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Sally Yates

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Sally Yates
United States Attorney General
In office
January 20, 2017 – January 30, 2017
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byLoretta Lynch
Succeeded byDana Boente
36th United States Deputy Attorney General
In office
January 10, 2015 – January 30, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded byJames M. Cole
Succeeded byRod Rosenstein
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia
In office
March 10, 2010 – January 10, 2015
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byDavid Nahmias
Succeeded byJohn A. Horn (Judiciary Appointed)
In office
July 1, 2004 – December 1, 2004
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byWilliam S. Duffey Jr.
Succeeded byDavid Nahmias
Personal details
Sally Caroline Quillian

(1960-08-20) August 20, 1960 (age 63)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Spouse(s)J. Comer Yates
EducationUniversity of Georgia (BA, JD)

Sally Caroline Quillian Yates (born August 20, 1960 in Atlanta) is an American lawyer. She studied at the University of Georgia and was the acting Attorney General of the United States from January 20, 2017 through January 30, 2017. She was also serving as Deputy Attorney General from March 2015 until her dismissal on January 30, 2017.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[change | change source]

Yates was born in Atlanta to John Kelley Quillian (1930–1986),[4] an attorney and judge who was a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals between 1966 and 1984, and his wife, Xara "Mickey" DeBeaugrine Quillian (née Terrell; 1931–2012), an interior designer.[4][5][6] Her grandmother had been one of the first women admitted to the Georgia Bar; however, she was not hired as an attorney, instead working as a legal secretary for Yates's grandfather.[7]

Yates attended the University of Georgia, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1982. In 1986, she earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Georgia School of Law, graduating magna cum laude. While in law school, Yates was the executive editor of the Georgia Law Review.[8][9]

Dismissal as Acting Attorney General[change | change source]

On January 30, 2017, President Donald Trump fired her after saying she won't defend his executive order on the immigration ban.

Sally Yates explained her decision not to defend the executive order in the following letter to the DOJ employees:

On January 27, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order regarding immigrants and refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries. The order has now been challenged in a number of jurisdictions. As the Acting Attorney General, it is my ultimate responsibility to determine the position of the Department of Justice in these actions.

My role is different from that of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which, through administrations of both parties, has reviewed Executive Orders for form and legality before they are issued. OLC’s review is limited to the narrow question of whether, in OLC’s view, a proposed Executive Order is lawful on its face and properly drafted. Its review does not take account of statements made by an administration or it surrogates close in time to the issuance of an Executive Order that may bear on the order’s purpose. And importantly, it does not address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just.

Similarly, in litigation, DOJ Civil Division lawyers are charged with advancing reasonable legal arguments that can be made supporting an Executive Order. But my role as leader of this institution is different and broader. My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, 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. 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.

Consequently, for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.[10]

2015 Confirmation Hearing[change | change source]

A career prosecutor in Atlanta who has served under both Republican and Democrat administrations, Sally Yates has been hailed as a hero by both parties. Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, introduced her at her confirmation hearing in 2015.

She will be a hero of the American people, a hero of what’s right,” Mr. Isakson said at the time. “She’ll call them like she sees them, and she will be fair, and she will be just.”

At those hearings, Republicans were furious about former President Barack Obama's order liberalizing immigration policy and questioned Ms. Yates about whether she would be willing to stand up to the president. Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama and Mr. Trump's nominee for attorney general, was particularly pointed in his questioning.

If the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say 'No?’” Mr. Sessions asked.

"I believe the attorney general or deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and Constitution and give their independent legal advice to the president,” Ms. Yates replied.[11]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Sally Yates, Pick for Loretta Lynch's No. 2, Is Questioned". Wall Street Journal. March 24, 2015. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  3. "MEET THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL". Archived from the original on July 13, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "J. Kelley Quillian, 1966–1984 Chief Judge: 1981–1982". Georgia Court of Appeals. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  5. "Xara QUILLIAN Obituary". Legacy.
  6. Skinner, Winston (February 1, 2017). "Ousted AG has ties to local area". Times Herald.
  7. Clifford, Catherine (January 31, 2017). "How Sally Yates' life and career formed the principles that just got her fired". CNBC. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  8. Bill, David (December 23, 2014). "UGA law graduate Sally Yates nominated for U.S. deputy attorney general". UGA Today.
  9. Watkins, Eli (January 30, 2017). "Who is Sally Yates?". CNN. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  10. "Letter From Sally Yates" (PDF). The New York Times. January 30, 2017. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  11. "Trump's Talk About Muslims Led Acting Attorney General to Defy Ban". New York Times. January 31, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.

Other websites[change | change source]

Legal offices
Preceded by
William S. Duffey Jr.
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia

Succeeded by
David Nahmias
Preceded by
David Nahmias
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia
Succeeded by
John A. Horn
Preceded by
James Cole
United States Deputy Attorney General
Succeeded by
Rod J. Rosenstein
Preceded by
Loretta Lynch
United States Attorney General

Succeeded by
Dana Boente