You can count on members of Congress to carry a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution in their jacket or their purse, but you can’t make them read it — or, heaven forbid, understand it.
The latest of a steady stream of examples of constitutional ignorance to come out of the hallowed halls of Congress is the proposal by House Democrats to require presidents and presidential candidates to release their tax returns for public consumption. There are several versions of this in the pipeline, but most likely it would require presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax data.
Of course, we all know this is Democrats’ latest effort to find leverage to use against President Trump, who has refused to release his tax returns. But it doesn’t matter who is president. Congress can not require any presidential candidate to turn over their tax returns for the simple reason that it would establish an unconstitutional qualification for holding the office.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Constitution, and the only way to change it is to pass a constitutional amendment, not through some partisan hack job piece of legislation.
The fact of the matter is the Constitution establishes the qualifications for being eligible to be president, and tax returns aren’t mentioned. To be precise, there are only three constitutional hurdles that presidential candidates have to clear, as spelled out in Article II, Section 5:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
In other words, if you are a natural-born citizen, 35 years old, and have resided in the United States for the preceding 14 years, you can be president. End of story. Everything else is just political gamesmanship, not constitutional governance. Too bad most members of Congress (and too many judges) can’t tell the difference.
Frank Miele writes from Kalispell, Montana, at www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com and is a columnist at Real Clear Politics. To see more of my columns about the Dishonest Media, the Deep Swamp, the failed presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Trump’s war to restore American greatness, read my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy. The books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Also please considering leaving a review in support of my conservative commentary on one or all of my book pages at Amazon! Thanks!