regulate presidential elections in this manner," he wrote in a veto message. "First, it may not be constitutional. Second, it sets a 'slippery slope' precedent. Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?" Legal analysts were divided on whether the bill would pass constitutional muster.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.