Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren was silenced during a debate over the nomination of Jeff Sessions to the position of attorney general.
Now, she’s a national hero.
Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell said Warren was in violation of Senate Rule 19, a rule created after a fist fight broke out in the Senate in 1902, which was designed to keep senators from disparaging each other.
The rule is vague and McConnell was convinced Warren broke it when she began to read aloud a letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, Coretta Scott King, years ago in protest of Sessions becoming a federal judge.
The letter rebuked Sessions for his stance on civil rights and technically is simply a piece of public record.
“Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters,” read Warren.
Yes, the letter implies Sessions may not be a qualified pick, however it is not Warren who is demeaning the senator. She is simply reading the letter to the floor and many would question the motive behind refusing to listen to King’s words.
The fact that the rule was even brought to the table highlights the toxic atmosphere rippling throughout the U.S. government.
According to the Associated Press, enforcement of Rule 19 has been extremely rare and the historian’s office couldn’t even recall when it was last used to silence a member of the Senate.
Warren is by no means a meek individual, and has taken radical and sometimes irrational stances in the past. She’s renowned for speaking her mind and debating those who have opinions different from hers.
She is self-serving and tends to make statements simply to launch herself into the limelight. She’s no stranger to the press and has found herself as the main topic of conversation many times in her nearly decade long career.
However, she didn’t overstep her right by reading that letter. McConnell was fed up with having opposition to Sessions and pulled a wild card to stop the protests, banning Warren from speaking until after the vote is underway.
“She was warned, she was given an explanation, nevertheless, she persisted,” McConnell said.
Within moments #ShePersisted began trending online. Warren shared a video of her reading the letter in its entirety on her Facebook — Millions watched.
Republicans could not have given Warren a more effective platform. To silence a woman, especially for reading King’s letter, to ban her from opening her mouth, has enraged millions of Americans.
Republicans may have taken away her voice in the Senate, but they just gave her a microphone straight to the homes of Americans across the country.
And she’s milking every second of the uninterrupted broadcast.
Realistically, Sessions was basically guaranteed to be confirmed as attorney general. No one was surprised when the announcement came Wednesday night of the outcome of the vote.
Republicans were going to get their guy appointed regardless of what was said in the days prior. And if they would have just let Warren talk, she would have finished the letter with little-to-no reaction from the public.
Instead, they chose to forcibly remove her opinion and in doing so, they gave her a direct line to millions in the U.S., making her a champion of the people rather than simply another angry democrat.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.