By Matt Rooney
There’s never been anything democratic about the Trenton Democrats, Save Jerseyans. Their latest maneuver — advancing legislation targeted at Donald Trump, banning presidential candidates from the N.J. ballot if they fail to disclose five years of tax returns — is revealing. They’re not confident enough in their failed, tax-happy, far-left, prosperity-crushing “ideas” to engage a fair fight, so they try to rig our ballot AFTER, you may recall, attempting to further rig the legislative map.
Yes, it’s also hypocritical. An amendment offered by Republican state Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) to subject state candidates (those running for governor and the legislature) was unceremoniously tabled by the majority party.
But the most important point? For those of us who still give a damn about the rule of law?
This bill is wildly unconstitutional.
Back in 2017, the last time Democrats explored this idea, our friend Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) requested an opinion of the non-party Office of Legislative Services (OLS) on the constitutionality of ballot access restrictions on candidates running for federal offices.
You can read it here. OLS can’t tell the legislature what to do, or pass judgment on whether a particular bill is “bad” or not, but here’s the conclusion from what legislative counsel wrote to Schepisi about the ballot restrictions issue generally in its 7-page March 30 2017 letter:
…it is the opinion of Legislative Counsel that the Qualification Clauses in Articles I and II of the United States Constitution and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution constrain the Legislature’s power to restrict candidates for federal elective office from appearing on the ballot. Although the Legislature may regulate the “Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections,” the Legislature cannot add qualifications for federal office beyond those set forth in the Constitution. Moreover, the Legislature must apply any ballot access restriction it implements in an evenhanded manner to avoid violating the voters’ freedom of choice and association guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
The qualifications clauses in Article I (Congress) and Article II (Executive), respectively, say NOTHING about financial disclosures.
New Jersey Democrats are attempting to REWRITE the U.S. Constitution (or at least how it applies to New Jersey), something that’s clearly impermissible. Supremacy Clause 101, folks.
We’re going to break down the case law in some upcoming posts. Stay tuned and keep pushing back. We’re not going to let them get away with this one.