In a little-noticed but significant decision in April, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case involving California’s ban on state-funded travel to Texas and 11 other red states. Sacramento’s culture warriors heard the message and this week extended their blacklist.
Soon, the California Attorney General announced, public funds also can’t be used for travel to Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia. California’s expanding regime of political sanctions will surely be reciprocated.
California justified its travel ban against Texas because the state’s religious-freedom legislation allows religious foster-care providers to decline to place children with same-sex couples. In Fulton v. Philadelphia, decided last month, the Justices ruled 9-0 against government efforts to coerce a Catholic foster care agency with a similar policy.
No matter the constitutionality of diverse state policies, California’s Legislature wants to impose economic costs on the residents of states that disagree with it. More than 35% of Americans outside California now live in one of the boycotted states. Four of the five states added this week were targeted because of policies on transgender athletes in school sports.
The state-funded travel ban has disrupted academic exchange between universities and travel by legislators, though naturally it contains an exemption for California to conduct “revenue collection.” As more states are targeted and impose their own restrictions on California (as Oklahoma already has), the economic and political harm will compound. Yet the Supreme Court, against the protests of Justices Samuel Alito and
has been reluctant in recent decades to resolve disputes between states under its original jurisdiction.
Economic warfare between states is an ominous trend in a polarized republic, and if the Court won’t stop it then perhaps Congress can. Would Democratic Senators from Montana and West Virginia endorse boycotts on their own constituents? Representatives interested in calming the culture wars should look at ways to use their Commerce Clause or spending powers to prohibit or deter interstate government boycotts.
Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Appeared in the July 2, 2021, print edition.