#LetLizSpeak and #ShePersisted: Dems protest GOP silencing of Elizabeth Warren

Shortly after Senate Republicans voted to stop Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., from reading a 1986 letter by Martin Luther King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing Tuesday, the Internet exploded in protest — as the hashtag #LetLizSpeak began trending on Twitter.

In the letter, addressed to then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond, King expressed her opposition to Sessions, who had been nominated for a federal judgeship in Alabama.

Warren told Yahoo News that she wanted to highlight King’s response to Sessions, who as a U.S. attorney in Alabama had prosecuted civil rights workers for helping elderly black citizens vote — and believes her GOP colleagues simply didn’t want to hear it.

“I think they just didn’t want to hear her letter,” Warren said Wednesday. “And I’ll be blunt: That’s part of the reason once he put me in my chair, and I’m not allowed to speak in the United States Senate, I went outside, I read the letter, I posted it on Facebook. I want everyone in America to read this letter.”

Related: The Coretta Scott King letter Elizabeth Warren wasn’t allowed to read

Republican senators argued that Warren’s quoting the letter violated an arcane Senate rule against “impugning the motives” of a colleague.

“She was warned,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued on the Senate floor. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

If McConnell was hoping to silence Warren, the move backfired as social media users rallied around the progressive firebrand — and “she persisted” became a rallying cry.

Warren’s reading of King’s letter on Facebook Live attracted more than 2 million views.

George Takei, the actor and activist, suggested Warren’s Democratic colleagues read King’s letter on the Senate floor in solidarity.

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall did just that.

Udall then took to Twitter to explain why he did it.

“I read Mrs. King’s letter about Mr. #Sessions’ commitment to justice for all,” he wrote. “I leave it to my colleagues to assess that commitment.”

Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) followed suit.

Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio, said Warren was out of line.

“We have become a society incapable of having debates anymore,” Rubio said.

But to Warren, King’s letter was a crucial part of the debate.

“I went to the floor last night to do my constitutional responsibility: to debate whether or not Jeff Sessions should be the next attorney general of the United States,” Warren told Yahoo News. “My constitutional responsibility is to come down here and debate with my head and with my heart.”

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