SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A U.S. judge struck down a California law challenged by the Trump administration that aimed to give the state power to override the sale of federal lands.
The law unconstitutionally regulates the U.S. government and discriminates against people seeking to buy federal public land, Judge William Shubb in Sacramento ruled Thursday.
State lawmakers who passed the law – SB50 – last year cited concerns that the Trump administration would allow more logging, oil drilling or development on some of the 46 million acres owned by the federal government in California.
The move prompted a lawsuit in April by the U.S. Department of Justice – one of several lawsuits the administration has filed against California as the state seeks to thwart President Donald Trump’s policies.
California has sued the administration nearly four dozen times, mostly over immigration, the environment and health care.
The California attorney general’s office referred comment on Shubb’s ruling to the State Lands Commission. A message for a spokeswoman for the commission was not immediately returned.
The law sought to give the commission the first right to purchase federal lands or to arrange for a specific buyer.
The DOJ argued in its lawsuit that California had no power to interfere with federal land sales, citing the Constitution and the 1850 act of Congress that admitted California to the union.
It said the state law, which took effect Jan. 1, was delaying land sales – even for projects that had been in the works for years – and was depressing their value.
“The court’s ruling is a firm rejection of California’s assertion that, by legislation, it could dictate how and when the federal government sells federal land,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “This was a stunning assertion of constitutional power by California, and it was properly and promptly dismissed by the district judge.”
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.