Nashville Board Reappoints Justin Jones To Tennessee State House After Expulsion


Nashville’s Metropolitan Council voted unanimously Monday to reinstate expelled State Rep. Justin Jones (D) to his seat in the state legislature, four days after Tennessee’s GOP-led House voted overwhelmingly to expel him and one other Democrat for leading a gun reform protest at the State House in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Nashville—while one other Democrat who was booted from the House is also likely to get his seat back.

Key Facts

The council, which had been expected to send Jones back to the House, nominated Jones and voted to reappoint him 36-0, with council member Delishia Porterfield calling the House’s vote a “miscarriage of justice and an egregious assault on democracy.”

Under a provision in state law, local councils can appoint nominees to fill vacant seats until a special election is held, meaning Jones—who was first voted into office last year—will need to run for his seat again during a special election, which is expected to happen later this year.

Tennessee’s House of Representatives voted along party lines Thursday night to expel Jones and Memphis state Rep. Justin Pearson from the chamber (Rep. Gloria Johnson, a white woman, narrowly avoided expulsion by just one vote, and later told reporters she believes the reason Jones and Pearson—who are Black—were expelled “might have to do with the color of our skin”).

All three Democrats had participated in a gun control protest at the State House following the deadly shooting at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville late last month, when six people were killed, including three children.

Jones called the vote—one of the only instances in recent memory in which Tennessee lawmakers expelled a colleague—a “signal of authoritarianism” that “should sound the alarm across the nation that we’re entering into very dangerous territory” in an interview with MSNBC, and later criticized state Republicans for their “attempt to crucify democracy” in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press.


Republican members of the state’s House of Representatives had argued all three Democrats had violated state procedural rules by leading the protest, speaking out of turn and carrying signs with political messages at the State House, including one that said: “Protect Kids Not Guns.” Speaking on the House floor, a group of Republican representatives criticized their behavior: Rep. Gino Bulso called it “improper” and “wrongful,” while Rep. Andrew Farmer accused them of throwing a “temper tantrum with an adolescent bullhorn” (Jones and Pearson used a megaphone during the protest). After the vote, the Tennessee House Republicans issued a statement defending the votes, arguing that the three Democrats had engaged in “disrespectful and deliberate efforts to disrupt the business of the House.”

Chief Critic

The House’s historic votes last week—two of only a handful of expulsions since the Civil War—have been widely condemned by major Democrats. President Joe Biden called the votes “shocking, undemocratic and without precedent,” while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote that Tennessee Republicans care “more about stopping CERTAIN Democrats from speaking than they do about stopping America’s kids from getting shot to death.”

What To Watch For

The Shelby County Board of County Commission will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to vote on reappointing Pearson to the State House. Pearson has indicated he would return to his seat if given the opportunity. Commission Chairman Mickey Lowery told the Commercial Appeal: “It is equally understandable” that House leadership “felt a strong message had to be sent to those who transgressed the rules,” but that the expulsion “was conducted in a hasty manner without consideration of other corrective action methods.”

Further Reading

Tennessee House Expels 2 Democrats Over Gun Reform Protest (Forbes)

Democrats, Including Biden And Obama, Condemn Expulsion Of Tennessee Democrats: ‘Embarrassing Stain’ On Democracy (Forbes)

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles