A federal judge in Montana has ruled that President Donald Trump’s acting Bureau of Land Management chief must step down because his position was never confirmed by the Senate, NPR reports — and the president isn’t happy.
According to NPR, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) filed the lawsuit that led to the ruling. The judge decided in favor of Bullock, ruling that William Perry Pendley should not be in the position and must bow out.
Pendley on the chopping block
Pendley has held the position for more than a year after being appointed acting head of the agency in June 2019. Trump formally nominated Pendley for the position in June, but the nomination proved controversial and the president withdrew it in August after pressure from Senate Democrats and a few Republicans, NPR noted.
More than a month later, Pendley continues to serve in the position in a temporary capacity while Trump decides on a permanent nominee.
But that has apparently come to an end.
It’s all thanks to Bullock, who is running for Senate in what NPR described as a tight race against incumbent state Sen. Steve Daines (R). The Montana governor sees the issue of land management as gaining him points with voters that could help him win — and he’s apparently not afraid to knock Pendley in the process.
“Today’s ruling is a win for the Constitution, the rule of law, and our public lands,” Bullock said following the decision, according to NPR.
His sentiment was echoed by president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, Collin O’Mara, who applauded Pendley’s apparent ouster.
“William Perry Pendley was an unmitigated disaster for the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Interior,” O’Mara said in a statement.
He went on: “Pendley’s long-overdue ouster — thanks to the leadership of Governor Steve Bullock and millions of conservationists who spoke out — is welcome news, but it comes more than a year after he was improperly installed and hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands have been degraded.”
Pendley indeed has controversial views on land management, including the view that land should be sold or transferred back to states. In his work as an attorney, Pendley often argued against the very agency he now leads.
The Trump administration, for its part, is reportedly outraged at the judge’s ruling and says it will be appealed “immediately,” according to NPR.