Texas and California are the leaders of Red and Blue America. As the nation has polarized, its most populous and economically powerful states have taken charge of the opposing camps. These states now advance sharply contrasting political and policy agendas and view themselves as competitors for control of the nation's future. Kenneth P. Miller provides a detailed account of the rivalry's emergence, present state, and possible future. First, he explores why, despite their many similarities, the two states have become so deeply divided. As he shows, they experienced critical differences in their origins and in their later demographic, economic, cultural, and political development. Second, he describes how Texas and California have constructed opposing, comprehensive policy models--one conservative, the other progressive. Miller highlights the states' contrasting policies in five areas--tax, labor, energy and environment, poverty, and social issues--and also shows how Texas and California have led the red and blue state blocs in seeking to influence federal policy in these areas. The book concludes by assessing two models' strengths, vulnerabilities, and future prospects. The rivalry between the two states will likely continue for the foreseeable future, because California will surely stay blue and Texas will likely remain red. The challenge for the two states, and for the nation as a whole, is to view the competition in a positive light and turn it to productive ends. Exploring one of the primary rifts in American politics, Texas vs. California sheds light on virtually every aspect of the country's political system.
Fittingly, the two states are at odds in an important upcoming Supreme Court case.Oyez sums California v. Texas:
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against a constitutional challenge by characterizing the penalty for not buying health insurance as a tax, which Congress has the power to impose. In 2017, the Republican-controlled Congress enacted an amendment to the ACA that set the penalty for not buying health insurance to zero, but it left the rest of the ACA in place. Texas and several other states and individuals filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the individual mandate again, arguing that because the penalty was zero, it can no longer be characterized as a tax and is therefore unconstitutional. California and several other states joined the lawsuit to defend the individual mandate.
The federal district court held that the individual mandate is now unconstitutional and that as a result, the entire ACA is invalidated because the individual mandate cannot be “severed” from the rest of the Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the district court’s conclusion but remanded the case for reconsideration of whether any part of the ACA survives in the absence of the individual mandate. The Supreme Court granted California’s petition for review, as well as Texas’s cross-petition for review.