BREAKING: Shelby County Commission Reappoints Justin Pearson to TN House of Representatives

AP Photo/George Walker IV

As everyone watching knew would happen, Justin Pearson, one of the “Tennessee Three” expelled from the state legislature after helping lead an insurrection, has been reappointed to the Tennessee House of Representatives by the Shelby County Commission.


Rep. Justin Jones, the other Democrat lawmaker expelled last week, was reappointed Monday afternoon.

Although Jones and Pearson were reappointed, the GOP Speaker doesn’t have to seat them – given their conduct and that they’re completely unrepentant, that would be justified – but he’s going to. As Bonchie wrote:

You have to wonder what the point of expulsion is in Tennessee if the expelled members can simply be reinstated almost immediately. I would assume the plain letter of the law intended for there to be a real successor, not a reappointment, otherwise, there would be no point in having the ability to expel in the first place. Given that, the GOP shouldn’t just shrug their shoulders at this. They should refuse to seat Jones and take legal action if necessary. As of now, the Speaker is indicating that won’t happen, though.

With that said, if there is truly nothing else the GOP can do here legally and this ended up being another type of censure, I’m still fine with that. One of the things Republican voters have complained about for years is the unwillingness of their elected representatives to even try to do what is right. Sometimes you engage in battle and you end up in a stalemate, which may happen here, but I’d rather see Republicans engage than make excuses about why they must sit on their hands and do nothing. In sports, you miss every shot you refuse to take. It’s no different in politics.


Given that one Republican, Rep. Jody Barrett, was swayed by the arguments of the one white lawmaker in the group, Gloria Johnson, and saved her from expulsion, turning the entire exercise into a tool for the Democrats to scream “racism!” it’s not surprising that the speaker is seating Pearson and Johnson. It’s a big reminder, though, to have your votes solidly in line before the actual vote so you don’t end up in this position.

Bonchie did have another great point, though. Even though the two are back, they’re powerless for now.

Presumably, no matter what happens, Jones and Pearson will remain completely sidelined inside the legislature. That means nothing they propose will come up for a vote and they will remain banned from all committee assignments. If that’s the kind of representation their respective cities want, then so be it.

Special elections will be held for the remainder of Jones and Pearson’s terms, which they will run in and undoubtedly win, and then they’ll have the same ability to get things done that they had before this – but given the makeup of the legislature they didn’t wield a large amount of power.


Maybe they can use whatever power they do have to work toward something that will actually prevent more children being slaughtered instead of grandstanding for political points.



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