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February 08, 2017

Decorum is supposed to matter in the United State Senate. As we learned last night, it is written in the rules.

Rule 19 Part 2 of the Senate 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.”

It's a good rule, particularly in an uncivil era where ad hominem has tended to replace honest debate.  

Senator Elizabeth Warren was ordered to “take her seat” and banned from speaking further on the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General for violating the rule. You can view here entire speech on the floor of the Senate here.

Worth noting that the Senator was quoting the words of former Senator Ted Kennedy and a letter from Coretta Scott King when she was accused of violating Rule 19.  And the words are harsh.

Watch Warren then watch Senator Tom Cotton in an earlier debate when he referred to the “bitter, vulgar, incoherent ramblings of the minority leader.”   This occurred less than a year ago.

Or watch Senator Ted Cruz call Senator Mitch McConnell, the man who invoked Rule 19 against Warren, a liar. On the Senate floor.  Less than two years ago.

All Republicans joined McConnell in ruling against Warren last night.  

All in the name of decorum.  One wonders, if decorum is so essential to the integrity and stability of the Senate, why the rule demanding it is so selectively enforced. 

Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell

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