Sen. Kennedy to Sally Yates: “Who appointed you to the United States Supreme Court?”

Standing in the chamber. (10825737303)

Sen. John Neely Kennedy asks Sally Yates Who appointed you to the United States Supreme Court?”

At today’s hearing on Russian Interference  one senator took the opportunity to question the former attorney general, Sally Yates. Senator Neely John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) asked former acting Attorney General Sally Yates why she refused to defend Trump’s initial executive order barring travel from several Mideast nations.

The line of questioning Sen. Kennedy asked to Sally Yates was quite pointed and to the point, which was met with praise by many on twitter.

 

Transcript provided below:

KENNEDY: And you believe there was no — you believe that no reasonable argument could be made in its defense, is that correct?

[…] Link to Full Transcript

KENNEDY: OK. Suppose instead of an executive order, this had been an act of Congress. Would you have refused to defend it?

YATES: If it were the same act, yes. And in fact, the Department of Justice has done that in the past. For example, with DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, when the Department of Justice refused to defend DOMA.

KENNEDY: But that was a political decision, was it not?

YATES: Well, I wasn’t at main justice at that time, so I can’t speak to that. But that was another example of when DOJ did not defend the constitutionality of a statute in that sense.

KENNEDY: OK. But in your opinion, the executive order is unconstitutional.

YATES: I certainly was not convinced that it was constitutional, and given that I wasn’t in the import of this, I couldn’t in good conscience send Department of Justice lawyers in to defend it.

KENNEDY: Well, I want to be sure I understand. Do you believe it’s constitutional or unconstitutional?

YATES: I believed — I was not convinced that it was constitutional. I believed that it was unconstitutional in the sense that 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.

KENNEDY: So you believe it’s unconstitutional?

YATES: Yes.

KENNEDY: OK. I don’t mean to wax two (ph)…

YATES: And if I can say, I can understand why might be a little frustrated with the language here…

KENNEDY: I’m not frustrated. I’m happy as a clown.

YATES: And here’s – here’s the reason. Let me give you a little idea of the timing of this.

KENNEDY: Let me stop you because I don’t have much time. I’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

YATES: OK.

KENNEDY: I don’t mean to wax too (ph) metaphysical here, but at what point does an act of Congress or an executive order become unconstitutional?

YATES: Well, it all depends on what the act does.

KENNEDY: No, but I mean, at what point — is it become — I can look at a statute and say I think that’s unconstitutional. Does that make it unconstitutional?

YATES: I think the issue that we faced at the Department of Justice is to defend this executive order would require lawyers to go in and argue that this has nothing to do with religion, something that…

KENNEDY: But at what point does a statute or an executive order become unconstitutional? Is it some apriori (ph) determination? It become — Who appointed you to the United States Supreme Court?