During tonight’s debate on the Senate floor over the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to the role of United States Attorney General, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was forced to cut her speech short. The reason for her silencing: Warren read an eight-page letter, written in 1986 by Coretta Scott King, that condemned the Alabama lawmaker for his efforts to prevent black voting rights.
Among the passages Warren read were this: “Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts.” The letter accuses Sessions of using “the awesome power of his office to chill the pre-exercise of the vote by black citizens.”
The letter was initially written by King 30 years ago when Sessions was nominated to the district courts.
During her speech, The New York Times reports, “[s]ensing a stirring beside her, Ms. Warren suddenly stopped herself and scanned the chamber,” to find that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had stepped forward to object to Warren’s speech.
McConnell was then able to procedurally silence Warren for “[inpugning] the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama.”
McConnell then called the Senate to order, citing Rule XIX, which disallows debating senators from ascribing “to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.” Of course, as USA Today points out, citing reports from the Boston Globe and The Associated Press, more incriminating statements have been made by Senators in the past.
Senators on the floor then voted 49-43, along party lines, that Warren violated the rule, forcing Warren into silence on the Senate floor until Sessions’ nomination is complete.
Within hours, Warren read the letter from Mrs. King aloud on Facebook Live, and you can read it in full below. We will not be silenced, and neither will Coretta Scott King.