She was quoting Senator Ted Kennedy, who called Sessions a ‘disgrace’ during the 1986 confirmation hearings for Sessions to become a federal judge. But regardless of whether or not the criticism originated with Senator Elizabeth Warren or from someone else, according to Mitch McConnell, it violated one of the Senate rules. Specifically this one from Rule XIX:
2. 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.
Quoting Senator Kennedy, Warren said, “He is, I believe, a disgrace to the justice department and he should withdraw his nomination and withdraw from the Justice Department… Like he did, I will cast my nomination against the vote of Sen. Sessions.”
She also read from Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter urging senators to vote against Sessions, but Warren’s violation had nothing to do with that letter.
The Presiding Officer Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) even said when he stopped Warren that it had nothing to do with what she was reading at that moment – which was Coretta Scott King’s letter. He said specifically that her violation occurred when she called Sessions a ‘disgrace.’ And it didn’t matter that she was only quoting someone else.
But Democrats are trying to make this about “silencing” Coretta Scott King, and therefore, it’s about “raaacccisssmmm.”
I would agree that the rule is silly. Or at least that the rule is not enforced consistently at all. The likely motive behind enforcing it now is that it was a way of getting the confirmation process to move on.
The Democrats are stalling and using whatever means they have to block Trump’s appointments. This is their “resistance strategy.” If they’re going to do that, then they should expect that the Republicans will pull out the rule book and fight back.
Petty or not, what Warren did was technically a rule violation. When this confirmation process is all said and done, the rule book will be put back on the shelf where it will stay until the next gridlock happens.