Why the Firing of Sally Yates is Significant

Sophia Paiste, Writer

Sally Yates is one of the top lawyers in the US and she was recently deprived of her job by President Donald Trump. Yates was fired because “she refused to have the Department of Justice (DOJ) defend his temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations in court,” according to The Hill. While there has been quite some controversy regarding whether she was in the right or wrong in denying that the ban should be put in place, she no doubt was entirely essential to the government’s legal defense. Sally Yates became the attorney general on the day that President Trump was inaugurated.

“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Yates said in a letter, according to The New York Times. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

In another statement, she said, “For 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.” After that statement, she was quickly fired. Sally Yates mentioned that she would continuously stand up for what is right, even if it meant defying the president, and this was said when she was being confirmed for Barack Obama.

Yates was originally appointed as Deputy Attorney General by former president Barack Obama back in the beginning of 2015. After she got confirmed just shy of two years ago in May, she immediately became the second highest ranking person in the Justice Department. Republicans disliked Yates at first; however, she was still approved on a 84-12 vote, according to The Washington Times.

As Deputy Attorney General, Sally Yates oversaw 116,000 employees, including the FBI, the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Prisons, as The Washington Post states. As Heavy states in other words, when Sally Yates was Deputy Attorney General for Barack Obama, she said one of her goals would be granting clemency to nonviolent drug ­offenders. The Obama administration ultimately granted clemency to more individuals than any administration since Harry Truman. “Those policies were enacted at a time of an exploding violent crime rate and serious crack problems,” Yates said in 2015, referring to drug sentencing policies from the 1980s and 1990s. “They were based on the environment we were in. But things have changed now, and violent crime rates have dropped dramatically.”

Yates was intended to be temporary Attorney General, at least until President Trump had his own nominee for attorney general confirmed. Mr. Trump’s pick was Jeff Sessions. Mr. Sessions, a politician and lawyer, was recently confirmed for the official Attorney General position. Sessions is and has been greatly disliked by Democrats, primarily because of his votes on issues in the past. The American Civil Liberties Union encouraged a delay in the voting for Sessions to be confirmed until after Donald Trump’s travel ban was lifted.