The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against the state of California Monday seeking an injunction against a state law [materials, text] that prohibits the sale of federal land.
The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District Court of California, also names California Governor Jerry Brown and the California State Land Commission [official websites] as parties to the lawsuit.
The complaint argues that the state law, Senate Bill 50 (SB 50), passed in October 2017, is unconstitutional because it discriminates against the US and therefore violates intergovernmental immunity and the Supremacy Clause [Cornell LII material]. It also quotes the Act for the Admission of the State of California into the Union and stresses that it automatically invalidates SB 50:
California is admitted into the Union upon the express condition that the people of said State, through their legislature or otherwise, shall never interfere with the primary disposal of the public lands within its limits, and shall pass no law and do no act whereby the title of the United States to, and right to dispose of, the same shall be impaired or questioned.
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. Examples include conveyance of land to Native Americans, a proposed veteran housing project and other military projects.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a statement [text] about the lawsuit on Monday:
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. We are confident that we will prevail in this case—because the facts are on our side.
This is the second lawsuit the DOJ has filed against California in the past month. The first, filed in March, was to stop the implementation of Californian immigration laws [JURIST report].