News Release

Sessions Nomination: McConnell Stops Warren from Reading King’s Letter


2017.14.1_Cohn_origNBC News reports: “Senate Republicans voted to silence the Democrats’ Elizabeth Warren after she read from a letter by the widow of Martin Luther King that criticized the civil rights record of Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

“The debate on the confirmation of Sen. Sessions came to a screeching but temporary halt Tuesday night when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, objected to a speech that the Massachusetts Democrat was giving.

“Warren quoted from a letter that Coretta Scott King wrote in opposition to Sessions, a Alabama Republican, during his attempted confirmation for a federal judgeship 30 years ago.

“The letter said that Sessions, who was then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, had used the ‘the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge.’

“McConnell and other Republicans said Warren violated Senate rules. The rule, No. 19, says senators cannot ‘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.'”

The New York Times reports: “Capping a strikingly contentious confirmation process, the Senate is expected to vote as soon as Wednesday evening on the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be attorney general.”  See for upcoming events.

Rev. GRAYLAN S. HAGLER, gshagler [at], @graylanhagler
Hagler is senior pastor at the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. and chairperson of Faith Strategies. He has been an leading opponent of many of Trump’s policies, including his nomination of Sessions for attorney general.

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

Background on Sessions: See by Marjorie Cohn “Smooth-Talking Jeff Sessions Can’t Hide Disturbing Record,” which states: “Sessions is notorious for calling a Black attorney ‘boy’ and prosecuting three civil rights organizers, including a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr., for voter fraud in 1985. The bogus prosecution of the ‘Marion Three’ was designed to discourage voting rights for poor and elderly people in several ‘black belt’ Alabama counties. The three were acquitted by a jury after just three hours of deliberation. Their charges could have garnered them 100 years in prison.”

Also, see from Dennis Bernstein: “Sessions’s Old-Time Contempt for Civil Rights,” which states: “In 1996, I traveled through Alabama and Mississippi with fellow journalist Ron Nixon as we investigated a wave of arson against black churches. …

“However, Alabama’s Attorney General at the time was Sessions, who was in a close race for the U.S. Senate. Sessions’s approach to the burning of some 40 black churches over 18 months from late 1994 into 1996 was to turn the investigation into a joint probe linking the church burnings to an investigation of black voter fraud through alleged misuse of absentee ballots. The connection supposedly was that black voting-rights activists tried to cover up the fraud by burning down their own churches.”