Attorney General Jeff Sessions blasted California in a statement Monday afternoon on the lawsuit filed earlier by the U.S. Department of Justice against the state over a 2017 law restricting sales of federal land.
The law, SB 50, gives the California State Lands Commission right of first refusal on any federal land sale in California. The Trump administration argues that the law is unconstitutional.
In a statement, Sessions said:
I regret the need to file yet another lawsuit against the state of California today. The Department of Justice is fighting every day to take guns and drugs off our streets, combat the opioid epidemic and secure our borders from drug traffickers and criminal aliens, and protect our national security from radical Islamic extremists and foreign threats to our cyber security. But once again, we see that too many of our resources are being diverted to deal with meritless and unnecessary lawsuits.
We are forced to spend our resources to bring these lawsuits against states like California that believe they are above the law and are passing facially unconstitutional laws specifically intended to interfere with the federal government’s ability to carry out its legitimate law enforcement duties. And we are forced spend our resources to defend against lawsuits that are patently meritless like one now filed by California claiming that adding back a question on citizenship to the census is unconstitutional after decades of its inclusion. Both of these lawsuits are forcing us to spend precious tax payer dollars and Department resources to litigate issues that most Americans believe are common sense—the executive branch should be able to remove criminal aliens from a jail instead of your neighborhood, the federal government should have an accurate count of who can legally vote in our federal elections, a Department should be able to rescind an unlawful policy intended to usurp Congress’ role in passing immigration laws, or that the President should be able to know who is coming into our country from countries that are terrorist havens.
The waste is compounded by ideological judging and forum shopping that drags these cases out for months and years. In the meantime, the federal government can be prevented from carrying out its lawful duties by a single district court judge regardless of how many of the other 600 plus district court judges may disagree. The increasing frequency of limitless injunctions is simply unsustainable, and the ever-more extreme nature of these injunctions is only making it more obvious just how unlawful they are. This is not a political or a partisan issue. It is a constitutional issue and a rule of law issue and, more frequently now, a question of how we are allocating our tax payer dollars—to protecting Americans from violent crime and a raging drug epidemic or defending frivolous lawsuits from partisan actors.
Government-by-litigation isn’t what the American people voted for and attempting to thwart an administration’s elected agenda through endless, meritless lawsuits is a dangerous precedent.
The new lawsuit is the latest salvo in a legal war between California and the Trump administration. Last month, Sessions traveled to California as the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit challenging California’s “sanctuary state” laws restricting cooperation with federal immigration law enforcement.