Tennessee Republicans Looking to Expel 3 Democrats for Demonstrating on House Floor for Gun Control

YouTube / WTVC NewsChannel 9

The Tennessee House of Representatives was in an uproar on Monday night when Republicans sought to expel three Democrats who had interrupted House proceedings last Thursday by marching to the front of the House and leading the gallery in pro-gun control chants.


Speaking without being recognized is a breach of chamber rules, and Reps. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) and Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) along with Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) were under fire for “disorderly behavior” that some Republicans were referring to as an “insurrection.”

House Speaker Cameron Sexton stripped Reps. Jones and Johnson of their committee assignments before the full House voted for three resolutions to expel the Democrats because they “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions.”

“I don’t know if you heard what happened today, but there were three Democratic lawmakers, one from Knoxville, who basically tried to take over the House floor and cause an insurrection on the House floor today,” Sexton said on a local radio show.

That’s not entirely accurate. There was no “insurrection.” But approaching the chair without being recognized and using a bullhorn to drown out other members who wanted to be recognized was a serious breach of the rules. Interrupting the lawful proceedings of the legislature is also extremely serious. There is no issue that can justify blocking the legitimate business of the people or interrupting members in the process of performing their duties.


Didn’t Democrats say almost the same thing about January 6? And aren’t Democrats sending a thousand people to prison for essentially doing the same thing?

“So we were in between bills, and Rep. Justin Jones, Rep. Justin Pearson, and Rep. Gloria Johnson came to the well. We had protestors that had been vocal in the balcony. We had given them warnings. They were out in front of the chamber, being very vocal, yelling and screaming, which we are used to, at one point during session, to come up out of order and try to take over the House floor. Started pulling out a megaphone and shouting at members, and incite riots or violence. You had people outside the chamber who rushed the state troopers to try and get inside the chamber. They weren’t successful. So now we have multiple violations by those three.” Sexton released a social media statement on Monday.

Final votes to expel the three members will occur Thursday. Johnson, Jones, and Pearson will have an opportunity to defend their actions during that session.

The House chamber fell into chaos as Republican Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, introduced the first resolution, which called for Pearson’s expulsion. Protestors screamed from the galleries above. Pearson raised his fist in protest, and House Democrats raised their hands to object.

Amid the chaos, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, called for the vote, and the resolution passed with overwhelming support from the Republican supermajority. All three resolutions passed in a party-line vote of 72 to 23. Democrats will have little power to block expulsions on Thursday.


Sexton got to the crux of the issue, explaining the real reason for the members’ disruption.

“What they did was try to hold up the people’s business on the House floor instead of doing it the way that they should have done it, which they have the means to do,” Sexton said Monday. “They actually thought that they would be arrested. And so they decided that them being a victim was more important than focusing on the six victims from Monday. And that’s appalling.” (emphasis added)

Appalling, indeed.


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