Patriotism Means Loyalty to the Constitution, Not the President

On Monday afternoon, acting Attorney General Sally Yates instructed the Department of Justice not to defend an executive order restricting Muslim travel into the United States. By Monday night, President Donald Trump had fired her.

As Trump sees it, failing to back up the president is an act of unforgiveable disloyalty. Meanwhile, Yates contends that her first duty is to uphold the Constitution, not blindly follow the president.

Only one of them is right. (Hint: it’s Yates.)

The attorney general takes an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” not the president. If the president issues an executive order that does not fall in line with the Constitution, it is literally her obligation to speak up and act accordingly.

“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,” said Yates on Monday. “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.”

Incidentally, President Trump took a similar oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He does not get to issue executive orders that run counter to our founding documents just because he’s president, and doing so is in defiance of his own duties.

If Trump understands that, though, he’s pretending not to. The White House press announcement started, “The acting Attorney General Sally Yates has betrayed the Department of Justice.” Betrayal is a remarkably harsh description of what took place.

Since Trump can’t seem to resist adding an unnecessary personal slam, the next paragraph reads, “Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”

All the proof we need that Yates was acting responsibly by declining to defend an unconstitutional executive order can be seen in a video of Yates being questioned by Senator Jeff Sessions – who is now Trump’s nominee for attorney general.

At the 2015 confirmation hearing, Sessions said:

“You have to watch out because people will be asking you to do things you just need to say ‘no’ about. Do you think the attorney general has the responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that’s improper? If the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?”

Yates very much agreed that the Constitution comes first and she was willing to say no to the president. Perhaps the bigger question is whether or not Sessions, a civil rights obstructionist, will have the same integrity to stand up to the president if and when he is confirmed.

Unfortunately, Yates’s commendable action hasn’t stopped Republicans like Representative Louie Gohmert from publicly declaring Yates a “political hack.”

If Rep. Gohmert is concerned with identifying political hacks, though, he might want to start with his peers. Just a year ago, Vice President Mike Pence wrote, “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.” Paul Ryan wrote, “A religious test for entering our country is not reflective of America’s fundamental values. I reject it.”

Since then, both have expressed support for Trump’s extensive ban on refugees and green card holders alike. How something they considered unconstitutional not long ago is suddenly okay reeks of unpatriotic partisanship.

Admittedly, Yates was never slated to last long in the Trump administration anyway. As a Barack Obama appointee, she was serving in an interim capacity until Trump’s nominee was approved for the job by Congress.

Rather than giving the job to the person next in line for the attorney general job, a move that would make the most sense with Sessions’s confirmation looming, Trump’s administration immediately filled the role vacated by Yates with Dana Boente, a Virginia lawyer.

That could indicate that Trump specifically went down the chain of command until he found someone willing to say he would defend the controversial executive order. Indeed, Boente’s first act as attorney general was to vow to defend the order in court.

From all appearances, Trump is looking for a team of people who are loyal to him, not the Constitution. In doing so he, not Yates, is the one who is betraying his country. The people of the United States would be wise to pay close attention and continually call out the president for failing to live up to his oath.

Photo credit: U.S. Dept of Labor

105 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

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Barbara S.
Barbara S.2 months ago

He only wants people who agree with him. And that includes the GOP. He wants total power and control. Nothing less will satisfy him. He may allow his daughter to occasionally voice her opinion, but he retains the right to always say she's wrong, and go on from there.

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Past Member
Past Member 3 months ago

Correction. Fukumoto, REPUBLICAN, has been REMOVED from her position because she did NOT agree with pos trump.

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Julie D
Julie D3 months ago

I cannot applaud Sally Yates enough for taking a stand against this madman's ineptitude. She correctly performed the job she was appointed to do. Anyone else in her position should have had the same response. I'm sorry it cost her job, but very proud of her at the same time.

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Past Member
Past Member 3 months ago

And now REPUBLICAN Fukumoto of Hawaii is getting threats regarding her job because of HER RIGHT TO MARCH WITH WOMEN.

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Celine Russo
Celine Russo3 months ago

This guy makes me facepalm so much about America right now.

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Karen H
Karen H3 months ago

We need more of our representatives standing up for what's right and not having Trump's hand up their butt to make them his personal sock puppets.

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Lori Hone
Lori Hone3 months ago

Thank you Sally Yates for standing up for this country and her Constitution

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Paul Carter
Paul C3 months ago

The CEO of a company expects total obedience, reality show celebrities expect fans to fawn over them as they turn everything into a personal crisis. If that is what you want for POTUS I look forward to one of the Kardashians standing for president next time.

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Past Member
Past Member 3 months ago

Thank you Annabel Bedini. Repugs cannot handle the truth about those WHITE CONSERVATIVE TERRORISTS. RECORD NUMBER OF THEM LAST YEAR. One of them killed two cops in Ohio last year while sitting in car.

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