Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, forever at war with affordable healthcare, women's personal autonomy and reality, added a new foe to his list Monday afternoon: California.
Three years after the fact, Paxton is making his objection to the Golden State's ban on state-paid travel to Texas his office's newest cause célèbre, challenging it in a new suit filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.
“California is attempting to punish Texans for respecting the right of conscience for foster care and adoption providers," Paxton said. "And as the U.S. Supreme Court said recently in upholding the religious liberty of artist Jack Phillips, disparaging religious beliefs like the California Legislature did here, ‘as merely rhetorical — something insubstantial and even insincere,’ is inappropriate for any entity charged with enacting fair and neutral laws.”
California banned state-funded travel to eight states, including Texas, in 2017. That year, the Texas Legislature passed a bill allowing child-welfare providers to deny adoptions based on their religious beliefs.
“While the California DOJ works to protect the rights of all our people, discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back. That's why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in announcing the ban.
According to Paxton, Becerra's decision was a political one, not one intended to protect children.
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“The law California opposes does not prevent anyone from contributing to child welfare; in fact, it allows our state to partner with as many different agencies as possible to expand the number of safe and loving homes available to foster children," Paxton said. "Boycotting states based on nothing more than political disagreement breaks down the ability of states to serve as laboratories of democracy while still working together as one nation — the very thing our Constitution intended to prevent."
Becerra's office said Monday that it was reviewing the complaint.
“In California, we have chosen not to use taxpayer money to support laws discriminating against the LGBTQ community,” Becerra said.
With the travel-ban challenge on the books, Paxton and Becerra are now tangling in two high-profile cases. After the Trump administration refused to defend the Affordable Care Act from the Texas official's ongoing challenge, California and a group of Democratic states stepped in to fight on Obamacare's behalf. That case is still tied up in lower federal courts but could be headed to the Supreme Court later this year.