WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced April 2 that it has levied allegations of violating the U.S. Constitution against the state of California, Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr., and the California State Lands Commission.
The Justice Department filed a civil action in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California alleging California Senate Bill 50 (SB50), enacted in October 2017, is unconstitutional. The law allows state agencies the power to block federal land sales.
“The Constitution empowers the federal government—not state legislatures—to decide when and how federal lands are sold,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “California was admitted to the Union upon the express condition that it would never interfere with the disposal of federal land. And yet, once again, the California legislature has enacted an extreme state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.”
The Justice Department seeks an injunction to block the implementation of SB50. According to the department, the state law discriminates against the United States and its transaction partners.
“Since the founding of the Republic, it has been fundamental to our constitutional system that a state may not discriminate against the United States or those with whom it deals,” McGregor W. Scott, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, said in a statement. “We will vigorously defend this principle.”