Friday, 10 February 2017

hey nineteen—no we can’t talk at all

The rule invoked to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren’s dissenting view on Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s appointment to the office of US Attorney General has been rarely used and was codified into law a century after Thomas Jefferson first anticipated the need for mechanism to maintain order when a heated debate escalated to physical violence.
The parliamentary proceedings that the Founding Father drafted was meant to curtail deliberations on the subject of abolition and following the fist-fight (over the subject of lynching) that spurred formal adoption in 1902 states, “No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form firm of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator… No Senator in debate shall refer offensively to any State of the Union…” Of course, this atmosphere of congeniality precludes debate on the floor and so has been sparingly called on. Warren’s rebuke could only be muffled by this legal fiction because the nominee happened to be an incumbent senator, who also happened to be denied a federal judgeship for being racially insensitive and his civil rights record and potential menace to social justice. The excerpts from a petition from civil rights icon Coretta Scott King from three decades hence that Senator Warren (whom Dear Leader still calls Pocahontas) tried to cite only recently came to light as the receipt of Ms King’s letter failed to enter it formerly into the congressional record. Now that Sessions is no longer a fellow senator, Warren is free to say anything she pleases about him. If we are to adhere to the rule book this closely, note well Rule XIX also provides, “Former Presidents of the United States shall be entitled to address the Senate upon appropriate notice to the Presiding Officer who shall thereupon make the necessary arrangements.”