The Coretta Scott King letter opposing Jeff Sessions‘ 1986 nomination as a federal judge was finally read in its entirety in the U.S. Senate, but not by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Instead, it was Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown who got to read it without any opposition.
“It’s a sad day for our democracy when the words of Coretta Scott King are not allowed on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” Brown said before he started reading the letter.
He was referencing the turn of events on the Senate floor on February 7, when Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to let Brown’s fellow Democrat read the letter.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders also read the letter on the Senate floor.
As CNN reports, Warren was stunned when Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who was presiding over the Senate Tuesday night, told her that she was in “violation of Rule 19 of the standing rules of the Senate to impugn another senator or senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.”
When Warren said she didn’t understand what she did wrong, Daines told her, “You stated that a sitting senator is a disgrace to the Department of Justice.”
Twenty minutes later, Warren continued speaking without reading the letter, but McConnell stopped her. She’s now barred from speaking for the rest of the debate over Sessions’ nomination to be Attorney General.
After being barred from reading the full letter on the Senate floor, Warren read the letter in a video posted on her Facebook page.
Brown also spoke against Sessions’ nomination on Tuesday night for about 20 minutes. Brown announced in early January that he will not vote for Sessions to become the head of the Justice Department.
“I have serious concerns that Senator Sessions’ record on civil rights is at direct odds with the task of promoting justice and equality for all, and I cannot support his nomination,” Brown said on February 6.
The Mansfield, Ohio native Brown has been in Congress since 1993, when he was elected to the House. Brown was first elected to the Senate in 2007.
The Complete Text of Coretta Scott King’s Letter
The letter was written by Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow in 1986, when Sessions was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal judge. Sessions’ nomination was not confirmed by the Senate, but Sessions later became a Senator in 1997. Now, the Alabaman is President Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. The letter was addressed to the late Strom Thurmond, who was then Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Here is the complete text of King’s letter:
The Honorable Strom Thurmond, Chairman Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Re: Nomination of Jefferson B. Sessions U.S. Judge, southern/District of Alabama Hearing, March 13, 1986
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 letter be made a part of the hearing record.
I do sincerely urge you to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Sessions.
Coretta Scott King