Tennessee’s House Expels First of 3 Democrats for Protest

April 6, 2023

On Thursday, the Republican-dominated Tennessee House of Representatives expelled one of three Democrats at risk of being kicked out of the legislature over their role in protests calling for gun control in the wake of the Nashville school shooting.


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The vote to overthrow Rep. Justin Jones by 72 to 25 was an unusual move the Chamber had used several times since the Civil War.

The House was also considering ousting Reps. Gloria Johnson and Justin Pearson a week after, the trio chanted back and forth from the chamber floor with gun-control supporters who packed the gallery. It took place days after six people, including three children, were shot dead at a Covenant school in Nashville.

The noise drowned out the proceedings as thousands flocked to the Capitol to support the three Democrats and cheered and sang outside the House floor.

On Thursday morning, the trio stepped onto the floor of the house hand-in-hand, with Pearson raising his fist at the crowd during the Pledge of Allegiance. Jones took the opportunity to defend himself before the vote, saying Republicans responded to the shootings with a different kind of attack.

“We called for you all to ban assault weapons, and you respond with an assault on democracy,” he said. An expulsion demand requiring a two-thirds majority dates back to the attack on the Covenant school. Johnson, Jones and Pearson chanted back and forth on the floor of the chamber with a gallery full of gun control advocates.

According to Republican Rep. Gino Bulso the three Democratic representatives “effectively conducted a mutiny.”

“The gentleman shows no remorse,” Bulso said, referring to Jones. “He does not even recognize that what he did was wrong. So not to expel him would simply invite him and his colleagues to engage in mutiny on the House floor.”

Even if exiled, the three senators may not be around for long. District committees may elect alternates until a special election is called.

All expelled MPs have the opportunity to potentially return to their seats. They would also be eligible to run for special elections. Also, in concordance with the Tennessee Constitution, MPs cannot be deposed twice for the same crime.

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