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Recusing the Entire Supreme Court

This somewhat off-topic post concerns a civil case that is interesting from a court-watching perspective as well as on the issues of public finance that pervade all government decisions today.

A California appellate court has declined the Governator's request to lift an injunction stopping him from selling off several state buildings and leasing them back before he leaves office.  David Siders has this story in the Sacto Bee.  The deal would trade valuable assets for a one-time infusion of cash and incur a permanent expense.  This is the kind of kick-the-can-down-the-road government financing the Governator was supposed to end when he stormed into Sacramento in what seems like an age ago.

So the only chance of lifting the injunction lies with the California Supreme Court, but there is one problem. Their building is one of the assets in question.

In California, the conflict is handled by the justices recusing themselves and seven court of appeal justices being designated to hear the case.  SCOTUS has no equivalent procedure, so they go ahead and hear cases concerning their own building.  See United States v. Grace, 461 U.S. 171 (1983).

There is, of course, a better approach to selling the Cal. Supreme building.  There is no valid reason for a court of statewide jurisdiction to be located on extremely valuable real estate in a city that is not the state capital.  If the state owns the asset, there is a huge opportunity cost in being there.  If the state leases the asset, the rent will be huge.  So the obvious solution is to sell the building and buy cheaper but equally functional digs in a lower-cost city such as Sacramento.  Apparently nobody is even considering that.

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