ASHLAND – Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) posted on social media today, April 8, “like so many Americans, I was shocked to see the reprehensible and anti-democratic actions taken against the #Tennessee3 by the #Tennessee House this week.”
“Tennessee Republicans on Thursday expelled two Democratic lawmakers from the state Legislature for their role in a protest calling for more gun control in the aftermath of a deadly school shooting in Nashville. A third Democrat was narrowly spared by a one-vote margin,” reported the Associated Press. “The split votes drew accusations of racism, with lawmakers ousting Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who are both Black, while Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white, survived the vote on her expulsion. Republican leadership denied that race was a factor, however.”
“The idea that Gloria Johnson was able to keep her seat while Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled demonstrates how much work remains to be done to uproot white supremacy in the United States – work we must all continue to commit ourselves to,” posted Senate President Spilka, who also represents Framingham & Natick.
“These three Reps showed tremendous bravery as they exercised their First Amendment rights to plead for a life free of fear of #gunviolence for our children. We need more of this bravery and truth-telling in America, not less. Let’s continue to lift their voices,” posted Senate President Spilka.
“Jones, Pearson and Johnson joined in protesting last week as hundreds of demonstrators packed the Tennessee Capitol to call for passage of gun-control measures. As the protesters filled galleries, the three approached the front of the House chamber with a bullhorn and participated in a chant. The scene unfolded days after the shooting at the Covenant School, a private Christian school where six people were killed, including three children”.” in Nashville.
“Banishment is a move the chamber has used only a handful times since the Civil War. Most state legislatures have the power to expel members, but it is generally reserved as a punishment for lawmakers accused of serious misconduct, not used as a weapon against political opponents,” reported the Associated Press.
“The two expelled lawmakers may not be gone for long. County commissions in their districts get to pick replacements to serve until a special election can be scheduled and they could opt to choose Jones and Pearson. The two also would be eligible to run in those races. Under the Tennessee Constitution, lawmakers cannot be expelled for the same offense twice,” reported the Associated Press.