By Sarah N. Lynch and Dan Levine
WASHINGTON / SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The US Department of Justice is suing California over a state law that aims to prevent the Trump administration from selling or transferring federal land to private corporations, striking the state with another legal challenge.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court Monday in Sacramento, the state capital, comes less than a month after the Justice Department launched legal action against three California laws aimed primarily at protecting illegal immigrants from the deportation.
“California has once again passed an extreme statute that cannot be found in any other state to obstruct the federal government, this time interfering with the transfer of federal land,” Acting Third Justice Department Official Jesse Panuccio told reporters. .
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement that his office is prepared to protect state resources.
“Our public lands should not be up for auction to the highest bidder,” Becerra said.
Gov. Jerry Brown accused the Trump administration last month of declaring war on the most populous state in the United States after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit over California’s immigration laws. A hearing in that case is scheduled for June.
The latest legal action involves California Senate Bill 50, which became law in October and gives the state the right of first refusal over many federal land transfers.
If the California State Land Commission waives its right of first refusal, it issues a certificate of compliance. Without this document, the land transfer cannot be legally registered with a county property office.
The Justice Department in its lawsuit argues that federal law supersedes Senate Bill 50.
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