Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates was back in the news Tuesday morning for penning an op-ed in USA Today calling on the American people to “stand up and speak out on America’s core founding values.” Incredibly, she’s calling back to America’s founding documents and making appeals to “the rule of law” in what is doubtlessly a veiled critique of President Trump’s administration.
“Over the course of our nation’s history, we have faced inflection points — times when we had to decide who we are as a country and what we stand for,” Yates writes. “Beyond policy disagreements and partisan gamesmanship, there is something much more fundamental hanging in the balance. Will we remain faithful to our country’s core values?”
Sally Yates, you will recall, was fired by President Trump in January after, in her capacity as acting attorney general, she told the Department of Justice that its lawyers should not defend the immigration pause executive order in court. Simply refusing to follow the president’s order, she did not explain how the immigration pause was unconstitutional. Now she is calling back to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the context of preserving “the rule of law” and keeping a “wall of separation” between the Justice Department and the White House on “criminal cases and investigations.
Our shared values include another essential principle, and that’s the rule of law — the promise that the law applies equally to everyone, that no person is above it, and that all are entitled to its protection … The rule of law depends not only on things that are written down, but also on important traditions and norms, such as apolitical law enforcement. That’s why Democratic and Republican administrations alike, at least since Watergate, have honored that the rule of law requires a strict separation between the Justice Department and the White House on criminal cases and investigations. This wall of separation is what ensures the public can have confidence that the criminal process is not being used as a sword to go after one’s political enemies or as a shield to protect those in power.
“It’s what separates us from an autocracy,” Yates said. She doesn’t mention President Trump by name, but she is clearly implying that recent rumors of President Trump’s intention to fire special counsel Robert Mueller would be a violation of this “wall of separation” between the White House and the DOJ — being a “shield to protect those in power,” as it were.
Keep reading, and you’ll find several #Resistance buzz-phrases. “Autocracy;” “failing to tell the truth matters;” “we are not living in normal times.”
It’s all so despicably hypocritical.
Yates appeals to the Constitution and the rule of law after she herself demonstrated contempt for the nation’s founding documents, indeed contempt for the American people, when she unconstitutionally refused to defend the elected president’s constitutional executive order and refused to resign her post.
President Trump’s order was constitutional. The Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department drew this conclusion, and if Yates had a problem with it, she had a duty to resign. The Constitution invests all executive power in the office of the president. The Justice Department is an executive department. In refusing to resign, Yates was usurping the authority of the chief executive, undermining the Constitution, and tossing the rule of law and democratic government into the trash bin.
How can the people of the United States be sovereign when an unelected bureaucrat refuses to obey the order of an elected president? That is true autocracy.
Yates is correct in one thing. These are not ordinary times. The American Left and rogue elements within the administrative state are demonstrating an unprecedented contempt for the rule of law and for the will of the American people. Sally Yates exemplifies the worst elements of this rogue administrative state. Her hypocritical appeals to the Constitution and the rule of law are insulting.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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