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Male Senators Allowed to Read Coretta Scott King Letter


After Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) was silenced on Tuesday during debate on the nomination of Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) for Attorney General for attempting to read a letter critical of Sessions from the widow of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, several male senators were allowed to read the letter Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) invoked a Senate rule that bars Senators from criticizing each other on the floor of the Senate to shut down Warren’s testimony, which included reading from the letter. The 1986 letter was originally addressed to Senator Strom Thurmond and was sharply critical of Sessions, who was the Alabama Attorney General and nominated for a federal judgeship at the time.

“Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office,” King wrote, “to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”

Later Tuesday and Wednesday, however, several male Senators were allowed to read the letter during debate on the Sessions nomination.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) read from the letter Tuesday evening. Senators Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) were all allowed to read from the letter uninterrupted on Wednesday.

Sanders called McConnell’s move to silence Warren “unconscionable” and said McConnell owed Warren an apology.