A federal judge ruled Sunday that President Trump’s appointment last year of Ken Cuccinelli to be head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was a violation of federal vacancy laws, and that Cuccinelli lacked the authority to issue policy directives tightening asylum rules.
U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss, an Obama appointee, said the administration violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 when it placed Cuccinelli, a conservative activist and former attorney general of Virginia, in charge of the agency that runs the nation’s legal immigration system.
The ruling amounts to a rebuke of Trump’s stated preference for filling top administration jobs with officials serving in an “acting” capacity. The president has said he prefers having top officials in an acting role because he thinks it makes them easier to remove than those with Senate confirmation.