The US Supreme Court on Monday denied a complaint from the state Texas of alleging that the state of California “unconstitutionally discriminated against Texans,” following a ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel to Texas (and other states).
The law prohibits California state agencies, departments, boards and commissions from requiring state employees from traveling to any state that, after June 26, 2015, had enacted a law that (1) voided/repleaded existing gender- and sexuality-based protections; (2) authorized discrimination against same-sex couples; or (3) created anti-discrimination exceptions.
Texas was one of 11 states subject to AB 1887’s travel prohibition. Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi, Tennessee and the Carolinas were among other states.
California added Texas to the list of travel-banned states following the passage of the Texas “Freedom to Serve Children Act,” which allows state-funded adoption agencies to reject families on religious grounds. Governor Greg Abbott approved the law in 2017.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit in February 2020, alleging that California imposed “economic sanctions” on Texas and other states that “respect religious freedom.” The complaint also argued that Califonia was “attempt[ing] to influence public policy in our state.”
The issue was whether California’s sanctions are “born of religious animus and violation the Constitution’s privileges and immunities clause, interstate commerce clause, and guarantee of equal protection.”
West Virginia, Kansas, Tennessee, and 16 other states filed a brief of amicus curiae, saying California’s travel ban “strikes at the heart of federalism.” They further argued that Texas is entitled to relief because California’s law “infringes on the dormant Commerce Clause and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”
Justice Clarance Thomas joined in Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent from Monday’s decision not to hear the case. Alito argued that at a very minimum, the court “should note probable jurisdiction and receive briefing and argument on the question.”