Nashville Metro Council to vote on reinstating ousted Tennessee lawmaker

Harris Tennessee Lawmaker Expulsion
Expelled Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, from left, expelled Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, and Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, are recognized by the audience at Fisk University before Vice President Kamala Harris arrives, Friday, April 7, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Nashville Metro Council to vote on reinstating ousted Tennessee lawmaker

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Members of the Nashville Metro Council are set to convene later Monday to contemplate the prospect of reappointing former state Rep. Justin Jones, a Democrat.

Jones was expelled from the state House last Thursday after he and Democratic state Rep. Justin Pearson used a bullhorn to demonstrate in favor of gun control during a state House session. The ousting of Jones and Pearson attracted a national outcry from Democrats.

EXPELLED TENNESSEE LAWMAKER DECRIES STATE AS ‘MOST UNDEMOCRATIC’ IN THE NATION

A majority of the council has tweeted in favor of reappointing Jones, but Republicans in the state House have allegedly threatened retaliation. The council is set to meet at 4:30 p.m. local time to discuss Jones’s situation. Meanwhile, about a mile away, the Tennessee House will be in session.

Over the weekend, Jones revealed that he would accept a reappointment. He blasted his expulsion from the state legislature and decried Tennessee as “the most undemocratic state in the nation.”

Jones and Pearson had protested in favor of increased gun control in the wake of the Covenant school shooting last month that left three children, three adults, and the shooter dead. They were joined by Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson in their protest, though she was not expelled.

Republicans who backed the ouster argued they flouted decorum and disrupted legislative business. Typically, expulsions from state legislatures are levied for criminal activity. Their booting came from a two-thirds majority vote by their Republican colleagues last Thursday.

The duo argued they had been stymied from discussing gun violence on the House floor and had their mics cut prior to their demonstration.

To send Jones back to the state House, the council will have to suspend a procedural rule to pave the way for it to allow a nomination and appointment simultaneously. Otherwise, the appointment of Jones will likely be delayed by about a month.

“I’m confident that we do have the votes to return him back to his seat,” Councilwoman Kyonzte Toombs told CNN.

Just two votes against suspending the procedure could stop the effort.

Pearson could also theoretically be sent back to the state House by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners, but he alleged that officials in Nashville have threatened retaliation if it does so.

“I’ve already heard that people in the state legislature and in Nashville are actually threatening our Shelby County Commissioners to not reappointment and they’re going to take away funding that’s in the governor’s budget,” Pearson told NBC’s Meet the Press.

Historically, there have only been two other expulsions in the state House — one in 2016 for a representative who faced sexual harassment allegations and another in 1980 who was found guilty of taking a bribe.

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In keeping with the Tennessee Constitution, a special election will be held for Pearson’s and Jones’s seats. The state constitution also permits the appointment of temporary replacements to fill their slots. A date has not yet been set for a special election.

A number of Democrats criticized the Tennessee expulsions over the weekend, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who visited Tennessee last week in a last-minute stop to rally behind Pearson and Jones.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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