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Open Government
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A new law that requires candidates in California to provide their tax returns before being allowed on the ballot appears likely to be rejected by the state Supreme Court.

Trump likely to win tax returns fight in California, but battles continue elsewhere

The legal battle to pry loose President Trump's tax returns appears to be headed to defeat in the California Supreme Court, while numerous other efforts continue to move forward.

According to reporting by the Sacramento Bee, a majority of the justices on Wednesday appeared to side with Republicans challenging the new state law that would force Trump to release the last five years of his tax returns in order to get on the 2020 primary ballot.

During oral arguments, several of the justices aggressively questioned an attorney representing Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

"Where does it end? Do we get all high school report cards?" asked Justice Ming Chin, according to the Bee.

If the court strikes down the law (it has 90 days to reach a decision), the state could still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Balance of Power
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President Trump is fighting multiple battles to prevent access to his tax returns

More twists in multilevel fight by the House to get Trump's tax returns

The House of Representatives is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by President Trump seeking to prevent the House's majority Democrats from getting their hands on the president's New York tax returns.

The request by the House late Monday is the latest volley in what's arguably, besides impeachment, the most consequential current balance-of-powers fight between the legislative and executive branches.

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Balance of Power
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Two states asking Supreme Court for permission to regulate Electoral College conduct

Colorado has become the second state to ask the Supreme Court to decide if states may legally bind their presidential electors to vote for the candidate who carried their state.

The issue of so-called faithless electors is the latest aspect of an increasingly heated debate about the virtues and flaws of the Electoral College that has blossomed, especially among progressive democracy reform advocates, now that two of the past five presidential winners (Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000) got to the Oval Office despite losing the national popular vote.

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Big Picture
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Former Vice President Joe Biden released a campaign finance and ethics reform proposal Monday, ahead of the fourth Democratic presidential debate.

Biden backs some, but hardly all, of democracy reform agenda in time for debate

Just in time for the first presidential debate of the fall, Joe Biden has laid out a plan for improving government ethics and campaign finance regulation that adds more substance to a democracy reform agenda he hasn't been very vocal about.

But the former vice president's package still does not come close to the expansiveness or specificity of the "good government" proposals of Elizabeth Warren, who currently stands near Biden as the front-runners for the Democratic nomination, or the other top-tier presidential candidates.

Whether these issues get any air time when a dozen of the candidates meet Tuesday night is an open question, however. To the dismay of democracy reform advocates, and in defiance of polling that shows fixing the system's brokenness is among the voters' top desires, the issue received only minimal attention in the three debates so far.

One reason may be that the debate moderators have chosen to emphasize the differences among the candidates on the most prominent issues likely to define President Trump's 2020 re-election campaign, and the dozen Democrats on stage in Ohio stand in broad agreement on most of the top proposals for improving democracy.

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