By James J. Hamilton
WASHINGTON—This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was cut off in the middle of a floor speech in opposition to the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for the office of Attorney General, in which Warren read from a letter by Coretta Scott King and raised concerns that Sessions was a racist. After repeated warnings to Warren that her speech violated decorum, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ended the speech by invoking Senate Rule 69, which states: “No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words exhibit bitchiness, cuntiness, or any combination thereof.”
Senate Rule 69 was instituted in 1932 after Hattie Caraway became the first woman elected to a U.S. Senate seat. Senatress Caraway* wasted no time earning the ire of the all-male deliberative body when she spoke out against the proposed repeal of prohibition during a December 16, 1932 floor debate. Implying that several Senators were notorious drunks, Caraway was shouted down by her booze-addled colleagues, who suggested that she should stop being a buzzkill and "show a little skin." Later that same night, Majority Leader Joseph Robinson (like Caraway, a Democrat from Arkansas) reportedly drafted Senate Rule 69 on a napkin in a Capitol Hill speakeasy, surrounded by a horde of gin-soaked Senators howling with laughter. The next day, Senate Rule 69 was adopted by a vote of 94-2, with only Caraway and one emasculated nancy boy from Vermont voting against it.
If Senator Warren wants to do good service to the nation and her constituents, she needs to study the hallowed and time-honored rules of the Senate and learn to follow them. Or else.
*Female Senators were officially referred to as “Senatress” until 1968, when Maureen Neuberger (the only Senatress in office at the time) successfully persuaded over 60 Senators’ wives to withhold sex until their husbands voted to change the title.