Yesterday Senator Elizabeth Warren, as part of her job, went to the floor of the United States Senate to debate whether Jeff Sessions should be confirmed as the US Attorney General. She quoted from Senator Ted Kennedy’s statement made in the Judiciary Committee from 1986 when Senator Sessions was being considered to be a federal judge. Sessions was ultimately blocked from a federal judgeship. Senator Sessions back then was a United States Attorney who had brought a prosecution against civil rights workers for helping elderly black citizens vote. After reading Senators Kennedy’s statement, Senator Elizabeth Warren began to read from a letter written by Coretta Scott King to the US Senate. She wrote the following about Jeff Sessions – “US Attorney Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens”. At that point Mitch McConnell accused Warren of impugning Sessions on the Senate floor — a violation of Senate rule 19 and she was forced to sit down and stop debating. She was shut up and not permitted to speak on the senate floor until after the vote on Mr. Session’s appointment.
Later that day Senator Elizabeth Warren stepped outside the room and read from the letter Coretta Scott King wrote which stated: “Jeff Sessions accomplished with a federal prosecution what the local sheriff’s accomplished 20 years ago with clubs and cattle prods…many elderly blacks were visited multiple times by the FBI who then hauled them over 180 miles by buss to a grand jury in Mobile when they could more easily have testified at a grand jury 20 miles away in Selma”. Senator Warren said, “ Those are actions. Those are facts” and “The conclusion Coretta Scott King drew was based on his record”. Correta Scott King wrote, “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect not only on the Judicial system in Alabama but on the progress we have made everywhere towards fulfilling my husbands dreams that he envisioned over 20 years ago”. Senator Warren said “the letter is an important 1986 document that moved a Republican controlled senate to say no to confirming him as a federal court judge”.
Later the same day some Senate democrats read from the same letter Senator Elizabeth Warren read from and they submitted it for the record and they were not cited by Rule 19
Jeff Sessions is now being considered for U.S. Attorney General. How are you suppose to criticize him? Is this selective enforcement of Rule 19?
Senator Elizabeth Warren states there are 2 questions:
1) Can the Attorney General be trusted to stand up strongly on behalf of everyone, not just those he agrees with but everyone.
2) Does he have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the President of the United States
when the President orders an illegal and unconstitutional order?
What Correta Scott King said is directly relevant to the first of these questions.
Elizabeth Warren added "It is a powerful and moving letter, and it speaks to a moment in history in the 1960s, a moment in history in the 1980s, and a moment in history right now in 2017”.