Facebook gave Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren a voice late last night when her Senate colleagues attempted to silence her on the floor.
As Democrats rally against many of Trump’s cabinet nominations, an arcane rule was whipped out of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pocket, silencing Sen. Warren’s argument against the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.
So she took to Facebook Live to make her point, a video which has now totaled more than 6.2 million views.
In session, Sen. Warren read aloud a pair of letters written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, Coretta Scott King, and late Senator Edward Kennedy. These letters were penned in 1986 when Sessions was up for a federal judgeship.
In response, Sen. McConnell invoked Rule XIX, which was originally added in 1902 in the wake of a fist-fight in the Senate. The rule states: “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.”
To be clear, Sen. Warren was merely reading words written by a civil rights icon, who was opposing Sessions’ appointment to a federal judgeship in 1986.
After being shut down, Sen. Warren took matters into her own hands. She hit that Live button on Facebook and read the letter to all of Facebook. The video has now been seen more than 6.2 million times.
You can check it out here:
Even more interesting, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico read the same letter and wasn’t silenced at all, begging the question of whether or not Sen. Warren was simply silenced because of her gender.
Facebook may blur the lines between verified news and fake news and misinformation, but it also opens up a direct line of communication between citizens and public officials. Though we, as citizens, can’t vote on the appointment of Jeff Sessions to Attorney General, we can directly communicate with the Senators who hold that power.
As we move further into the Trump presidency, it seems that live streams on Facebook and Periscope will continue to be used as tools for dissent in Congress.