Tennessee Republicans' Political Stunt Has Led to a Whole Lot of Nothing

Caption: Tennessee State Rep. Justin Jones gives speech after being reappointed to his seat.(Credit: Twitter/Now This News)

Well, if recent developments are any indication, it appears the effort by Tennessee Republican state lawmakers to oust two members of their political opposition might add up to a whole lot of nothing. After going to the trouble of voting to remove two Democratic state lawmakers for participating in an unruly protest in the Capitol building, it seems likely that both of these individuals will get their positions back only days later.


In a recent news article from ABC News, it was reported that Tennessee Republican state lawmakers had expelled two Democratic lawmakers, Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, from the state capitol for their vocal protests in support of gun control measures. However, in the end, it appears that their efforts were for naught, as the Nashville Metro Council voted to reinstate Jones to his position as a council member.

ABC News reported:

Nashville’s Metro Council voted unanimously to reinstate Justin Jones, the Tennessee House representative who was ousted last week for taking part in a gun control rally.

Jones will serve as an interim legislator until a special election is called.

The report continues, noting that Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman told the news outlet that members of the city council “quickly scheduled the meeting following Thursday’s vote” to expel Jones and Pearson.

“The meeting was packed with Jones’ supporters who made their voices heard, as Council members weighed their decision on the future of Jones’ seat,” ABC News reported. “They let out a huge cheer after the vote came through after nearly 12 minutes.”

Before the proceedings, Jones addressed a crowd of protesters demonstrating on his behalf.


The decision to expel Pearson and Jones was met with widespread criticism from many who saw it as an attack on free speech and democracy. Many argued that their expulsion was a violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and assembly. Others argued that the move was racist since Republican lawmakers voted to keep State Rep. Gloria Johnson in the legislature even though she also participated in the gun control protest – and also because everything is racist.

Republicans who supported removing Jones and Pearson said that the Democratic lawmakers “flouted decorum and disrupted legislative business,” according to the Washington Examiner.

Pearson could possibly regain his seat shortly after Jones if the Shelby County Board of Commissioners votes in his favor. However, the lawmaker has suggested that Republicans in the state legislature have threatened members of the board.

Another interesting factoid about this whole debacle is that expulsions are typically meant for officials who have engaged in criminal activity. “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,” the Washington Examiner noted.

So far, the situation doesn’t look too shabby for Jones and Pearson if they get reappointed to their seats. Under the Tennessee Constitution, lawmakers enjoy a legal immunity similar to the double jeopardy provision in the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. No member can be expelled more than once for the same offense, which will make it even more difficult for Republicans to get rid of them.


Even further, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a Republican, indicated on Monday that he would not move to prevent the two lawmakers from being reappointed. His spokesman told The Tennesseean that “[t]he two governing bodies will make the decision as to who they want to appoint to these seats” and that the individuals “will be seated as representatives as the constitution requires.”

Despite the controversy surrounding the decision to expel the lawmakers, it seems that their efforts ultimately accomplished nothing. While they may have temporarily silenced Pearson and Jones, the Nashville Metro Council’s decision to reinstate Jones to his position as a council member shows that this whole thing was nothing more than the type of political theater America has come to expect in this current political climate.

The time the Republicans spent on this futile attempt to remove political opposition from the legislature might have been better used for solutions that would address the issue of school shootings. Instead, they only turned these two anti-gunner authoritarians into heroes and probably gave them a hefty boost to their careers, which means this probably won’t be the last time we have to listen to them perform horrific imitations of Martin Luther King Jr., which is probably the absolute worst part of this fiasco.


If the GOP wants to make progress on protecting our liberties, they have to rely more on substance than on silly political stunts like this. Sure, it might make people feel good. It might make it seem as if the party is actually fighting on behalf of the conservative agenda. But how many times have we seen them pull off these performances without actually accomplishing anything? In this instance, they helped Jones and Pearson just like Alvin Bragg is helping former President Donald Trump. If they truly want to win, they must do better than this.

The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.



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