A southeastern Utah county commission that used to be a vocal opponent of the Bears Ears National Monument created by President Barack Obama is switching sides in the debate now that it is controlled by Democrats.
The San Juan County Commission filed a notice Tuesday in federal court to withdraw as an objecting intervenor to lawsuits filed by conservation and tribal groups challenging President Donald Trump’s downsizing of the monument in 2017.
In a new court filing, writes FOX 13, the county gave notice it would no longer side with the president in the ongoing litigation filed by tribal groups.
“At the time San Juan moved for intervention, the County Commission supported the intervention. Following the recent election of a new County Commission in San Juan County, the County Commission no longer supports San Juan’s involvement in this litigation. Upon full consideration San Juan now seeks withdrawal from this lawsuit,” the filing states.
The victory in the November election by Willie Grayeyes gave Democrats two of the three commissioner seats. He is a member of the Navajo Nation, which overlaps with the county.
It was the first general election since a federal judge decided racially gerrymandered districts illegally minimized the voices of Navajo voters who make a slim majority of the county’s population.
The election led to a Native American and Democrat-majority commission that has now withdrawn from the lawsuit. The court case seeking to overturn Trump’s decision to shrink Bears Ears remains in a D.C. court.
Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.