Aspen Ideas Festival: 'Examining the Rule of Law'

Geoffrey Stone, Neal Katyal, and Sally Yates at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Geoffrey Stone, Neal Katyal, and Sally Yates at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Dan Bayer | The Aspen Institute

Former Attorney General Sally Yates found out about President Trump's original travel ban in the car on the way to the airport.

She got this call from a staffer: "You're not going to believe this ... it looks like the president issued a travel ban."

Yates recounted this story for Supreme Court lawyer Neal Katyal and law professor Geoffrey Stone. They sat on a panel during the Aspen Ideas Festival. The panel was titled "Examining the Rule of Law."

"[I spent the weekend] trying to figure out what the heck is this thing and to who does it apply," Yates said.

After multiple meetings with her team and White House staff, Yates realized she couldn't defend the ban in court.

"Defending this ban would require me to send lawyers ... into court and say it had nothing to do with religion," Yates said.

She didn't think that was true.

Katyal is representing Hawaii in litigation against the president's second travel ban.

They discussed that, and other issues facing a society built on laws that quickly become politicized.

To hear the full conversation, use the audio player above.

More from Aspen Ideas Festival

Listening to America

What you need to know about Martin Luther King

Conservatism in the Trump era

American values and the Constitution

Spotlight on health

More from MPR News Presents

MPR News presents offers speeches, documentaries and debates — airing weekdays from noon to 1 p.m.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.