U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, Mass.) attempted to read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King in order to debate Jeff Sessions‘s (R, Ala.) confirmation as the Trump administration’s choice for Attorney General.


The letter, written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow in 1986, urged the judiciary committee to reject Sessions, who was at the time an attorney, from becoming a federal judge. Sessions was not confirmed as a judge, and this year was nominated to become Attorney General by President Donald Trump.

Warren wanted to read the letter on the Senate floor as part of her argument that Sessions should not be confirmed. She was stopped by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.), who cited a rule that senators cannot impugn other senators on the Senate floor. The GOP-majority Senate then voted, 49-43, that Warren had spoken out of bounds. As a result, Warren has been silenced for the entirety of the debate regarding Sessions confirmation.

In protest, Warren took to Facebook Live to read her speech. If not on the Senate floor, then at least she can read her speech for the public to hear. “I will not be silent about a nominee for AG who has made derogatory & racist comments that have no place in our justice system,” the senator wrote on Twitter that night.

“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” reads part of the 10-page letter. “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…

“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…

“I do not believe Jefferson Sessions possesses the requisite judgment, competence and sensitivity to the rights guaranteed by the federal civil rights laws to qualify for appointment to the federal district court. Based on his record, I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect not only on the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made everywhere toward fulfilling my husband’s dream that he envisioned over twenty years ago. I therefore urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to deny his confirmation. I thank you for allowing me to share my views.”

Watch the impassioned speech video below.

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