In in extraordinary moment on the Senate floor last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell silenced Senator Elizabeth Warren under a rarely-used rule that prohibits Senators from speaking ill of other Senators. In this case, the “ill words” being spoken was a letter from Martin Luther King, Jr.s’ widow, Coretta Scott King, written in the 1980s objecting to the nomination of Jeff Session for a position on the federal bench.
Senator McConnell told Warren she could not read a letter from the wife of the greatest civil rights leader in American history because it was mean. McConnell rebuked Warren, prohibiting her from not only reading the letter, but from continuing to participate in the debate on the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.
“I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate,” Warren said after McConnell’s motion.
It makes no sense not to suspend this rule when the Senate is debating the nomination of another Senator for a cabinet position.
That's the key point. Rules against criticizing other Senators cannot apply when you are DEBATING THE NOMINATION OF A SENATOR! https://t.co/mLQqP7z14d— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 8, 2017
“The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama,” McConnell said. The full Senate voted 49-43, along party lines, to uphold McConnell’s objection.
This is incredibly fucked up. Moreso considering that, for instance, Ted Cruz was not rebuked when he openly called Senator McConnell a liar on the Senate floor.
This is unreal. Senate Republicans have ruled that any Democrat that criticizes Sessions' record will be stripped of the right to speak. https://t.co/At5fqUkVWF— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 8, 2017
Afterwards, Senator Warren went ahead and read the letter in the hall of the Senate. Over one million people watched.
Senator Warren reading Coretta King's condemnation of racist Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. In the hall. On Facebook. One million views pic.twitter.com/3qqGCA1e0m— Ray Pride (@RayPride) February 8, 2017
Cory Booker and other Dem Senators also had her back:
The irony, of course, is that this all might have gone unnoticed had McConnell not silenced Warren.
would anyone have noticed Warren;s speech if not for McConnell?— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) February 8, 2017
Coretta Scott King’s letter was blasted all over social media last evening and well into this morning.
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” Mitch McConnell said of Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be quiet. It was that line — “nevertheless, she persisted” — that became a rallying cry on social media.
“[Warren] was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” said @SenateMajLdr, providing a history of feminism.— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) February 8, 2017
"Nevertheless, She Persisted."— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) February 8, 2017
Yeah, that'll fit on the ballcap.
"Nevertheless, she persisted" is all women's history. It's not just Warren who persisted in speaking right, but Coretta Scott King too.— Apocalyptica (@ApocalypticaNow) February 8, 2017
"Nevertheless, she persisted." pic.twitter.com/OFVw2EyWCJ— Sarah Lerner (@SarahLerner) February 8, 2017
"Nevertheless, she persisted."— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 8, 2017
Nice move, Mitch, you grown-up-baby-from-ERASERHEAD-looking urinal cake of a man.
"Nevertheless, she persisted" is the summarized story of each woman in history who made a stand against injustice.#LetLizSpeak— Najwa Tannous (@NTnewsociety) February 8, 2017