GOP Sen Chides Yates On Travel Ban: ‘Who Appointed You To The Supreme Court?’

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on Monday took a swipe at former acting Attorney General Sally Yates over her refusal to enforce the Trump administration’s first travel ban, asking her, “Who appointed you to the Supreme Court?”

Kennedy devoted most of his allotted time during Monday’s Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russia’s interference in the election to questioning Yates’ authority to oppose President Donald Trump’s ban.

“Do you believe it’s constitutional or unconstitutional?” Kennedy asked.

Yates said she thought the order, which would prevent refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., would violate the constitutional protection ensuring freedom of religion.

“There was no way in the world I could send folks in there to argue something that we didn’t believe to be the truth,” she said.

After an extended back-and-forth with Kennedy, Yates told him that she was “of course” not a Supreme Court justice.

“Look, we really wrestled over this decision,” she said. “I personally wrestled over this decision. It was not one that I took lightly at all. But it was because I took my responsibilities seriously.”

“I believe that it is the responsibility of the attorney general, if the president asks him or her to do something that he or she believes is unlawful or unconstitutional, to say no,” Yates added.

Other Republican senators, most notably Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), chastised Yates during the hearing for refusing to enforce Trump’s ban.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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