On February 7, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) censured Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for reading a letter from civil rights activist Coretta Scott King that breaks down how Jeff Sessions—President Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general—“used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.” McConnell argued that Warren was impugning the motives of a fellow senator, which is technically forbidden by Rule XIX.

 

That silencing was during the pre-vote discussion for Sessions. It quickly prompted the hashtag #LetLizSpeak—and spurred her White, male, Democratic colleagues to read the letter anyway today (February 8).


The full text of the letter appears below.

Dear Senator Thurmond:

I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting. Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts.

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.

I regret that a long-standing commitment prevents me from appearing in person to testify against this nominee. However, I have attached a copy of my statement opposing Mr. Sessions’ confirmation and I request that my statement as well as this letter be made a part of the hearing record.

I do sincerely urge you to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Sessions.

Sincerely,
Coretta Scott King

The hashtag #ShePersisted sprang up this morning to reflect the words McConnell used when he censured Warren to celebrate other women and girls who refused to be silenced.


Watch Senate debate Sessions’ qualifications to lead the Department of Justice live here, via C-Span. The full Senate is expected to vote on his nomination this evening.