A federal judge ruled on Friday that Donald Trump’s leading steward of public lands has been serving unlawfully, blocking him from continuing in the position in the latest pushback against the administration’s practice of filling key positions without Senate approval.
Interior department Bureau of Land Management acting director William Perry Pendley served unlawfully for 424 days without being confirmed to the post by the Senate as required under the constitution, US district judge Brian Morris determined.
In July, Montana’s Democratic governor sued to remove Pendley, saying the former oil industry attorney was illegally overseeing an agency that manages almost a quarter of a billion acres of land, primarily in the west.
“Today’s ruling is a win for the constitution, the rule of law, and our public lands,” Governor Steve Bullock said on Friday. Environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers from western states also cheered the move.
The ruling will be immediately appealed,…