Claim: Senator Elizabeth Warren was punished for violating rule XIX of the Senate.
On February 7, Elizabeth Warren, during the debate over the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, attempted to read a letter from Coretta Scott King penned in 1986. During the course of reading this letter, Mitch McConnell called her out for violating what is called Rule XIX. After a party line vote, she was punished and was not being allowed to talk for the rest of the debate.
The rule in question, among other rules of protocol, dictates that a senator shall not attribute behavior or motive that is unbecoming of a senator to another member of the senate.
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.
The letter from which Warren was reading was written in 1986 by Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow in opposition of Session’s nomination to be a federal district judge. In the letter, Ms. King brought up Session’s track record on civil right and his alleged attempts to thwart voting by blacks. The allegations in the letter can be considered as conduct that is unbecoming of a senator.
The actions taken by Mr. Sessions in regard to the 1984 voting fraud prosecutions represent just one more technique used to intimidate Black voters and thus deny them this most precious franchise. The investigations into the absentee voting process were conducted only in the Black Belt counties where blacks had finally achieved political power in the local government. Whites had been using the absentee process to their advantage for years, without incident. Then, when Blacks realizing its strength, began to use it with success, criminal investigations were begun.
As a result of reading the letter, Warren was indirectly attributing conduct unbecoming of a senator to Session, who at the time was a sitting member of the senate. This is indeed a violation of Rule XIX and the claim is true.