Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to Speak at Law School Class Day

Gavels in the Air
Students from Harvard Law School wave gavels during Commencement on May 28, 2015.
Sally Q. Yates, the former Acting Attorney General of the United States whom President Donald Trump fired in January, will be the Law School’s 2017 Class Day speaker, the school announced Friday.

Yates was appointed Deputy Attorney General—the Justice Department’s second-highest-ranking position—in 2015 under former President Barack Obama's administration. She became the Acting Attorney General after Trump’s inauguration.

Ten days into Trump’s tenure, Yates was fired after she instructed the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s executive order barring immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations. At the time, she said she was unconvinced that the order—which was eventually stopped in court and replaced by another, similar order that has also since been blocked—was legal.

Yates made headlines again in late March when the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration had sought to prevent her from testifying in an ongoing House investigation into connections between Russian and the Trump campaign.

Yates, who attended both college and law school at the University of Georgia, spoke to Law School students in January before Trump took office. The focus of her talk was progress in criminal justice reform under the Obama administration and how she expected it to continue under the Trump administration.


“As current and future leaders in a profession dedicated to the integrity of the law, I hope that you will let your voices be heard and that you will demand meaningful change, and most importantly that you will act at every opportunity to effect the changes that are required to make our communities safer and our system more faithful to its core principle of justice,” Yates said in January.

Members of the Law School’s graduating class are responsible for selecting the Class Day speaker. Last year’s speaker was actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

—Staff writer Jamie D. Halper can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JamieDHalper.