Sen. Elizabeth Warren Just Made a Big Stand Against Jeff Sessions on the Senate Floor

February 8th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Republicans voted to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor Tuesday, but not before the Massachusetts Democrat gave a scathing speech about President Donald Trump's pick for U.S. Attorney General.


Warren, who criticized attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions' civil rights record at length, was forced to sit after quoting blistering statements from deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and a letter from civil rights icon Coretta Scott King. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican leaders said that Warren broke a Senate rule by quoting Kennedy and King because it contained speech that impugned a fellow senator. Senate Rule 19 says that "no Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator."

Warren outlined the various criticisms of the Republican senator from Alabama's civil rights record and called some of his past comments "racist."

"He has made derogatory and racist comments that should have no place in our justice system," she said. Sessions has been accused of joking about the KKK, agreeing that a white civil rights attorney was a disgrace to his race, and calling the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference "un-American."

Jeff Sessions

Later in her speech, Warren used letters from Kennedy and King to bring up the infamous 1985 Perry County case, which the NAACP Legal Defense fund is also referencing in its campaign against Sessions.

When Sessions was a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, he brought voter fraud charges against three black civil rights activists for registering elderly black people to vote. Sessions claimed that the activists Albert and Evelyn Turner and Spencer Hogue had fraudulently filled out absentee ballots. The judge in the case made statements that the charges went against the Constitution and election law, and the jury acquitted the three activist of all charges, according to The New York Times.

Coretta Scott King

In 1986, Sessions was unsuccessfully considered for a federal judge position, and both Kennedy and King opposed his nomination in part because of this case.

Coretta Scott King Letter opposing Jeff Sessions' federal nomination by aboynamedart on Scribd

“Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters," read King's letter. "For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”

Sen. Ted Kennedy

Kennedy testified that the Perry case alone should completely disqualify Sessions from being a federal judge.

"All three of the defendants were acquitted of all charges in the indictments, and some of the elderly blacks responded to their experiences during the prosecution by vowing never to vote again," he said. "Mr. Sessions' role in that case alone should bar him from serving on the federal bench."

RELATED: Black Democrats Just Dismantled Jeff Sessions' Defense Against Being Called Racist