US Justice Department Challenges Another California Law

Glen Norman
April 5, 2018

- Seventeen states, the District of Columbia and six cities sued the USA government Tuesday, saying a plan to add a citizenship demand to the census questionnaire is unconstitutional.

The law, which went into effect January 1, gives the State Lands Commission the power to block the sale, donation, or exchange of federal lands by the federal government to any other person or entity.

Environmental groups widely see the law, which came into effect at the beginning of the year, as a way of preventing the federal government from selling land for resource-extraction and other private development.


The complaint argues that the state law, Senate Bill 50 (SB 50), passed in October 2017, is unconstitutional because it discriminates against the USA and therefore violates intergovernmental immunity and the Supremacy Clause [Cornell LII material].

The Justice Department lawsuit, filed in federal court in Sacramento, argues that the state has no power to interfere with federal land sales, citing the Constitution and the 1850 act of Congress that admitted California to the union. The complaint gives several examples of federal land [DOJ report] that was ready for purchase but have been prohibited from proceeding because of SB 50. "And yet, 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 USA military, the Interior Department, and other federal agencies to buy, sell, exchange or donate federal properties in a lawful manner in the national interest", Mr. Sessions said. That suit is ongoing.


Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is also a member of the Lands Commission and running for governor as well, also promised to fight the Trump administration.

The legal action is yet another clash between President Trump and California's liberal movement determined to demonstrate its resistance to his presidency and policies.

The plaintiffs, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, saw an ulterior motive.


The administration in early March announced it would challenge the state's so-called sanctuary policies, restricting local law enforcement's communication with federal immigration authorities. "Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown", highlighted that the crimes he pardoned included "kidnapping and robbery", "badly beating wife", and "dealing drugs". Asking about citizenship, the lawsuit said, "will fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count".

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