During the confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee Senator Jeff Sessions last night, Senator Elizabeth Warren was officially rebuked and silenced for the remainder of the hearing.
Speaking in the nearly empty chamber, Warren read from a letter written by the late Coretta Scott King. "Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the bote by black citizens." King wrote this of Sessions when he served as Alabama US attorney.
According to the Washington Post, Warren also read from the 1986 statement of the late Senator Kennedy, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee who led the opposition then against Sessions nomination to attorney general then, including the line, "He is, I believe, a disgrace to the Justice Department and he should withdraw his nomination and resign his position."
In reading these and other quotes unfavorable to Sessions, Warren broke the almost never enforced Rule 19.
Senate Rule 19 states that senators are not allowed to "directly or indirectly, by any form or words impute another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator."
Warren was warned during her lengthy speech that she was violating the rule. Shortly thereafter, Senator Mitch McConnell came to the floor, interrupted her oration, and set the formal rebuke into motion.
The Senate voted strictly down party lines to rebuke and silence Warren. The sanction means she will not be able to speak out in the Senate for the remainder of the confirmation hearing.
In a rebuke of her own, following the motion, Warren went to a nearby room and read the King letter in its entirety, live, on Facebook.
Afterward. Sen. McConnell explained, " Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted."
Sessions is expected to be confirmed sometime today.