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Wednesday, February 08, 2017


The little ladies will sit down and shut up

by Tom Sullivan

Break out the pink pussyhats. It seems the voices of both Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the late Coretta Scott King are unwelcome in the Senate old boys' club. The Senate last night voted to silence Warren for reading a 1986 letter from King criticizing Jeff Sessions' civil rights record. CNN:

The rebuke of Warren came after the Massachusetts Democrat read a letter written 30 years ago by Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship.

Warren cited the letter during a debate on the nomination of Sessions -- now an Alabama senator -- as Donald Trump's attorney general. Reading from King's letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986, Warren said: "Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge."
Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell raised an objection, saying, "The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair.” A violation, he asserted, of Rule XIX:
2. No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.
The New York Times account continues:
When Mr. McConnell concluded, Ms. Warren said she was “surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.” She asked to continue her remarks.

Mr. McConnell objected.

“Objection is heard,” said Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, who was presiding in the chamber at the time. “The senator will take her seat.”
Warren was forbidden on a party line vote from further participation in the floor debate ahead of the Sessions confirmation vote expected today. Warren did not, but an appropriate rejoinder might have been, "Go ahead. Make my day."

CNN notes how the move may backfire on the GOP:
"She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said on the Senate floor.

The line was an instant classic -- the kind liberals imagine being replayed ad nauseum in TV ads in a future presidential campaign.
Warren stepped outside to record the letter for a Facebook video:

McConnell's objection meant millions more will hear the reading of the King letter. As of this moment, it has over 3.6 million views, 275k shares, and 54k comments.

I note, in particular, King's several references to Sessions' participation in 1984 voter fraud prosecutions of the use of absentee voting by blacks:
The actions taken by Mr. Sessions in regard to the 1984 voting fraud prosecutions represent just one more technique used to intimidate black voters and thus deny them this most precious franchise. The investigations into the absentee voting process were conducted only in the black belt counties where blacks had finally achieved political power in local government. Whites had been using the absentee process to their advantage for years, without incident. Then, when blacks, realizing its strength, began to use it with success, criminal investigations were begun.

In these investigations, Mr. Sessions, a US Attorney, exhibited an eagerness to bring to trial and convict three leaders of the Perry County Civic League including Albert Turner, despite evidence clearly demonstrating their innocence of any wrongdoing. Furthermore, in initiating the case, Mr. Sessions ignored allegations of similar behavior by whites, choosing instead to chill the exercise of the franchise by blacks in his misguided investigation. In fact, Mr. Sessions sought to punish older black civil rights activists, advisers and colleagues of my husband, who had been key figures in the civil rights movement in the 1960's. These were persons who, realizing the potential of the absentee vote among blacks, had learned to use the process within the bounds of legality and had taught others to do the same. The only sin they committed was being too successful in gaining votes.
Republicans were crying voter fraud before Fox News, Drudge, and Breitbart made crying voter fraud "cool." If you need some amusing reading to take the edge off this morning, check out these excerpts from the 2012 decision against the RNC by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The RNC's voter fraud arguments were bogus in 2012. They are bogus now. And they were bogus when Jeff Sessions was pursuing black people for voting in 1984.

UPDATE: Then Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley reads the King letter "uninterrupted" by the “old boys.” #ShePersisted