Tennessee GOP vote to remove 3 Dem Reps, settle for 2

Tennessee GOP lawmakers voted on Thursday to remove 3 democrats from the House, for their participation in the gun control protests, at the capitol, last week.  The GOP supermajority were able to oust 2 democrat reps, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson; with a third, Gloria Johnson, remaining a member of the house, as the necessary two-thirds majority requirement could not be met to remove her.  

The unprecedented vote, which is a rare occurrence (only happening two times prior to Thursday’s vote) tends to be a bipartisan effort only carried out after criminal investigations or an otherwise ethical lapse.  The move to oust the three was presented on Monday, and voted on by Thursday, leaving many stunned by the swiftness of the clearly partisan action.  

When asked why she was not ousted, Rep Gloria Johnson was quick to point out that she’s white and the other two representatives are black, echoing a quickly formed public sentiment that the removal is racially motivated.  

The decision to vote on the expulsion of the three democrat representatives came as a result of the heated protests in front of the capitol on March 30th.  More than 1,000 protesters crowded the capitol, to demand gun control reform days after a mass shooting at The Covenant School claimed the lives of 3 children and 3 adults.  The offense that led to the vote was  the participation of the three representatives in the protest, culminating in them approaching the house lectern (without being summoned to do so) and continuing to lead the protest with a bullhorn. These actions led to the House temporarily suspending their legislative duties while the matter was resolved peaceably. 

House speaker Cameron Sexton compared the actions of the representatives to “an insurrection”.

An audience of supporters of who are now being dubbed the “tennessee three” openly objected to the removal of the two democrat representatives, hurl derision and rebuke from the public viewing gallery.  They were forcibly removed from the chamber by state troopers. 


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