A few days after President Donald Trump publicly insulted a United States judge for taking a praiseworthy stand against his controversial Muslim immigration ban, the Senate Republicans rudely shut down Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren from reading a letter penned by civil rights activist and the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King.
The incident, which happens to be one of the most unambiguous examples of hypocrisy and quasi-dictatorship in Trump’s America, took place during the Senate confirmation hearing for Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as the U.S. attorney general.
When Warren took the floor to oppose Sessions’ nomination, she brought along the 1986 letter where King wrote, “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.”
It was the perfect case to make against Sessions’ appointment, but the Senate apparently could not bear to hear any of it.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell not only cut off the Democratic senator, he also accused her of violating the Senate Rule XIX that prevents any senator from using “any form of words [to] impute to another senator … any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.”
The rest of the Senate affirmed the decision in a party line 49-43 vote.
The Democrats’ appeal also went down, effectively silencing Warren for the duration of the debate about Sessions.
As outrageous as it was, the Senate Republicans’ efforts to censor the senator backfired spectacularly.
First, McConnell uttered this now-viral line:
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
It won't be surprising if Warren decides to use this as her campaign slogan for the 2020 presidential election.
Second, the hashtag #LetLizSpeak began trending on Twitter, with politicians, celebrities, activists and public shaming the Senate GOP for practically telling a female senator to shut up and be obedient, taking away her right to speak at such a crucial time.
Sessions’ racism has been one of the major concerns with his nomination and this particular incident has just made the trepidation worse.
In 1986, Ronald Reagan nominated him to be a federal district court judge.
However, fellow attorneys, even some friends of his who could not look past his comments on race, challenged the appointment.
"He made remarks that were deeply concerning,” said one.
Sessions called African-American attorney Thomas Figures “boy,” reportedly used the N-word at work and said the white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan was "OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana."
Conversely, Sessions has called civil rights groups like the NAACP “un-American.”
Meanwhile, not one to back down, Warren later went live on Facebook and read King's letter outside the Senate floor for the entire world to see.
“During the debate on whether to make Jeff Sessions the next attorney general, I tried to read a letter from Coretta Scott King on the floor of the Senate,” she wrote on Facebook. “The letter, from 30 years ago, urged the Senate to reject the nomination of Jeff Sessions to a federal judgeship. The Republicans took away my right to read this letter on the floor — so I'm right outside, reading it now.”
I will not be silent about a nominee for AG who has made derogatory & racist comments that have no place in our justice system.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 8, 2017
I will not be silent while the Republicans rubber stamp an AG who will never stand up to the @POTUS when he breaks the law.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 8, 2017
Tonight @SenateMajLdr silenced Mrs King's voice on the Sen floor - & millions who are afraid & appalled by what's happening in our country.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 8, 2017
Social media users did not take long to slam McConnell and Senate Republicans for censoring Warren.
They also called out the blatant display of misogyny and sexism:
Republican men are literally afraid of women. They're not strong enough to lead. #letlizspeak— JEN KIRKMAN (@JenKirkman) February 8, 2017
For those wondering why we call the GOP sexist and misogynistic, this is a perfect example of why.#LetLizSpeak— Emilia???? (@PoliticalEmilia) February 8, 2017
Let us never forget that the white Male Republican Leaders forced a female Senator to sit down and shut up #LetLizspeak— CIndy (@CIndyAbawi) February 8, 2017
Then there were some who still saw the silver lining — and right fully so.
A speech that very few people would have heard is now heard around the world. Thank you. You are now letting #LetLizSpeak to the world— Shelley (@shelley212) February 8, 2017
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters