A federal judge on Thursday, Sept. 19, temporarily blocked a California state law that requires presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns to appear on the primary ballot.

U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr., who was nominated by George W. Bush on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, said he had to issue a temporary order to block the law, otherwise there would be “irreparable harm without temporary relief” for Trump and other candidates, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The law, SB 27, or the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, which was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in July, requires a candidate for president or governor to submit five years of income tax returns filed with the IRS in order to appear on the state’s primary ballot, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Trump filed the lawsuit in August to block the law, and four other lawsuits were filed by others, including former presidential candidate Roque de la Fuente.

Judge Morrison England Jr. appeared swayed by arguments that the U.S. Constitution, not states, sets the qualifications to run for president and that a federal law requiring candidates to release financial information supersedes the state’s power to seek additional details.

“I don’t care how you skin the cat, it’s an unconstitutional law,” said Harmeet Dhillon, who represented the state and national Republican parties.

Republican lawyers also eagerly pointed to California’s former Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who vetoed a similar law in 2017. Brown argued it would create a slippery slope that could lead states to impose requirements like medical records or college transcripts, The Associated Press reported.

“Although tax returns are by law confidential, many presidential candidates have voluntarily released them. This bill is a response to President Trump’s refusal to release his returns during the last election. While I recognize the political attractiveness—even the merits—of getting President Trump’s tax returns, I worry about the political perils of individual states seeking to regulate presidential elections in this manner. First, it may not be constitutional. Second, it sets a “slippery slope” precedent. Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power? A qualified candidate’s ability to appear on the ballot is fundamental to our democratic system. For that reason, I hesitate to start down a road that well might lead to an ever escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement in 2017. 

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow welcomed the judge’s decision.

“We are encouraged that the federal court has tentatively concluded that a preliminary injunction should be granted. We look forward to the court’s written order,” he said in a statement. “It remains our position that the law is unconstitutional because states are not permitted to add additional requirements for candidates for president, and that the law violated citizens’ 1st Amendment right of association.”

Since taking office, Trump has filed multiple lawsuits to prevent his tax returns from being disclosed. Earlier on Thursday, the president filed a lawsuit against the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office from getting his tax returns and other financial records.

Includes reporting from The Associated Press 

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