Guest Commentary Opinion

Guest Column: Sally Yates should not be applauded

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Those who disapprove of President Donald Trump’s controversial ban on immigration are championing Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who announced Monday that she would give an order that the Department of Justice would not defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

President Trump removed her from office Monday evening, selecting Dana Boente, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia to replace Yates as Acting Attorney General.  

Many will see Mrs. Yates as having taking the moral high ground on this issue. Those who disagree in policy or principle with President Trump’s immigration ban are siding with Yates based on those beliefs.

The Democratic National Committee has gone so far as to issue a statement calling Yates a “heroic patriot” and the Trump administration a “tyrannical presidency.”

This is false partisan rhetoric and we should be careful to avoid glorifying an act of insubordination.

President Trump issued a lawful executive order that was reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel. If Yates disagreed so strongly with the order, she should have brought her concerns directly to the White House. If there was no consensus and her belief was that strong against upholding the order, Yates should have resigned her position before speaking out in the manner that she did.

To be sure, it is confusing why the Trump administration didn’t simply hold off on issuing this order until Sen. Sessions is successfully confirmed. The White House knew full well who was in charge of the department. With that being said, whether or not Yates or other officials at the Justice Department agree personally with the policies of the White House should have no bearing on their ability to defend it in court.

It is one hundred percent acceptable for a private citizen to disagree with the moral implications of an executive action, but it is not legal justification for refusing to carry out the duties of the office.

The President did not order her or the department to do any illegal act. The court system will have the opportunity to judge the constitutionality of this executive order and it should receive zealous defense by the DOJ as any presidential order would receive.

This situation shows a valuable lesson that regardless of personal beliefs, it is important to keep the impartiality and procedural responsibilities of the law in high regard. Partisan politics should not have come into play in such a manner as they did.   

President Trump had every right to remove Yates, and using words like hero or patriot to describe her action sends the wrong message about the law.

Guest columnist Connor Jones is a supply chain and logistics senior and can be reached at [email protected].


  • I agree that Sally Yates should have simply resigned and then made her statement or she could have taken her issue to the white house first. However, I completely disagree that her job is to represent the White House. The White House has a “White House Legal Counsel” for that purpose. The Justice Department represents the people or America. If the White House wanted the Justice Department on-board with their executive order, they should have consulted the Justice Department before issuing it.

    • Her job is certainly not to represent the White House, but I think the issue gets mixed up because of the different offices involved. DOJ actually was consulted since every Presidential order is reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel for form and legality. That is different than the White House Counsel’s Office. It’s up to courts to determine constitutionality if challenged, but there is a legitimate defense to be made, and the statute says so. It would be a different story if perhaps OLC said it wasn’t lawfully formatted and the president went ahead anyway, but her decision was based on personal opinions, not her official capacity.

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