Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Illegal Orders

The news this week contains so many outrages, and so many ways that people are attempting to resist, that I'm overwhelmed. I'm also making phone calls and posting emails to elected authorities, and hope we still have a democracy where this is a useful tactic. In many ways, the refusal of the Executive Branch to listen to Federal court orders feels like democracy is really endangered.

Sally Quillian Yates from the New York Times. (link)
One scary happening: Sally Quillian Yates, the US acting attorney general, was fired for her refusal to allow her department to defend what she evaluated to be an unlawful executive order. She questioned the order to prevent entry to the US of holders of valid visas and green cards. "As long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so," she wrote.

She was fired almost immediately, and replaced with a more compliant attorney. As described in the Washington Post:
"On Monday afternoon, only days away from stepping down from her 27-year career in the Justice Department, Yates defied President Trump, ordering federal attorneys not to defend the controversial immigration order issued Friday.
"Yates, 56, struggled with her decision over the weekend, said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. By Monday, though, she had concluded that she could not ask her federal attorneys to defend the order." -- from "Who is Sally Yates? Meet the acting attorney general Trump fired for ‘betraying’ the Justice Department" by Sari Horwitz, January 30 at 11:33 PM
From the New York Times: "The firing of Ms. Yates came at the end of a turbulent three days that began on Friday with Mr. Trump’s signing of his executive order. The action stranded travelers around the world, led to protests around the country and created alarm inside the bureaucracy. ... Ms. Yates said her determination in deciding not to defend the order was broader, however, and included questions not only about the order’s lawfulness, but also whether it was a 'wise or just' policy. She also alluded to unspecified statements the White House had made before signing the order, which she factored into her review."  (link)

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