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10 Brave Women Defending Human Rights in the US

President Donald Trump’s first week in office has a been a furious cascade of executive action, his jagged signature penned onto fourteen directives and orders, and his Twitter account filled with bitter and biting commentary on policies that Global Citizen believes are unreflective of the basic values of American democracy.

But his policies are not going unopposed. Men and women across the political spectrum are standing up to Trump's executive orders and defending core American values.

TAKE ACTION: Reverse President Trump’s Executive Order to Ban Refugees

Women, in particular, are defying the president's recent actions and upholding the constitution. Starting with the historic women’s march the day after Trump’s inauguration, women throughout government have been challenging Trump’s actions.

Trump has approved one of the most xenophobic executive orders in the 21st century; tried to erase climate change from government websites; nominated people with no meaningful experience to key cabinet positions; and antagonized key American allies.

Here are 10 high-ranking women in government who are standing up to Trump's orders (there are countless other women standing up as well):   


The Four Judges Who Blocked Trump’s Muslim and Refugee Ban

After Trump enacted a ban on Muslims from seven countries and all refugees, chaos ensued at airports around the world. Legal residents and travelers were detained, harassed, and in some cases deported. It potentially violated the constitution’s guarantee of due process that Judge Ann Donnell from the Eastern District of New York immediately intervened and ruled that immigrants could not be detained.

This was followed by Judge Leonia Brinkema from the Eastern District Virginia who ordered that 63 people detained in Washington be given access to a lawyer and that nobody could be removed from the country.

Read more: Massive Protests Erupt at Airports After Trump's Refugee Executive Order

Then two federal judges in Boston, Judge Allison Burroughs and Magistrate Judge Judith Dein, put a freeze on the executive order for seven days.  

All four judges recognized that the executive order is potentially illegal. Their swift action showed the president that there would be considerable resistance to its full implementation.


Elizabeth Warren

Warren has been one of Trump’s biggest foes in government. Throughout the presidential campaign, she argued that he was utterly unqualified for office and attacked his policy views.

During the vetting process for Trump’s cabinet nominees, Warren has been one of the loudest critics, arguing against their qualifications and conflicts of interest.

Read More: With Pick of Betsy DeVos, Does Donald Trump Want to Kill Public Schools?

“It’s no secret that I have deep reservations about the policy views of many of these nominees," she wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post."I will vote against some of them.”

She was particularly critical of Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Education, Betsy Devos, and the Treasury pick, Steven Mnuchin.  

"As Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos would be in charge of running a $1 trillion student loan bank,” Warren wrote. “She has no experience doing that. In fact, Betsy DeVos has no experience with student loans, Pell Grants, or public education at all…If Betsy DeVos can't commit to using the Department of Education's many tools and resources to protect students from fraud, I don't see how she can be the Secretary of Education."


Sally Yates

A holdover from the Obama administration, Yates has been leading the Justice Department until Trump gets a nomination for Attorney General approved.

When Yates began receiving legal challenges to Trump’s Muslim and refugee ban, she refused to defend the executive order on the grounds that it was indefensible. For this, she was fired.

"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 a letter. "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."


Kirsten Gillibrand

The junior senator from New York, Gillibrand has been unstinting in her defiance of Trump. She has voted against every one of his cabinet nominees except the ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.

Read More: 12 Female Activists You Didn’t Know Are Changing the World

A fierce advocate for women’s rights, Gillibrand has introduced measures that would stop efforts to strip women of vital health care.

“We should never go back to the days when insurance companies could tell breast cancer survivors to get lost, because they thought cancer survivors would hurt their bottom lines,” she said on the Senate floor. “We should never go back to the days when insurance companies could make women, and only women, pay more for their health insurance, just because of their gender. We should not turn back the clock on women’s health.”


Kamala Harris and Patty Murray

Junior senator from California, Kamala Harris, and junior senator from Washington, Patty Murray, have been vocal critics of Trump throughout his rise to power, attending and leading rallies, and boldly standing up for women’s rights.

On Monday, they penned a scathing letter with a team of other senators to the ban on Muslims and refugees from entering the country, calling the executive order "fundamentally un-American, discriminatory and an unconscionable violation of our values."