Republican senators have formally voted to silence Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren after condemning attorney general nominee and Alabama senator Jeff Sessions.
The admonishment of Warren came after the Massachusetts senator recited a letter written 30 years ago by the late Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship. Read the Coretta Scott King Letter
Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, stepped forward in objection and the Republican party accused Warren of violating Senate rules against impugning another senator.
Via NY Times:
Mr. McConnell called the Senate to order under what is known as Rule XIX, which prohibits debating senators from ascribing “to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.”
When Mr. McConnell concluded, Ms. Warren said she was “surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.” She asked to continue her remarks.
Mr. McConnell objected.
“Objection is heard,” said Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, who was presiding in the chamber at the time. “The senator will take her seat.”
The debate appeared to center, in part, on whether the rule allowed exemptions for quoted remarks — Ms. Warren had been reading directly from the letter from Mrs. King, the widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — to demean a sitting senator.
In a party-line vote, 49 to 43, senators upheld Mr. Daines’s decision, forcing Ms. Warren into silence, at least on the Senate floor, until the showdown over Mr. Sessions’s nomination is complete. He is expected to be confirmed on Wednesday.
By Tuesday night the hashtag #LetLizSpeak was trending on Twitter.
“They can shut me up, but they can’t change the truth,” Warren later told CNN’s Don Lemon.
Warren took to twitter to condemn both Sessions and McConnell:
Not to be denied, Senator Warren went straight from the Senate floor to a call-in appearance on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show. “I’ve been red-carded on Sen. Sessions. I’m out of the game of the Senate floor,” she told Maddow. She also continued reading Coretta Scott King’s letter in a Facebook live video.
Democrats showed displeasure in the Republicans’ decision to silence Warren.
“I never ever saw a time when a member of the Senate asked to put into the record a letter — especially by a civil rights icon — and somebody objected,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.
“Outrageous,” California Sen. Kamala Harris.
“We have to treat each other with respect or this place is going to devolve into a jungle,” Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.