San Juan withdraws from Bears Ears lawsuit

San Juan County has dropped its position that had sided with President Donald Trump in a lawsuit over the president’s decision to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument, according to a recent court filing.

“At the time San Juan moved for intervention, the San Juan County Commission in place at the time supported the intervention. Following the recent election, the new 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.

In 2017, a number of Native American tribes brought a lawsuit against Trump over his decision to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument. After that lawsuit began, the San Juan County Commission filed a motion siding with the White House in the matter.

A federal judge, in a separate matter, then ruled that San Juan County’s Commission and school board boundaries were racially gerrymandered. Though Native Americans are the majority in San Juan County, they had a minority position in the county’s political representation, according to the ruling.

A special election following the ruling shifted power in favor of the Navajo Nation, which overlaps with the county.

The three-person commission that resulted, now consisting of two Native Americans who are also Democrats, has now withdrawn from the county’s lawsuit against tribal groups.