Acting US Attorney General Sally Yates, interim successor to Loretta Lynch, has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday to resist defending President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees in court.
Yates said she was unconvinced “that the executive order is lawful.” As such, the DOJ “will not present arguments in defense of the executive order,” she said.
The document has been challenged by district courts throughout the country. A New York judge delayed the impacts of the refugee suspension. Federal magistrates in Alexandria, Virginia, and Boston, Massachusetts have pursued similar courses of action. If Trump is hoping for the Justice Department to come to his aid, he will have to wait until the confirmation of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, who Trump has nominated for US Attorney General.
“As Acting Attorney General, it is my ultimate responsibility to determine” where the agency stands on these issues, stated Yates, adding that the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), one of the executive order’s reviewers, simply guarantees that the “Executive Order is lawful on its face and properly drafted.”
The OLC does not “address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just,” the letter states.
Yates wrote, “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court” are aimed to “seek justice and stand for what is right.” As long as she holds the Acting AG post, Yates will not “present arguments in defense” of Trump’s controversial move.
On Friday, more than 100 travelers were detained for being from countries thought to harbor terrorists. Trump defended his executive action, pointing out that it was a central campaign promise, but former President Barack Obama issued a statement expressing that he “fundamentally disagrees” with the immigration travel ban, pointing to the fact that it discriminates based on on an immigrants’ or refugees’ faith.