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Lawmakers move swiftly to expel three Democrats for their role in 'insurrection' at Tennessee state Capitol
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Lawmakers move swiftly to expel three Democrats for their role in 'insurrection' at Tennessee state Capitol

Three Tennessee Democrats face expulsion from the General Assembly for their role in a protest that state House Republicans described as an "insurrection."

What is the background?

Last Thursday, protesters demanding stricter gun control laws overwhelmed the state Capitol.

At one point, three Democratic state lawmakers — Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson — broke decorum rules when they approached the House chamber lectern without being recognized to speak, whipped out a bullhorn, and participated with protesters who shouted from the chamber galleries.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) later described the protest as an "insurrection."

What is happening now?

On Monday, Republicans officially introduced formal resolutions to expel Johnson, Jones, and Pearson from the General Assembly.

The resolution justifies the expulsion based on grounds that the lawmakers "did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions," according to the Tennessean.

The three lawmakers were also stripped of their committee assignments, and their access to the Capitol was revoked.

The lawmakers are fiercely defending themselves, arguing there was not an "insurrection" and claiming House Republicans refused to let them speak last week.

  • Johnson: "The three of us were tired of our voice not being heard ... and we decided between bills we were going to walk up, we were going to acknowledge the people outside surrounding this building, in the rotunda, and we’re going to speak to their issue and tell them that we are with them, because they needed to hear that."
  • Jones: "Our mics were cut off throughout the week whenever we tried to bring up the issue of gun violence. When I went outside to support those protesting the Speak [sic] cut off my voting machine—the first time I’ve ever seen that happen. The Speaker refused to let us talk during welcoming and honoring to welcome our constituents—the thousands gathered outside the Capitol building."
  • Pearson: "We get punished for doing something like listening to the people of the state of Tennessee."

The vote to expel the lawmakers is expected to take place on Thursday.

Only two Tennessee state lawmakers have been expelled from the state House since the Civil War, and each expulsion was bipartisan. Democrats do not have the votes to block the expulsions.

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Chris Enloe

Chris Enloe

Staff Writer

Chris is a staff writer for Blaze News. He resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can reach him at cenloe@blazemedia.com.
@chrisenloe →