Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was widely condemned last night after he silenced Senator Elizabeth Warren during a confirmation hearing for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. McConnell said that while Warren was warned several times, “nevertheless she persisted.”
At the time she was censured, Warren was reading a 1986 letter in which Coretta Scott King opposed Sessions’ nomination as a district court judge (he was ultimately not confirmed). King criticized Sessions’ attempts to block voting rights for blacks.
“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,” the letter reads in part. “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made everywhere toward fulfilling my husband’s dream that he envisioned over 20 years ago.”
Many women were particularly moved by King’s words and outraged by McConnell’s actions. So they took to Twitter and posted videos reading the letter themselves. Actress Debra Messing started the movement, and then shared videos from other notable women:
Feminist and activist Gloria Steinem
Actress Patricia Arquette
Singer Cynthia Erivo
Comedian Kathy Najimy
Lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill
Author Luvvie Ajayi
Dartmouth professor Ella Bell
McConnell wasn’t the only senator to criticize Warren—Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said she “ought to be ashamed” of herself and that she should “think of his (Sessions’) wife.”
But this morning, several other senators took up Warren’s mantle—both New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown read King’s letter on the Senate floor without being silenced (because they’re men).