Judge to vote on whether to sanction Sally Yates

By Ryan Tronier, CNN

A federal judge in Texas is scheduled to rule Wednesday on whether to sanction former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce a then-recent executive order on immigration that President Donald Trump signed.

The panel of judges is set to vote Wednesday afternoon on whether to hold Yates in contempt of court for refusing to implement a Trump immigration order. Yates served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration.

She notified Trump’s acting attorney general in January that she would not defend the travel ban in court and later went on to decline Trump’s request to defend the administration’s intent to discriminate against Muslims in its recent order targeting that group. The order has caused havoc for many people traveling and living around the world since its implementation in late January.

“The administration’s interpretation of the legal authority is plainly erroneous,” Yates told then-Acting Attorney General Dana Boente in a letter.

Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas sided with Yates, issuing a 21-page order last month denying a request by the Department of Justice to use a rarely used tool that allows the Justice Department to challenge a judge’s order in court.

In deciding to withhold his support, Ramos cited legal concerns in her decision and referenced Trump’s public comments during the campaign calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

“The animus underlying this policy is evident in the president’s public statements, which express his belief that ‘Islam hates us,’” Ramos wrote.

Yates was fired shortly after for her actions.

In her dissent in the case brought by the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he too was concerned about Yates’ memo but expressed support for Trump’s executive order.

“Without question, DHS had the information to launch an effective policy counter-attack on the Court’s finding,” Sessions wrote. “We followed appropriate procedure. We acted appropriately. But more important, it would have been wrong for us not to defend the lawful executive order of the president when he was confronted with an adverse court ruling.”

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