Litigation We’re Watching
Griffin, et al. v. Padilla (Eastern District of California opinion issued, appeal filed in the 9th Circuit): A recently-enacted California law requires presidential candidates to submit five years’ worth of federal income tax returns to the Secretary of State as a condition precedent to appearing on the state primary election ballot. Several individuals and groups filed suit in five related cases, claiming that such a law violates the Qualifications Clause of art. II of the U.S. Constitution because it has the purpose and effect of hindering the candidacies of individuals who choose not to submit such data, that it violates the First Amendment because it amounts to a functional bar against voters’ ability to cast an effective vote for candidates who wish to keep their tax returns private and because it interferes with individuals’ and political parties’ ability to select the candidate of their choice, that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it subjects independent candidates to different burdens than major-party candidates without any valid reason, and that it is pre-empted by the Ethics in Government Act because Congress intended that statute to replace any general financial disclosure requirement or conflict of interest requirement for federal officeholders. The district court agreed that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on all four claims and issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law’s enforcement. The appeal is expected to resolve the issue of if and how far a state can go to require disclosures of presidential candidates under the auspices of providing voters with information.
News From Ethics Agencies
The Disclose Act (Assembly Bill 249 of 2017, c. 546), repealed and recast numerous advertisement and mass mailing provisions within the Political Reform Act. Through the advice process, staff of the Fair Political Practices Commission have identified Disclose Act interpretation issues that may be addressed on the regulatory level. The Commission plans to consider the proposed regulation at its meeting on November 21, 2019.
AB 49 – California Voter Protection Act of 2019
Requires an elections official to send a vote by mail (VBM) ballot to a voter within five days of
receiving the request for a VBM ballot, or within five days of the 29th day before the election for
voters who requested a VBM ballot by the 29th day before the election.