As a result of their in-chamber protest of gun control, two of three Tennessee Democrats have lost their House seats. Tennessee House Republicans started working on Thursday to get three Democratic legislators kicked out of the General Assembly for “disorderly behavior” after they shouted protest slogans from the floor and held a gun reform demonstration there.
In violation of chamber procedures, three House Democrats approached the podium between pieces of legislation on Thursday without being recognized to speak. Reps. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, Justin Jones of Nashville, and Justin Pearson of Memphis, using a bullhorn to lead protesters in the galleries in several choruses calling for gun reform interrupted the House session by chanting, “No action, no peace” The impromptu reform caused legislative proceedings to be halted.
Cameron Sexton, the speaker of the House, responded by comparing the three legislators to the protestors who broke into the United States Capitol in 2021. He described their conduct as “unacceptable” and a violation of the House’s rules of decorum and procedure. On Monday, he revoked their access to the State Capitol and divested two of the three legislators of their committee assignments.
The Republicans who control the state government, headed by Governor Bill Lee, have rejected demands for stricter gun laws and instead prioritized school safety. On Thursday, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill mandating that schools conduct annual exercises, keep all entrance doors locked, and implement a mobile panic-alert system.
This past Monday, Andrew Farmer, Gino Bulso, and Bud Hulsey, three Republican state representatives, filed separate resolutions to expel Democrats. Despite Democratic opposition, the chamber easily passed a procedural vote hours later.
In each resolution, Republicans said that the lawmaker “knowingly and deliberately” brought disorder and dishonor to the House and generally behaved in a riotous and disruptive way. The measures make no mention of any additional consequences of the protests. A two-thirds vote is needed for a member of the 99-person House to be ousted, and Republicans have the supermajority they need to do this.
The House voted to expel Mr. Jones and Mr. Pearson on Thursday. Ms. Johnson survived after the chamber failed by one vote to remove her by a vote of 65 to 30.
In American history, expulsions of legislators from state legislatures have been uncommon. Most expulsion cases have involved state legislators facing criminal charges or sexual misconduct allegations.
The state is still dealing with the worst school shooting in its history, and the partisan expulsion process has made political tensions worse. Thousands of left-leaning demonstrators opposed the expulsion, drawing national attention to the Volunteer State.
Jones began his twenty-minute defense by stating that what is happening here today is a travesty of democracy. Adding that today’s circumstance is one in which the jury has already made the verdict public. Today’s events are merely a spectacle. Today, a vigilante mob has gathered to execute not me but our democratic process.
Jones said the extreme measures being taken are an attempt to subvert the democratically elected officials who are ardently fighting for the people.
The irony is that this is nothing compared to the leftist communist campaign against a popular former president who is leading the polls for the 2024 presidential election. A lynch mob, subverting the will of the people, all of that can apply to Donald Trump too. It is debatable whether Trump violated any laws; the three Democratic lawmakers knowingly violated the house rules they pledged to uphold.