By Bill Parry
Eight days after the U.S. Senate Republicans silenced Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren from reading a letter from Coretta Scott King, the women of the New York City Council stood in solidarity with the Massachusetts Democrat before a Council meeting Wednesday.
City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst), Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and the remaining women of the Council read the civil rights leader’s letter that was highly critical of the new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ record on civil rights in 1986 when he was seeking an ill-fated confirmation to a federal judgeship.
Warren was stopped by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called the Senate to order under Rule XIX, which prohibits debating senators from ascribing “to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.” Warren said she was surprised “that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate” and continued to read from the letter.
McConnell objected once again and Republicans backed up McConnell in a party-line vote 49 to 43. Warren was not allowed to speak on the Senate floor for the remainder of Sessions’ confirmation hearings for attorney general.
“Contrary to the Senate, the New York City Council is a place where the voices of women thunder and reverberate, as we’ve seen in our speaker and public advocate,” Ferreras-Copeland said. “Today, we gave voice to those who have been silenced all over our city and all over our country. In spite of, and perhaps because of, the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, together we too shall nevertheless persist. I thank all of my colleagues for their participation and for the respect they extend to the women of the Council.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr