On Monday, the Maryland state Senate passed a bill requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the state’s ballot.
The Senate passed the bill 28-17.
The Baltimore Sun reported that all but four Democrats supported the measure. The legislation also applies to vice presidential candidates.
Republicans and several Democrats criticized the bill for targeting President Donald Trump. Trump did not release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential race.
Trump claimed he couldn’t release the returns because of an ongoing audit. The IRS, however, said that nothing was preventing Trump from sharing the documents.
Minority Whip Stephen Hershey (R) said, “This is the most childish bill that I’ve ever seen and I’m embarrassed that it’s on the floor.”
Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Democrat, said an assistant attorney general found that the bill was “not clearly unconstitutional.”
The bill will now go to Maryland’s Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) did not say if he would sign the bill into law.
Maryland would be the first state to pass such a law. Both New Jersey and California have attempted to pass similar measures, but both bills were vetoed.
There is debate over whether such a law is constitutional or not. Law professor Richard Hasen wrote in Politico that in 1995, a Supreme Court decision found that states adding new qualifications for federal candidates “would erode the structure designed by the Framers to form a ‘more perfect Union.'”
Article II of the Constitution, however, says that states can “direct” “the manner” for choosing presidential electors.
The Supreme Court gave state legislatures broad powers in presidential elections in its ruling for Bush v. Gore.
Hassen argued that this opened the door for states to set limits on the candidates offered on the ballot.
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Credit: The Hill