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Jeff Sessions and California: The Inevitable Collision

Announcing a new lawsuit against California, U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions called top officials an “embarrassment” in the most recent escalation of the battle between Sessions and the Golden State.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a briefing at the Department of Justice on August 4, 2017.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a briefing at the Department of Justice on August 4, 2017.Yuri Gripas/Reuters

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has had the California grizzly in his sights. Now, capping off a year of state pushback against the federal government on everything from marijuana regulation to immigration, Sessions announced he will sue California over the state’s immigration laws, with scathing remarks that blasted recent immigration comments by top officials an “embarrassment” to the state of California.

In May, the Sacramento Bee wrote about how a showdown between California and the attorney general was inevitable. Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told the Bee that federal justice officials and the liberal state were on a “collision course.” This is partly because of everything California represents to its detractors: environmental regulations, gun control, and hippies. And Sessions leans to the right not just of the state, but of many in his own party. (“He is an outlier in terms of how he thinks about drug policy even with the Republican Party,” Michael Collins, the deputy director for national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington, told The Guardian last year.)