Former acting U.S. attorney general Sally Yates was fired by President Donald Trump in late January after refusing to defend his travel ban—the second iteration of which an appeals court refused to reinstate yesterday.
Yates has had nearly four full months to reflect on her termination, which catapulted the career prosecutor into the role of liberal darling in a matter of minutes. She shared what she’s learned from the experience with graduates of Harvard Law School on Wednesday.
She said determining her response to Trump’s travel ban forced her to decide who she was and what she stood for.
“I was in the car on the way to the airport late in the afternoon on Friday, January 27 when I learned from media reports that the president had signed an executive order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries,” she recalled. “It was the first we’d heard of it, but we knew we’d need Department of Justice lawyers in courts all over the country defending it within a matter of hours.”
She soon learned that the DOJ would have to take a position on the constitutionality of the order, and she concluded that defending the ban would require arguing that it had nothing to do with religion despite prior statements by the president and his surrogates about his intent to effectuate a Muslim ban. She couldn’t come to terms with such a “pretext” so she directed the DOJ to not defend the ban, which led to her immediate firing.
It was an “unexpected moment,” she said, when law and conscience intersected and demanded that she make a decision. She said her 27 years at the DOJ and input from mentors and colleagues shaped how she responded.
She assured the graduates that they’d find themselves in similar situations. Their experience might not be as public as her own, but the internal conflict would be no less agonizing. She advised graduates to prepare for those moments by allowing for introspection to determine what it is they value, because—as she put it—”you never know when you’re going to be called to answer that question.”
|A study in contrasts|
|German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with two U.S. presidents yesterday. First, she joined former president Barack Obama onstage to help celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation in an appearance the Financial Times called a “love-in.” Obama praised Merkel’s “outstanding work, not just here but around the world,” particularly with refugees. Hours later, Merkel was among the NATO leaders to greet Trump coolly in Brussels, where the U.S. president once again castigated allies for not paying their fair share of bills.|
|New York Times|
|Beale on Brexit|
|Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd’s, says her company is setting up a subsidiary in Brussels ahead of Brexit to secure continuous insurance coverage for its clients on the continent. She says the fallout of the Brexit vote distracted the insurer from considering new markets and pursuing innovation. “Now that we’ve announced what we’re going to do we can bring those resources back to the new stuff again,” she says.|
|The royal treatment|
|Queen Elizabeth visited the Royal Manchester children’s hospital yesterday to meet young victims of Monday’s terrorist attack and the staff members who treated them. The monarch called the attack “very wicked” and said, “the awful thing was that everyone was so young.” She also struck a positive note, congratulating clinicians, doctors, nurses, and porters on “coming together” in the face of tragedy.|
|Body of work|
|Nancy Green, CEO of The Gap’s athletic apparel brand Athleta, talked to Fast Company about the company’s “Power of She” campaign aimed at breaking stereotypes of health and wellness that recently included an ad featuring a 98-year-old yoga teacher. “Women are not portrayed well in the fashion media,” Green says. “It causes serious body dysmorphia, psychological problems. I believe we can be a force for good in the world in changing that.”|
|The wrong fix|
|In April, Yale Law School student Alexandra Brodsky published an article in the Columbia Journal of Law & Gender about a disturbing trend of nonconsensual condom removal that became known as “stealthing.” The article went viral. In response, lawmakers in two states proposed criminal laws banning the act, but Brodsky is frustrated by that approach to fixing the problem since it lets prosecutors—not victims—decide whether to pursue criminal charges.|
|Padmasree Warrior, who heads the U.S. arm of Chinese electric carmaker NextEV, is one of four executives joining the board of Spotify ahead of the music streaming service’s likely IPO this year. Fortune dubbed Warrior the “Queen of The Electric Car Biz” in 2015 when she rerouted her career of working for global giants like Motorola and Cisco to join NextEV, a startup that’s building an electric car to compete with Tesla.|
|The Japanese monarch’s dearth of male heirs may force the nation to consider allowing women to inherit the throne. The Economist reports that such a change almost happened nearly a dozen years ago when the male line of succession was going to last only one more generation. Prince Hisahito, now 10, came to the rescue, but the royal family continues to face a male heir crisis.|
|Shumayala Javed abandoned her career as a champion netballer when she married her husband. “It was not a small thing, you know, for a Muslim girl from a poor family, to play at that level,” she says. Javed claims her husband later divorced her because she gave birth to a daughter, rather than a son. Her case has drawn further attention to the practice of “talaq” which allows Muslim men to leave their wives by simply saying the word “talaq,” or divorce, three times. India’s supreme court is currently considering whether the practice is constitutional.|
|Books to read now: the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist|
|The women saving Somalia’s animals from drought|
|The woman fired during her maternity leave|
|New York Magazine|
|Meet Cara Adams, the only female chief engineer at the Indy 500|
|Why 7.5 million Brits can’t vote for a woman|