This week, Montana Governor Steve Bullock filed a lawsuit to enjoin William Perry Pendley from exercising any authority over the federal Bureau of Land Management, which Bullock says is in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, and the U.S. Constitution.

Governor Bullock’s chief legal counsel Raph Graybill explained the purpose of Bullock’s lawsuit.

“One of the basic tenants of the Constitution is that it guards against unchecked power,” said Graybill. “The most basic check on government power, dividing it between three branches, is the requirement that the President’s appointees get confirmed by the U.S. Senate. For well over a year in violation of the Constitution and of federal law, William Perry Pendley has served as acting director of the BLM, and he’s either got to step down, or get a vote, and until he does it’s a violation of the Constitution and federal law.”

Graybill said Pendley’s use of government authority is premature.

“Actually, he’s been serving in an active role for over a year without even being nominated,” he said. “It was only about two weeks ago that this issue finally came to light and he was officially nominated. Well, the Constitution and the law still say if you’re an acting director you’ve either got to get a vote or step down, and until one of those two things happen you’re in violation of the Constitution and federal law.”

Graybill explained how the BLM has been able to continue with Pendley as the acting director.

“The way they’ve done it is by every few months they issue a new internal directive that basically says ‘William Pendley Perry, though he is not technically the director, serves and has all the powers of being an acting director. It’s exactly that situation that the Constitution and federal law say you can’t do, so making it illegal.”

According to the Associated Press, the Trump administration calls the lawsuit ‘nonsense’ and say Pendley was never formally named acting director even though he was exercising that authority.

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