Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced on Tuesday night during the Senate debate over the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General after she quoted a letter written by the late Coretta Scott King in which King spoke out against Sessions' character, the Washington Post and other outlets reported.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said that Warren had "impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama," referring to Sessions; the Republican-held Senate then voted 49 to 43 to uphold the objection that she had breached the rules of debate.
The letter in question, first published publicly by the Washington Post last month, was written by Martin Luther King's widow to Senator Strom Thurmond in 1986, when Sessions was nominated to serve as a federal judge.
King was writing the letter to "express [her] sincere opposition" to the confirmation of Sessions, who, she wrote, had "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."
The full text of that letter is below:
Dear Senator Thurmond:
I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting. 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. 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.
I regret that a long-standing commitment prevents me from appearing in person to testify against this nominee. However, I have attached a copy of my statement opposing Mr. Sessions’ confirmation and I request that my statement as well as this be made a part of the hearing record.
I do sincerely urge you to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Sessions.
Coretta Scott King