On the same day Senate Republicans voted to appoint the supremely unqualified Betsy DeVos as Trump’s education secretary—in defiance of the thousands of constituents who voiced opposition—they also voted to formally silence Elizabeth Warren. Senator Warren had been reading Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter condemning Jeff Sessions’s disgraceful civil rights record when majority leader Mitch McConnell objected, igniting an unprecedented standoff on the Senate floor.
“The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair,” said McConnell in reference to King’s letter, which outlined tactics Sessions used to intimidate black voters as a U.S. attorney. Invoking Rule XIX, which essentially enforces politeness on the Senate floor, McConnell called on other GOP senators to back him up in silencing Warren. In response, Warren said she was “surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.” Despite her plea to continue reading the letter, senators voted along party lines (49 to 43) to force Warren to take her seat.
So, just to reiterate, Republican Senators refused to allow their Democratic colleague to read the very relevant words of a legendary civil rights activist. As expected, Senator Warren’s supporters and fellow Democrats would not be dismissed without a fight. Right away, Democrats took to social media, using the hashtag “#LetLizSpeak” to pressure Republicans into rethinking their stance.
A few hours after being dismissed, Warren continued reading King’s letter on Facebook Live, generating more than 7 million views (and counting) in the process. Clearly, McConnell’s plan to silence Warren backfired spectacularly, as her reading would never have reached such an enormous audience had she been allowed to continue on the Senate floor. McConnell also gifted her supporters a perfect rallying cry, saying of Senator Warren, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
To hear her read Coretta Scott King’s timely words and add to the growing numbers who support her, check out the Facebook video below: