BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the Trump administration’s leading steward of public lands has been serving unlawfully and blocked him from continuing in the position.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris said Friday that U.S. Bureau of Land Management acting director William Perry Pendley was never confirmed to the post by the U.S. Senate as required under the Constitution.

Morris wrote in his ruling in (Gov.) Steve Bullock v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management that "The Court Declares that William Perry Pendley served unlawfully as the Acting BLM Director for 424 days; the Court enjoins William Perry Pendley from exercising authority of BLM Director; the Court enjoins Interior Secretary David Bernhardt from unlawfully delegating the authority of the BLM Director...."

Interior Department spokesman Conner Swanson told The Associated Press that the ruling will be appealed. Swanson said President Barack Obama's administration had similarly filled key posts at the agency with temporary authorizations.

The ruling marks the latest pushback against the administration’s practice of filling key positions without U.S. Senate approval.

The agency oversees almost a quarter-billion acres of land, primarily in the U.S. West.

The environmental organization Center for Western Priorities, complimented the court's ruling, saying, “William Perry Pendley should never have been in a position to lead the Bureau of Land Management. He has spent his entire career seeking to undermine and sell off our public lands, all to increase drilling and mining. His shameful legacy will be one of dismantling the agency he was supposed to lead and opening our public lands to widespread oil and gas drilling in the face of accelerating climate change.”

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

The Worst Reviews of Wyoming from Awful Tourists