Feb. 1st, 2017

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Continuing the discussion I started with my last entry on the actions and firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

Ken White (Popehat)'s take is here: Desperation For A Hero. He seems to be coming to some of the things I've been thinking through.

Crucially, though, he points out that her decision not to follow the order was based on her belief not that it was unconstitutional, but that it was "unjust and unwise." I think those things are less debatable than its (un)constitutionality but also they are much worse grounds for a government official to stand on.

She has an obligation to refuse to do unlawful things, but she has no right to refuse to follow orders because she disagrees with the policy behind them. She publicly asserted that the order might be unconstitutional, but didn't explain how or suggest a method or schedule to resolve the question. She didn't use clarity to promote and defend the rule of law. She was right to stand up for justice, but wrong to confuse and obscure the role of the Attorney General.

And he comes to the same conclusion as I had - that we need heroes who don't just stand up for what's right, but who stand up for the rule of law and the necessity of all officials to abide by it.

Ms Yates is a hero for taking a stand against injustice and prejudice. I'd cheerfully buy her a drink of her choice, given the option. But we have to acknowledge that acts of defiance occur within a context and if we open the door for our enemies to behave badly we may end up doing more harm than good.


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