Supreme Court Rebuffs Texas Challenge to California LGBTQ Policy

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The U.S. Supreme Court left intact California’s ban on government-funded travel to states it sees as having anti-LGBTQ policies, rejecting Texas’s bid to challenge the policy.

Texas, one of 12 states on California’s restricted list, sought to file a lawsuit against California directly at the nation’s highest court.

The court as a whole made no comment, but Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas said they would have let Texas press its challenge. The two reiterated their view that the court has no discretion to turn away a state that is attempting to sue another.

Writing for the two, Alito said Texas was raising a number of “novel constitutional claims” in its lawsuit. “I express no view regarding any of those claims, but I respectfully dissent from the Court’s refusal even to permit the filing of Texas’s complaint,” Alito wrote.

California’s 2016 law applies to states with newly enacted measures that strip gay or transgender people of rights, or authorize discrimination against them.

The law has forced California state employees as well as students and scholars at public universities to scrap plans to attend conferences in the affected states. It doesn’t affect trips that use private funds.

California put Texas on the prohibited list after Texas passed a 2017 law that lets foster-care and adoption organizations refuse to work with same-sex couples on religious grounds.

Hotels and Restaurants

Texas told the Supreme Court that California is violating multiple constitutional provisions, including the commerce and equal protection clauses. Texas said the travel policy damages its hotels and restaurants, and ultimately leads to decreased tax revenue.

In addition to Texas, the law applies to Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, South Carolina, Idaho and Iowa.

“California’s travel ban is an affront to the sovereignty of Texas -- as well as the 10 other states that California has blacklisted,” Texas argued in court papers, filed before Idaho was added to the list.

California said that if anyone had the right to challenge the rules, it would be the affected businesses. The state said Texas had no right to challenge how California was spending its tax dollars.

“The greater threat to state sovereignty is presented by the attempt to constrain California’s autonomy over decisions regarding how to spend its own funds,” California told the justices.

States can go directly to the Supreme Court when they are suing one another, though they must get permission to do so. The court last year refused to let Texas sue four other states over their presidential election results.

Then-President Donald Trump’s administration filed a brief in December urging the Supreme Court to let Texas file the suit against California.

The case is Texas v. California, No. 153 Orig.

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