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California’s New Ballot Eligibility Rule is Unconstitutional, Says Lawyer

SAN FRANCISCO—Does one state have the authority to decide who’s eligible to run for president? In California, one governor is attempting to pass Senate Bill 27 which will control who is allowed on the presidential ballot. While, a California lawyer steps forward and declares this act unconstitutional.

Harmeet Dhillon, an attorney in San Francisco, explains the exclusive requirements to run for president.

“There are three requirements: you have to be 35 years old, a natural-born United States citizen, and have lived in the U.S. for 14 years. [The] president meets all those criteria, the president has also met all ethics disclosure requirements required by the federal government,” said Dhillon.

Harmeet Dhillon says California’s new ballot eligibility rule is unconstitutional, in San Francisco on Aug. 14, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

McCarthy says Californians are disenfranchised when the state strikes a candidate from the ballot, at the Liberty Forum in Silicon Valley on Aug. 13, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom passed a bill on July 30th requiring a candidate running for president or governor must release tax information to be eligible to go on the state’s primary ballot.

Most people see it as a bill aiming to render President Trump ineligible for reelection.

The president filed a lawsuit (pdf) against the Secretary of State and Attorney General of California on August 8th.

Judicial Watch also filed a lawsuit on behalf of four California voters on August 5th. They include registered Independent, Republican, and Democrat voters.

Agnes Gibboney says if California enacts SB 27 into law, she would move to another state to vote for her president, on Aug. 7, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

Dhillon’s law group and national law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP filed a lawsuit on August 6th. On August 10th, they filed a preliminary injunction, a motion to prevent the court from enforcing this new law.

“It is time-sensitive, because under the current law, the candidates have to provide five years of their tax returns to the Secretary of State by the end of November, which will be posted on the Secretary of State’s website prior to the March election. So we’re seeking to have that law declared unconstitutional, and if we succeed, then the law would not go into effect,” said Dhillon.

Andrew McCarthy, a former prosecutor of Southern District of New York, said a state doesn’t have that kind of power.

“I don’t think states have the authority to add new conditions to the presidency. And if you strike the president from the ballot or a presidential candidate from the ballot because they don’t fulfill your conditions, what you are basically doing is disenfranchising Californians. So I think it’s blatantly unconstitutional,” said McCarthy.

What would Californians do if the law does go into effect? Dhillon says it would discourage people from voting.

“If Republican voters cannot turn out and vote for their preferred candidate for president, many of them will stay home, and they will not be encouraged and motivated to go out and vote,” said Dhillon. “This is going to have a negative impact of democracy over all. Even if the tables were turned and it was Republicans trying to suppress the democratic vote, I would argue that’s also unconstitutional.”

Agnes Gibboney, from Los Angeles, said she would relocate.

“I’ll go to Arizona or another state, open a PO box address, and make my home in that state for that matter, but I will vote for President Trump,” said Gibboney.

Dhillon says cheating either party in favor of their own is not American. So they are standing up for the rights of all citizens to vote for any properly qualified candidate.

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