Senate Showdown Over Jeff Sessions: Elizabeth Warren Ordered to Keep Quiet After Quoting Coretta Scott King

Photo: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell interrupted a speech Sen. Elizabeth Warren attempted to give in opposition to the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general Tuesday night after Warren began reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King.

The letter was written by the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1986, when Sessions was under consideration for a federal judgeship.

“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,” King’s letter begins.

Her letter continues, describing her reason for opposition: “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.”

It was that portion of King’s letter that McConnell cited as being over the line for the senate floor. Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican presiding over the senate, agreed with McConnell and forced Warren to sit down.

“I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate,” Warren said.

While a vote was held on Warren’s appeal to continue speaking, the Republicans refused, voting against another opportunity. Under senate rules, Warren is prohibited from speaking during the remaining hours of the Sessions debate.

Warren’s speech was part of an effort by Democrats to hold the Senate floor for 24 hours in protest of Sessions’ nomination, as they did Monday night ahead of Betsy DeVos confirmation as education secretary.

The Senate will vote on Sessions’ confirmation on Wednesday.

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