The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit in the Sacremento federal court on Monday. Attorney General Jeff Sessions argues that a California law which professes states have the power to block the sale of federal land is unconstitutional.
According to the DOJ, states lack the right to make decisions about the use of federal lands, and they’re seeking an injunction to the bill.
“The Constitution empowers the federal government — not state legislatures — to decide when and how federal lands are sold. California was admitted to the Union upon the express condition that it would never interfere with the disposal of federal land,” said Sessions.
From The Hill: The bill, passed into law in October, was viewed largely as a direct check against the Trump administration, which has over the past year sought to increase oil and gas drilling on public lands and shrunk the boundaries of two national monuments.
The bill was passed as part of a trio in an overarching “Preserve California” package. The bill now under challenge by the Trump administration expressly seeks to discourage the sale of federal public land without the state’s permission — by giving California the right of “first refusal.”
In his statement, Sessions criticizes the California law as one of many “extreme” maneuvers taken by the state.
“Once again, the California legislature has enacted an extreme state law attempting to frustrate federal policy. The Justice Department shouldn’t have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the rightful prerogatives of the U.S. military, the Interior Department, and other federal agencies to buy, sell, exchange or donate federal properties in a lawful manner in the national interest,” Sessions said.
The DOJ has also sued California over its sanctuary laws, although California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra said California plans to meet the DOJ’s “courtroom challenge,” according to the news outlet.