A federal judge ruled on Sunday that Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II was unlawfully appointed to lead United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and that two policies he put in place that limited asylum seekers’ access to counsel should be nullified.
The judge, Randolph D. Moss of United States District Court in Washington, said the Trump administration violated a federal law that stipulates who can fill vacant leadership positions at federal agencies when Mr. Cuccinelli was tapped in June to be the acting director of the agency that oversees legal immigration.
The statute related to Mr. Cuccinelli’s appointment is the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which says an official temporarily filling a cabinet-level position before Senate confirmation must be next in the line of succession by serving as the “first assistant” or must have worked as a senior official in the agency for at least 90 days. Mr. Cuccinelli, the former Virginia attorney general who aggressively defended Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda on television in the months before his appointment, did not meet either of those requirements, according to the ruling.
But Nitin Shah, senior counsel at Democracy Forward, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said lawyers would examine how other policies could be affected.
“It raises serious questions about the legality of a number of policies that Cuccinelli has enacted and may yet enact, and we and others will be taking a closer look at that in the coming days,” Mr. Shah said. He called the voiding of the asylum directives “a big blow for the Trump administration’s racist agenda.”
The only saving grace of the Trump administration is that they are incompetent.