Michigan Lawmaker All Too Familiar With What Elizabeth Warren Experienced with Censure




This week Senator Elizabeth Warren was censured by Republican Senate leaders.

The reason? Because she read a letter written by Coretta Scott King that was highly critical of Senator Jeff Sessions’ record on civil rights.

This isn’t the first time a woman has been told she’s not allowed to speak in a legislative chamber after her words are deemed inappropriate by male leaders. Right here in Michigan a few years back, a number of women in the state Legislature were censured after saying the words “vagina” and “vasectomy” — both medical terms — during debate over anti-abortion legislation. 

Then-state Representative Lisa Brown was prevented by Republican leaders from speaking on the floor for a couple days after that speech, and received national attention for her speech.

What is it like to be shut down and told you can’t debate for what seems like reasonable language? What does that then do for the message you’re hoping to send?

Brown, now the Oakland County Clerk, says the move to officially quiet a lawmaker rarely works in the censurer’s favor. She says it can cause a public backlash to and story that would otherwise fade away.

The majority of people say ‘no, it’s not okay’ and it backfires,” Brown tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson. 

Brown says says U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s words about Elizabeth Warren are quickly and easily used against him.

McConnell said:

Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Brown says “nevertheless, she persisted” has become a battle cry for Democrats and liberals alike.

We deserve to be heard,” she says.

To hear more from Brown on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: C-SPAN

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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