America First Legal has sued President Joe Biden for ousting former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and former Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought from the U.S. Naval Academy board of visitors.
Spicer, now a host of Newsmax's "Spicer & Co.," and Vought were appointed to the board by then-President Donald Trump, and the Biden administration has been purging its predecessor's appointments since he took office in January.
"This illegal partisan power-grab is just another example of the Biden Administration breaking longstanding bipartisan norms and traditions," America First Legal wrote in a statement announcing the lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Washington.
The lawsuit claims the president has no lawful authority to terminate members of the board of visitors because term-limited board members historically remain in their positions for the duration of their term, regardless of an administration change. Unlike presidential advisory boards, the Academy board is a statutory board enacted in law by Congress to provide oversight.
Also, the lawsuit argues, the Biden administration has prevented these boards from meeting, obstructing necessary and important business from moving forward.
"Sean Spicer and Russ Vought are American patriots who were appointed to positions on the Board of Visitors at the United States Naval Academy because of their ability to contribute to the board with their unique skills and tremendous experiences," America First Legal Vice President Gene Hamilton wrote in a statement.
"President Biden's threatened dismissal of them before their terms expire — from the purely advisory Board of Visitors, an entity that exercises no executive power whatsoever— violates the law. Our clients have every right to serve every single day remaining in their terms."
The move by the Biden administration would set a dangerous precedent for future administrations clearing appointments, he added.
"For a president who has pledged to unify the country, terminating two highly qualified individuals from serving on this board instead of focusing on the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan that left Americans stranded, is clearly an attempt to distract the American people," Hamilton's statement concluded. "The administration is clearly trying to avoid the oversight that Congress set out to achieve."
Former Trump White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster were also forced out by Biden late this summer. Neither Conway nor McMaster was listed on the America First lawsuit Thursday.
"The president's objective is what any president’s objective is, which is to ensure you have nominees and people serving on these boards who are qualified to serve on them and who are aligned with your values," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing after the Trump appointees were served letters demanding their resignations before they would be terminated.
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