Nobody expected for Elizabeth Warren to be shut down like that.
The Democratic senator from Massachusetts was arguing Tuesday night against the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general.
When she started reading a letter from Coretta Scott King the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. about how Sessions was unqualified for a federal judgeship back in 1986, she was silenced by Republicans for impugning a fellow senator’s character.
It was a rare move, one that outraged Democrats on social media and silenced Warren for the rest of the debate over Sessions.
And so #LetLizSpeak began trending.
Back when King wrote the letter, Sessions (then an Alabama prosecutor) was accused of making racist comments and criticised for prosecuting a civil rights activist who was registering black voters.
“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,” King wrote.
“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.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted against confirming Sessions as a federal judge. Now, more than 30 years later, the Senate is debating on whether to elevate him to an even more powerful position.
Elizabeth Warren, however, will have to participate from the sidelines.