Last night Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was voted (along straight party line 49-to-43) in violation of Rule 19. “Rule 19” is an arcane Senate rule that prohibits “directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy of unbecoming a senator.” Warren was attempting to read a letter, already in the senate record from Sessions’ 1986 hearing, from Coretta Scott King about Sessions’ opposition to voting rights for African Americans. (UPDATE: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) read the same letter today without being in violation of any senate rules today.)
After cursory research, it is difficult to ascertain how frequently this rule is invoked in the chamber, but if cabinet nominees can avoid criticism purely because they are sitting senators a dangerous precedent has been set. Reading part of the existing record is enough to silence the opposition party??
Here is a clip of the interaction between Warren and McConnell:
Sessions is very close to becoming our Attorney General, please call your senators today to make sure your voices are heard before their cast their votes. Tell them you support their resistance and that you appreciate Liz’s (Warren) stand for justice. #LetLizSpeak
Read Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter below: