On Tuesday night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren attempted to read a letter that was written by Coretta Scott King back in 1986 during a debate about Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general. King wrote the letter to Sen. Strom Thurmond while opposing Sessions' attempted confirmation for a federal judgeship more than 30 years ago and said that Sessions had "used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters" in it.
But Warren was unable to finish reading the letter about Sessions before her fellow Senators because Majority Leader Mitch McConnell objected to the speech and, along with other Republicans, he claimed Warren violated Senate rules by trying to read the letter. The specific rule he cited says Senators cannot "directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator."
McConnell then called for a vote to determine whether or not Warren should be permitted to continue reading King’s letter, and the Senate voted 49-43 to bar Warren from speaking during the remainder of the debate on Sessions. McConnell later told NBC News that Warren had been warned about violating Senate rules in the past.
"She had been warned multiple times," he said. "And after additional warning today, she was found in violation of the rule. She appealed the ruling and lost."
Many of Warren’s fellow Democrats responded by speaking up on her behalf, and a #LetLizSpeak hashtag started on social media:
Warren herself took to Twitter to explain what happened and to say that she will "not be silenced" in her efforts to voice her concerns over Sessions becoming AG:
Warren and other Democrats also pushed for people to read King’s letter on their own since she was not allowed to read it for them in the Senate. You can read the letter, which was posted by the Washington Post, here:
Dear Senator Thurmond:
I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting. 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. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.
I regret that a long-standing commitment prevents me from appearing in person to testify against this nominee. However, I have attached a copy of my statement opposing Mr. Sessions' confirmation and I request that my statement as well as this letter be made a part of the hearing record.
I do sincerely urge you to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Sessions.
Coretta Scott King
An official vote on Sessions’ nomination as attorney general is expected to take place on Wednesday.