So far this year, three federal judges have separately found that William Perry Pendley, head of the Bureau of Land Management, and Ken Cuccinelli and Chad Wolf, two top officials at the Department of Homeland Security, served in their de facto positions in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. The 1998 law sets rules for temporarily filling vacant positions in the executive branch and limits the amount of time officials can serve in an acting role to 210 days…

Perhaps the biggest blow to the administration came late last month when U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana ousted Pendley, an anti-federal land extremist, as head of the federal land bureau, ruling that he had illegally served as its acting director for 424 days. That decision came in response to a lawsuit from Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D)…

Morris’ decision could have much broader implications than simply stripping Pendley of his duties overseeing 245 million acres of public land. It opens the door for legal challenges targeting every Bureau of Land Management decision, policy and order since he was designated acting director in July 2019.

“The Court recognizes that any ‘function or duty’ of the BLM Director that has been performed by Pendley would have no force and effect and must be set aside as arbitrary and capricious,” Morris wrote in his opinion. The judge gave the Interior Department and Bullock 10 days to file briefs detailing which of Pendley’s orders should be invalidated.