By Sydney Jones
On the reality show The Apprentice, President Trump was famous for the phrase “you’re fired” as a way to tell contestants they were cut from the show.
This happened to Sally Yates, but with a difference. She was a not a contestant on a reality show, but the acting attorney general of the United States.
Yates was the acting attorney general for 10 days before being replaced due to her defiance against President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants and refugees from entering the country.
On Jan. 30, The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, released a statement explaining the reason for her termination.
“The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States… It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals traveling from seven dangerous places is not extreme,” Spicer said.
I believe this statement over-simplifies a problem that starts with the amount of power our modern executive branch possesses.
The legal order that Yates would not support was President Trump’s executive order which places an immigration ban for 90 days on people from majority Muslim countries. In a letter to Justice Department lawyers, Yates expressed her concern over the order.
“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,” Yates said.
I am not fully opposed to an immigration freeze so that the vetting process can be reformed. But the countries this ban is targeting are a significantly lesser threat than others that are not affected, due to the fact that most of these people are refugees fleeing war. One of the countries that the executive order conveniently excluded, Saudi Arabia, is the country where 15 out of the 19 people responsible for the 9/11 attacks were originally from.
I could go on and on about the reasons why this particular executive order is unconstitutional, but the main point is that Yates did nothing wrong by choosing not to support the order and should not have been fired as the result.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice website, the main responsibilities of an attorney general are to represent the U.S. in broad legal matters and also gives their legal opinion to the president and top government executives.
As attorney general, Yates was not required to agree or support Trump’s executive order. However, this seems to be the attitude that Trump is taking towards this situation. Some argue that Yates was overstepping her boundaries by advising Justice Department lawyers not to pursue legal actions supporting the executive order on immigrants and refugees.
I respect our president and I believe he has great potential to make positive changes in this country. But I worry that this action is a sign of a future trend of abusing power. I do not think that Yates’ actions were grounds to fire her. She was trying to do what she believed was best, and she was punished for it.
When a president who is famous for shouting “you’re fired” starts doing that to federal employees simply because they don’t agree with him, that borders on a dictatorship, and we as the American people cannot allow this to happen.