We are less than two weeks into Donald J. Trump’s presidency, and he has already made good on some of his darkest campaign promises. President Trump has signed executive orders advancing an anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, anti-science, anti-woman agenda ― and it’s women who have been among the most visible figures at the forefront of resisting that agenda.
On Monday night, acting Attorney General Sally Yates did what so many (male) figures in the U.S. government have been unwilling to do: push back on a potentially unconstitutional executive order. She was quickly relieved of her duties, but her actions made a powerful statement, hopefully paving the way for more acts of resistance at the federal level.
Here’s a quick rundown of nine of the women who have dedicated their time, power and political capital to upholding the democratic principles on which the United States was founded ― even under Trump:
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates
On Monday, Yates sent a letter to top attorneys at the Department of Justice instructing them not to defend President Trump’s executive order banning immigration from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Syria.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
Within hours, Yates was removed as acting Attorney General by the Trump administration. An official White House statement said that Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice.”
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly
Donelly was the first to rule on a lawsuit filed in opposition to President Trump’s executive order. On Saturday night, during an emergency hearing in Brooklyn, the federal judge granted a temporary nationwide stay ordering the government not to deport immigrants who were being detained at U.S. airports. Read her full order here.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema
Within an hour after Donnelly issued an order from New York, Brinkema issued a ruling in Virginia. The judge issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the deportation of green card holders who were being detained at Dulles International Airport. She also ruled that lawyers must be allowed access to the Dulles detainees.
U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs and Magistrate Judge Judith Dein
Early Sunday morning, Burroughs and Dein issued a seven-day restraining order from Massachusetts blocking the executive order. According to the Boston Globe, “Burroughs found that Trump’s order violated [immigrants’] constitutional rights to due process and equal protection and would cause ‘irreparable harm.’”
The ruling not only prevents the deportation of detainees, but also the detention of approved refugees, as well as visa and green card holders from the seven countries specified in President Trump’s executive order.
Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez
The four co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington have transformed a march into a movement. Not only did millions of people around the world march in solidarity with American women and their allies on Jan. 21, but Mallory, Sarsour, Bland and Perez have kept the momentum the march created going through their 10 Actions, 100 Days campaign.
In addition, Mallory, Sarsour and Perez are all longtime activists who have been on the front lines of fighting for racial justice, and combatting gun violence, mass incarceration and Islamaphobia, for years. Sarsour is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed on Monday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations challenging the constitutionality of President Trump’s travel ban.
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