Sally Yates on Immigration
Following the inauguration of Donald Trump and the departure of Attorney General Loretta Lynch on January 20, 2017, Yates served as Acting Attorney General for 10 days. She was dismissed for insubordination by President Trump on January 30, after she instructed the Justice Department not to make legal arguments defending Executive Order 13769, which temporarily banned the admission of refugees and barred travel from certain Muslim-majority countries. Rather than defend it, Yates stated the order was neither defensible in court nor consistent with the Constitution. Large portions of the order were subsequently blocked by federal courts, though the Supreme Court ultimately upheld a revised version. Following her dismissal, Yates returned to private practice.
Yates gathered a dozen Trump staff; she recalled saying, "I'm troubled about this from a constitutional standpoint--but what's the defense to this?" She wasn't impressed by the argument, made by some officials, that the order had nothing to do with religion.
[She concluded that BOJ must], "go into court on something as fundamental as religious freedom. This is a defining, founding principle of our country: religious freedom. How can the Department of Justice go in and defend something that so significantly undermines that, when we're not convinced it's true?"
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