Tennessee GOP Lawmakers Expel 2 Democratic State House Members After Gun Protests
Tennessee Republican state House members expelled two Democratic representatives following a protest at the state capitol.
Reps. Justin Jones of Nashville and Justin Pearson of Memphis were ousted from their seats. Both Jones and Pearson are black.
A third representative, Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, who is white and also participated in the protests, survived the expulsion by one vote.
Republicans, who hold a 75-seat supermajority in the 99-seat legislature, heard the three members defend their actions this week before voting on the resolution. All three lawmakers had already been removed from their committee assignments on party-line votes.
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The three lawmakers led peaceful protests following the school shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville. Thousands protested at War Memorial Plaza after a 28-year-old entered the school with three guns and killed six people – including two schoolchildren.
The three lawmakers organized and led protests, eventually occupying the state’s gallery. Some Republican lawmakers have compared the peaceful demonstrations to the violent January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Reps. Andrew Farmer of Sevierville, Gino Bulso of Brentwood, and Bud Hulsey of Kingsport sponsored the bill. They maintain the three Democratic lawmakers broke House rules around “preserving order, adhering to decorum, speaking only with recognition, not crowding around the Clerk’s desk, avoiding personalities, and not using props or displaying political messages.”
The resolution states the three lawmakers “engaged in disorderly and disruptive conduct, including refusing to leave the well, sitting on the podium, and utilizing a sign displaying a political message.”
Democratic lawmakers balked at claims that the three should be expelled for their actions.
“The political retribution is unconstitutional and, at this moment, morally bankrupt,” the state’s Black Caucus said in a statement.
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