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Governor Bullock Requests Expedited Review to Declare William Perry Pendley’s Continued Service as Acting Director Unconstitutional

Governor Steve Bullock today asked a federal court in Montana to declare on expedited review that William Perry Pendley’s continued service as acting director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violates the United States Constitution, and to enjoin Pendley from continuing to serve unlawfully.

“William Perry Pendley is breaking the law, and at stake are over 27 million acres of public lands in Montana,” Governor Bullock said. “Even after his nomination in the Senate was withdrawn, Pendley continues to serve as acting director of the BLM in direct violation of the United States Constitution.”

On July 20, Governor Bullock filed a lawsuit to enjoin William Perry Pendley from continuing to exercise the authority of acting director at BLM in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act and the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution’s Appointments Clause requires that the President nominate, and that the Senate confirm, the heads of significant federal agencies—a process that the Supreme Court has referred to as a “critical structural safeguard” of our democracy.

Today’s motion for summary judgement asks for expedited review in the case, particularly as Pendley remains acting director even after his nomination was withdrawn, in direct contravention to the United States Constitution and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

From the time Governor Bullock filed the lawsuit on July 20, Pendley finalized two important plans that govern large tracts of public land in Montana. Pendley’s decisions as acting director have also directly threatened successful, bipartisan conservation efforts to avoid a listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, which would adversely affect private landowners in Montana. These and other actions led by Pendley during his unlawful tenure as acting director threaten public lands in Montana and across the nation.

The Governor’s brief is attached.