Accountability in the Deep State


In October of 2017, Joel Clement—a federal civil servant who had headed the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis since 2011—wrote a stinging resignation letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. In it, Clement accused Zinke and President Trump of having “waged an all-out assault on the civil service by muzzling scientists and policy experts like myself.” The story behind Joel Clement’s resignation—a story still unfolding as of this Article’s writing in 2018—provides a window into the relationship between the political leadership and the civil service at the Interior Department in the first year of the Trump administration. It also serves as a jumping-off point to revisit the value in having a civil service with some independence from politics, and to consider mechanisms to protect that independence. This Article explores those questions through the lens of Clement’s resignation.

About the Author

Professor, University of Minnesota Law School

By uclalaw