Sep 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sean Spicer, Russ Vought sue Biden over Naval Academy Board removal

Sean Spicer.

Sean Spicer. Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and former director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought sued President Biden on Thursday over their ouster from the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Why it matters: The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., by the conservative group America First Legal, claims Biden "has no statutory authority to terminate Mr. Spicer’s and Mr. Vought’s appointments to the Board."

  • Vought and Spicer both served in the Trump administration.

Catch up fast: The Biden administration this month asked 18 members of military service advisory boards, including 11 officials appointed by former President Trump, to resign or be fired.

  • Critics said the move created a precedent that politicizes a traditionally nonpartisan — if patronage-heavy — system, writes Axios' Lachlan Markay. Appointees have generally been permitted to serve out their terms regardless of their political affiliations, even after a new president takes office.
  • Biden press secretary Jen Psaki suggested to reporters at the time that members of the board were not qualified to serve, and that the White House was seeking board members "who are aligned with our core values."

What they're saying: “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," wrote AFL vice president and general counsel Gene Hamilton in a news release.

  • "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."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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