The so-called "nuclear option" put into place, Sessions will need a bare majority to be confirmed as Attorney General. This will come despite a wide range of questions over his background, his history as an attorney and judge, and his votes in the Senate.
Unfortunately, a full debate about Sessions's record is not possible in the U.S. Senate, the body of government charged with confirming cabinet appointments, because Sessions is a member of the Senate. Current Senators are forbidden from criticizing other sitting Senators while debating on the floor.
Senator Elizabeth Warren was no doubt wary of this fact when she read from a letter where Coretta Scott King, the civil rights leader and late widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, criticized Sessions when he was up for a judgeship in 1986.
In the letter, King says Sessions disenfranchised African-American voters by using his position as a federal prosecutor to "chill the free exercise of the vote."
After Warren read the passage in debate over Sessions's nomination for Attorney General, McConnell stood up in the Senate and invoked the Senate rules to silence Warren. Over her appeal, they asked her to "take her seat." In one short-sighted swoop, McConnell managed to alienate the words of Coretta Scott King, one of our greatest African-American civil rights leaders. He also managed to alienate the supporters of one of the most-admired Democratic Senators by shutting down Warren's speech on Sessions without, as some have noted, any concern over the content of the claims in her speech.
That's a move that can have lasting effects as Warren has a way of firing up the liberal base. By declaring war on Warren, McConnell risks making her profile even bigger over something he probably has already won: The nomination of Sessions as AG. Longtime Senator Orrin Hatch pointed out that he votes are likely there to confirm Sessions.
With that being the case, McConnell's use of this Senate rule to shut down Warren who was quoting King on Sessions looks even worse. By the way, you can bet your bottom dollar that this won't stop Warren from speaking out, either.
Below, by the way, is the full text of the letter that got Senator Warren in difficulty last night. It deserves to be seen so that every one knows what one great American thought about Sessions. Quite ironic that it was addressed to the then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Strom Thurmond.