Last night, something very troubling happened in America. The President was forced to relieve Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing her duty to defend the administration’s immigration order. The President had no choice. While this is an uncomfortable time for many Americans, he absolutely did the right thing. An attorney general who refuses to defend the law threatens the rule of law for everyone – regardless of political persuasion.
Despite the left’s best attempt to spin this, Yates was wrong. The United States Attorney General, and every state attorney general, has the duty to defend the Constitution, laws passed by the legislative branch, and executive actions—without regard to policy and personal opinions. To do otherwise politicizes the office and threatens the rule of law that is the foundation of democracy.
Consider the facts of this case. The Department of Justice’s experts in the Office of Legal Counsel determined that the President’s order was a lawful exercise of his authority to ensure the safety of all Americans. But Yates had personal doubts that the order was “wise and just,” so she forbade the DOJ from defending the order in court until she was “convinced” that the President’s order was the best policy. But it’s not an Attorney General’s job to cherry-pick their favorite laws to defend or decide the best policy. That is the job of the people, through their elected representatives. If an attorney general believes a client has done something indefensible, they resign. They don’t grandstand. And they don’t attack a client.
Even liberal Alan Dershowitz, who chimed in on CNN, gets it:
I think she’s made a serious mistake here. This is a holdover heroism. It’s so easy to be a heroine when you’re not appointed by this president and when you’re on the other side. She made a serious mistake.”
We have seen this in Virginia repeatedly from Mark Herring. His usurpations cover many areas: right to work, voter ID, marriage, the Second Amendment, and education. That is why I am in this race. The rule of law and government of, by, and for the people requires that those who enforce the law respect the will of the people. We need more people like new Acting Attorney General Dana Boente, a great prosecutor and a good man with whom I have had the privilege of serving as a federal prosecutor, who has promised to “defend and enforce the laws of our country.”
With my background and experience, I know what it’s like to set aside personal opinion and do what the job requires. Throughout my life as a lawyer, whether as an Associate Counsel to the President, a Federal Prosecutor, a law clerk to federal judges, or a partner in a law firm, I have remained faithful to the law and my clients. And as a United States Naval Officer I learned the importance of what it means to uphold one’s duty. As your Attorney General, I will not selectively pick and choose which laws I will defend, because I understand that it’s my duty, as Attorney General, to defend the Constitution and the laws passed by the citizens of Virginia. And it is most certainly not my job to attack those laws when I disagree with them.