Prof. Turley’s Mutual Defense Proposal To Battle Ideological State Government Boycotts

Ethics Alarms wrote about the efforts by some “blue” states, notably California, to unethically bully other states into bending to their partisan will in opposition to their own voters in this post from last month, condemning the practice. That essay involved California’s “black list” preventing state travel to others states that in California’s consistently warped assessment, “discriminates” against LGBTQ Americans—you know, like by not allowing biological men to instantly become female collegiate swimmers just by saying they are.

This is not the first coercive effort of its kind, nor will it be the last. Major League Baseball was convinced to move its All-Star Game in 2021 from Atlanta because a reasonable Georgia voting integrity law was falsely labeled as “voter suppression.” California was at it again last week, as Gov. Newsome called upon Hollywood production companies to stop filming in states such as Georgia or Oklahoma with strict anti-abortion laws. In other states, legislation is developing  to block any state contracts with businesses in states with anti-LGBTQ legislation or pro-gun ownership laws, or that significantly limit abortion.

The July EA post concluded,

California’s attack on pluralism, democracy and federalism as well as its unethical efforts to try to influence governing decisions of other states is far, far worse that any imagined “discrimination” the Golden State claims to be reacting to. California has no respect for other states; it refuses to acknowledge that everyone doesn’t agree with California’s frequently warped vales and priorities and that there is nothing wrong with that; and it is deliberately acting as an agent of discord and division in the nation at a time when such conduct by a state, an official, or even a celebrity is particularly irresponsible.

California’s boycott list expresses exactly the same un-American spirit as bars, restaurants and other establishments that refuse service based on political views (Ethics Alarms has discussed that revolting trend many times)….

How can California’s toxic conduct be stopped? …This may be one of those rare exceptions where “tit for tat” becomes ethical as a last resort. The other states should consider taking retaliatory measures against California, and execute their own boycotts.

Now Jonathan Turley, the rapidly red-pilling Constitutional Law scholar from George Washington Law School in D.C., has proposed a formula to do exactly that. He writes in part,

The point of these campaigns is to pressure state officials to ignore the will of a majority of their citizens and pass laws to appeal to corporations and other states in a competitive market….For Democratic leaders like California Attorney General Rob Bonta, official boycotts on travel are simply a case of states acting like consumers and “aligning our dollars with our values.” However, it is more than that. It is speaking as a state to isolate and punish states with opposing views on abortion, transgender rights, gun rights and other policies. In a system based on federalism principles, we embraced the model of allowing each state to reach its own conclusions on divisive questions. The result can be consensus around moderate positions that escape both parties, which often are driven by the extremes on issues like abortion….

There is a way to end this madness. It is an Article 5-like alliance. [Earlier, Turley explains, “An attack on one is an attack on all.” That reference to Article 5 of the NATO treaty is a virtual mantra in Washington these days as “the bedrock of peace and security in Europe for over half a century.” But the benefits of such deterrence should not be lost on another group under increasing threat for their political alliances: America’s red states…]

While this would ideally be an agreement by all states, red states should pass legislation barring state business or travel with any state that engages in boycotts. The key would be that the agreement must stand on principle, allow no exceptions, and trigger immediate reciprocity: A travel ban on, say, Nebraska would result in a reciprocal ban not just from Nebraska but from every state in the alliance.

In this way, when a state like California targets a state like Utah, it will shoot itself with roughly half of the country. Eventually the administrative and competitive costs of such measures would become prohibitive.

California’s enormous economy has given leaders like Gov. Newsom a sense of impunity in targeting other states. There are now 17 states on California’s banned list under a 2016 law that automatically adds states which discriminate against or remove protections for people on the basis of sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. Imagine if those 17 states had automatic reciprocity laws — add any one of us to a boycott list, and you will be boycotted back by all.

…Evan Low, a California lawmaker who authored that state’s ban, put it simply: “The current culture war is not a game.” Indeed — which is why we should look to “the most successful military alliance in history” to end reckless incursions by neighboring states.

I concur.

9 thoughts on “Prof. Turley’s Mutual Defense Proposal To Battle Ideological State Government Boycotts

  1. Brilliant. Make it like Luther’s 95 Theses and put it in full-page ads in major newspapers.

    I can see it now –

    Whereas, the State of California has decided that the personal preferences of its own voters should determine how legislation is decided in other states.

    Whereas, the State of California eschews the spirit of unity and respect for the federal system under which our system of government was founded and operates.

    Whereas, the State of California has determined to punish dissenting states and those states’ sovereign voters economically for enacting legislation not reflecting the personal preferences of California’s voters.

    Whereas, the State of California’s extortionate practices are often based on false or misleading representations of the legislation in question.

    We the undersigned pledge that an Attack on One is an Attack on All. If any one of our number is targeted for economic punishment due to legislation preferred by the sovereign voters of the same, the remaining number will respond in kind to the State of California.

  2. Agree with the “Attack on one…” approach. As a Virginian, I hotly protest California’s ability or right to impose its will on me in any way.

  3. An idea who’s time has come.

    Parting thought — would this suggestion, if adopted, not be the opening salvo in the dissolution of the Republic? I know it isn’t automatically, but if such a pact were formed and successfully implemented, it could legitimately be seen as a model for governance. It would also bind a group of states into an effective subdivision of the country.

    Addendum: Will not the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact do the same thing for blue states if it ever reaches critical mass (and withstands the inevitable court challenge)?

    • The Blue State Compact is a farce that would collapse as soon as a Republican gets the popular vote. It is “interstate compact” in name only, without the congressional ratification needed to enforce it.

    • They should start with the border compact states. They already have an agreement to send national guard to help with border security.

  4. But aren’t the state “boycotts” largely a performative measure?

    All California can do is not subsidize public employees travel on state business to other states. I’d imagine, if someone were to total up all of any individual state’s revenue derived from California entities visiting the targeted state – such as professional conventions, sports teams, industry conferences, etc – that public employees going to meetings about state business on the state dime is probably like 1 percent of the targeted state’s revenue from that source. Since private entities cannot be banned from using their own funds to go do whatever they want in the targeted state.

    And that 1-5% of revenue pales even more in comparison to the kinds of revenue the targeted state already receives from all other sources.

    Now if California’s public spending in a targeted state actually does amount to much much more than I’ve guessed, maybe it is impactful.

    But I’d always felt that the state “boycotts” were largely grandstanding efforts that don’t really hurt but sound big, bold and decisive like when a nation cuts off funding to another nation (which *can* affect private entities).

    • It probably is grandstanding, but it sets a terrible precedent to say nothing of the disrespect it shows for the voters of the targeted states. If California’s ruling elite really believed that voters should have the right to decide for themselves, they would allow for contrary laws in other states to exist. The fact that they would try to punish the other states financially, even if it is a drop in the bucket, shows how little they believe in democracy.

      I have no problem believing that California may some day penalize companies headquartered there that do business in offending states by removing tax breaks or assessing fines.

      • I definitely think on the principles you just stated that the tit-for-tat of the proposal is perfectly fair. I just think California knows they won’t really sour anyone’s finances and so it’s a low risk grandstand.

        And yes- leftist elites will find every angle to punish anyone they can as you say.

  5. @ Michael West– The “performance” aspect is probably right. But besides the idea that the host state would not get the benefit of a few nights’ hotel rent and the related meals, the knowledge/fear that the conference sponsors (not the host state, necessarily) might have that a CA boycott would keep others from attending, thus reduce their gross, and their image, and possibly their ability to attract commercial sponsors. They might see that these potential hazards can be avoided by holding the conference in a location that would not trigger a CA boycott. In such an event the host state and its businesses would lose every state’s financial participation. CA would be the tail wagging the dog.

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