The So Called Senate Decorum and Freedom of Speech by Ayala Emmett

Silencing is un-American

When the president said that we in America also do terrible things he was wrong about the moral equivalence with Russia. No, our senators do not murder people of the opposition.

However, Republican senators are determined to silence freedom of speech and crush any opposition in every way.

The Republicans have embarked on a series of confirmations by hurrying every nominee through the senate with clear disregard for their qualifications. Little mattered, not even the candidates’ ethical record. The cover-up of unfit nominees was on daily display and in full view on the floor of the senate on Tuesday.

The speaker denied Senator Elizabeth Warren the right to read a precious letter and prevented her from further speaking on the nomination of Jeff Session. In one arrogant swoop the speaker silenced Coretta Scott King’s testimonial letter of Session’s abuse of power, humiliated a colleague. and demonstrated contempt for hard-fought civil rights in this country.

By silencing Mrs. King’s timely letter the speaker wanted to cover up the sins of his buddy Jeff Session. His target audience was, as it has been for the president, those in our country who think that civil rights are a zero-sum game. The Republicans are pandering to voters who view human rights for minorities, refugees, immigrants as personal affronts and as a diminishing of their rights.

Rather than take actions to assure the voters that human rights benefit all, the Republican leadership is taking us back to a shameful racist time in our nation. Senator Rand Paul, a former presidential candidate, responded on Wednesday to the banning of Senator Warren from the vetting process by claiming that the senate rules are about “decorum,” not freedom of speech. He added that senators don’t like to be called racists. And immediately referred to the letter that Senator Warren tried to read as just “someone’s opinion.” He did not mention by name Coretta King an icon of the civil rights movement. Senator Rand placed the blame on Democrats who, he said, were just mad about the election results. He has been waiting, he added, for the Democrats to calm down and co-operate.

Those of us who watched the way that the speaker so rudely silenced Senator Warren saw no sign of the so-called senate decorum. As for freedom of speech, which according to Senator Rand  is irrelevant in the senate, we the people can do something about it.

We can, like Coretta King and Elizabeth Warren stand firm and speak up for human rights in airports, on the airwaves, and in every conceivable way. We can begin by disseminating Coretta King’s precious letter and share it on social media. We can continue to resist intimidation. We can find allies and connect and stand together. There is great trength in numbers. Let’s remember there are more of us, by almost 3 million American voters.

Read Coretta King’s letter below
“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her nine-page letter opposing Sessions’s nomination, which failed. “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.”

Thirty years later, Sessions, now a senator, is again undergoing confirmation hearings as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, and he is facing fierce opposition from civil rights groups.

In the letter, King writes that Sessions’s ascension to the federal bench “simply cannot be allowed to happen,” arguing that as a U.S. attorney, the Alabama lawmaker pursued “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She said Sessions’s conduct in prosecuting civil rights leaders in a voting-fraud case “raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens.”

“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” she wrote, later adding, “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.”