Justice Department suing California over federal land sales

It seems as if the state Attorney General of California is suing the Trump administration over this or that complaint every other week, so perhaps turnabout is fair play, as the saying goes. In another highly political move to #RESIST Donald Trump, California put a new law into effect in January which would allow the state to block the sale of federal lands there to private entities. Seeing a clear violation of the Supremacy Clause, the Justice Department is taking the Golden State to court, claiming they have far overstepped their authority in such matters. (Washington Times)

The Trump administration has escalated its legal battle with California announcing Monday that the Department of Justice has sued California over a state law that gives California the power to block the sale of federal land to private parties.

Passed in October, Senate Bill 50 went into effect Jan. 1. It gave state officials the right to purchase any federal land in California before the U.S. government sells it. 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.

Justice Department officials say the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy and Property clauses. The Supreme Clause puts federal law ahead of state law when there is a conflict and the Property Clause gives Congress the power to sell or transfer federal land.

Their AG is responding already, claiming that California is within its legal rights, but their argument seems to hinge on some rather dubious semantics. Xavier Becerra, who seems to begin each day looking for something new to sue the White House over rather than overseeing matters in California, is claiming that their new law doesn’t interfere with the sale of federal lands. Instead, they are just preventing the transfer of the deed from being recorded and imposing fines on anyone who records such a transfer. How that doesn’t amount to interference is a mystery, and the DoJ has already described it as, “a distinction without a difference.”

So what sales are being obstructed by California? You might assume that the Evil Trump Empire was looking to sell off some public dog parks to oil developers the way Becerra is describing it. But in reality, the three current sales under discussion are quite a different matter. One is a plan wherein the Army would transfer 78 acres in Dublin, California to a private company who will construct U.S. Army training facilities. A second would see the Navy unload some abandoned military housing to a private developer who will convert it to civilian housing. (You may recall that California is facing a massive housing crisis at the moment, so one might be tempted to think that Becerra would be in favor of this.)

A third proposed sale would allow the transfer of some land west of Los Angeles so that the VA can contract out the construction of housing for local veterans. And these are the types of transfers that California wants to block simply in the name of declaring a “victory” over the President?

The leadership in Sacramento has collectively lost their minds at this point. As distasteful as it may be to invoke the phrase Trump Derangement Syndrome, California’s Governor, Attorney General and the Democrats in the state legislature have clearly contracted an incurable case of it. They’re cutting off the state’s nose to spite their own face, all in the name of branding themselves the leaders of the #RESIST movement. But should we have any sympathy for the residents of California over all of this? Not if they keep electing the same group of clowns to run the circus.

Remember once again the words of H. L. Mencken. We all get the government we deserve.