On Wednesday night, the U.S. Senate voted 52 to 47 to confirm Jeff Sessions as attorney general. The vote came after a bitter struggle between Republicans and Democrats in congress, with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren leading the resistance against Sessions’ nomination.
Warren’s confirmation hearing speech began with a quote from the late Senator Edward Kennedy, and it ended when she quoted again, this time from a letter Coretta Scott King wrote to the Senate in 1986 urging them not to confirm Sessions as a federal judge. After a vote, Warren was barred from speaking on the grounds she’d broken a Senate rule. “She was warned,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in what’s fast becoming a rallying cry for the left. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” But that didn’t stop Warren from sharing her concerns on social media, and now that Sessions has been confirmed, she’s continuing to make her voice heard.
“When he said ‘Nevertheless, she persisted,’ I thought, ‘You bet I persist. And I will persist,” Warren told the Cut just before the Sessions vote. “The idea that reading Coretta Scott King’s letter to the United States Senate was somehow out of order is beyond laughable — no, it’s not laughable, because it’s not funny. Because the point is to try to silence what Coretta Scott King was talking about.” She went on, “Notice that Republicans haven’t said, ‘Oh, she got the facts wrong,’ or, ‘Here are other things he did that give a very different impression.’ They say, ‘You’re just not allowed to talk about that.’ And that’s a pretty stunning statement of how debate works in America.”
As Warren put it during her appearance on the View, she was moved to read the letter because it “describe[s] a moment in history in which Sessions was an active participant.” But now that he’s been confirmed, she said, “We have to hold him accountable. The attorney general is responsible for standing up for the people who need protection the most. [And] we need to press him every single day to do that.” She added that while she’ll be pushing the Senate to do so, the real progress will come from constituents and from grassroots organizers who must keep careful track of the issues.
“Let me describe it to you this way,” Warren told The Cut. “They have concentrated money and power, and there are real advantages to concentrated money and power. But we have our voices and our votes, and they are effective when we are connected to each other.” Protests, she said, are one way to leverage that connectivity. “The Women’s March mattered,” she said. “It mattered to us, to remind us that we’re still in the fight, but it mattered to say loudly to the Republicans in Washington, ‘We’re here. We’re strong. And we will be persistent.’”