Republicans Silence Elizabeth Warren for Reading Letter by Coretta Scott King
Sen. Warren was formally silenced after reading a powerful statement that opposed the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal judge position back in 1986.
Published on February 8, 2017

On Tuesday night, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took the Senate floor to read the words of Coretta Scott King, the widow of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The letter, written back in 1986, criticized Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for his civil rights record, ultimately helping to derail his nomination to a federal district court seat under the Ronald Reagan administration.

Now, three decades after being deemed unfit for the federal court position, Sessions is on the brink of becoming the US attorney general. In an attempt to stop Sessions from passing through the upcoming confirmation vote, Warren stepped onto the Senate floor to read Scott King’s letter aloud to her colleagues. 

The letter clearly rubbed Senate Republicans the wrong way, as it caused them to invoke a rule to formally silence Warren for the remainder of the committee hearing. Warren was originally warned about “impugning” Sessions by Montana Sen. Steve Daines (R) about 20 minutes into her speech. Soon after, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stepped in to invoke “Rule 19”, which “forbids an especially corrosive form of verbal combat”.

McConnell shunned Warren while she was addressing Sessions' vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. He cited the letter’s statement that Sessions used “the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens” as proof that Warren was “impugning” the Alabama Senator. Backed by a GOP-controlled Senate, the objection was passed through a majority vote and Warren was effectively silenced. 

But the attempt to downplay impactful letter seems to have backfired on the Republican Senate. After Warren was forbidden from speaking about Sessions on the Senate floor, she turned to social media to read the letter. Now, instead of having the debate confined to the Senate, Scott King’s powerful statement has now made rounds across the country. 

Of all the swampy appointments that Donald Trump has nominated to his cabinet, none poses a greater threat to the cannabis industry than Sen. Sessions. Aside from his questionable past with civil rights, Sessions is also staunch opponent of cannabis, and could potentially wreak havoc on the progress that the marijuana industry has made over the past few years.  

The Senate is expected to hold the confirmation vote on Sessions Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, with the way things played out in yesterday’s confirmation of the highly controversial secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos, the Senate Democrats just don’t seem to have enough firepower to stop the Republican crazy train.  

Tyler Koslow
Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.
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