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On Tuesday night, as the Senate was debating the confirmation of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts stood and began to read a letter that Coretta Scott King — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow — wrote to the Senate back in 1986, opposing Sessions’s then-nomination to the federal judiciary.
What happened next was astounding and appalling. Instead of listening respectfully to Sen. Warren reading the words of a civil-rights icon, Sen. Steve Daines of Montana told her to “take her seat” — and then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate GOP censored her from speaking on the Senate floor for the remainder of the debate.
Let that sink in: Senate Republicans silenced a woman for daring to speak out against the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. In fact, they silenced multiple women, as Sen. Warren was banned from speaking not only for her own words, but for reading the words of Coretta Scott King.
Like Coretta Scott King, Elizabeth Warren refused to be silent on Jeff Sessions’s past — a past that makes him uniquely unqualified for the position of Attorney General. Instead, she continued to speak on behalf of millions of Americans, calling out Sessions’ sordid and shameful history of assailing the voting rights of African-Americans in particular.
What happened in the Senate on Tuesday night was wrong — and when the GOP-led Senate confirms Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General, as they’re expected to do shortly, every American’s basic civil and human rights could be negatively impacted by Donald Trump’s deplorable choice. This nomination threatens to turn back the clock on all the progress we’ve made as a country to protect every American’s right to make their voice heard at the ballot box, equally and fairly.
Sen. Warren refused to “take her seat.” She stood right outside the Senate chamber and read Coretta Scott King’s letter on Facebook Live, for all the world to hear. And ironically, the Senate Republicans’ efforts to silence her have only amplified the voices and message of these women.
So in the spirit of Sen. Warren and Coretta Scott King, let this message go out loud and clear, to the men of the Senate and to anyone else who thinks they can shut women up: We will not be silenced.
We refuse to shut up while an opponent of voting rights is elevated to a position where he would be responsible for safeguarding them. We will not sit down while this administration attacks our reproductive rights, our health care, or our right to equal pay. We will stand up, we will speak out, we will march, and we will vote.
And when we do, those who have tried so hard to silence us might just find themselves on the outside of the Capitol looking in.