US Justice Department Challenges Another California Law

Hannah Rogers
April 5, 2018

As the Trump administration went to court to void a California law obstructing the sale of federal land, the state was threatening to sue the USA if it waters down automobile fuel-efficiency standards.

The department on Monday filed a lawsuit in federal court in California, seeking an injunction against the enforcement of a recently passed state law that effectively blocks the sale or transfer of federal lands in the country's third-largest state by area.

The lawsuit alleges that the state is violating the US Constitution with its Federal Public Lands law, passed in October 2017, that gives the state's land commission the chance to buy federal land before the US government tries to hand it over to a private entity, according to McClatchy.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued his own statement saying the U.S.is "forced to spend our resources to bring these lawsuits against states like California that believe they are above the law". At the time, California officials said the bill was necessary because of fears President Trump would permit drilling or development on the roughly 46 million acres of land in California owned by the federal government.

Known as SB 50, the law also seeks to penalize with fines up to $5,000 any person who knowingly files real estate records relating to a federal land transfer unless the California government certifies that the transfer complies with state law.

In a separate statement, Becerra said the state's public lands shouldn't be on the auction block to the highest bidder. "We hope the Trump administration turns away from misguided and unpopular land giveaways".

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Monday's legal salvos were the latest in a series of showdowns over numerous USA initiatives, particularly on immigration and the environment, that clash with California's more liberal policies.

Xavier Becerra, California's attorney general, vowed to fight the lawsuit.

Environmentalists in the state are incensed over a previous presidential order directing the Bureau of Land Management to consider changes to protections for the state's deserts.

The move escalates the war between California and the Trump administration.

Trump lambasted Brown, referring to him as "Gov". Is this really what the great people of California want? This is the second lawsuit the DOJ has filed against California in the past month.

Sessions also complained about a California lawsuit that challenges the federal government's recent decision to add back a question about citizenship to the census questionnaire.

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