Three members of the Tennessee House of Representatives face expulsion from that chamber after leading disruptive visitors in the gallery in chants for gun control.
Tennessee House business halted
Representatives Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson, all Democrats, approached the well of the House without recognition last Thursday. They then raised bullhorns and led protesters in the House gallery in several chants calling for gun control. All legislative business ground to a halt while this demonstration took place.
The excuse for their actions was the shooting of three pupils and three adults at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee on March 27.
Representatives Bud Hulsey, Gino Bulso, and Andrew Farmer, all Republicans, filed resolutions of expulsion against all three. The resolutions accuse them of “disorderly behavior” and that they:
did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions.
Representative Cameron Sexton, Speaker of the House, stripped the three of all their committee assignments.
Representative Jones has been in trouble before. In 2019 he threw a cup of an unidentified liquid at Sexton’s predecessor as Speaker. He was taking part in a protest of the presence of a portrait bust of General Nathan Bedford Forrest CSA inside the Capitol.
After receiving the expulsion resolutions, Speaker Sexton scheduled a vote on them for Thursday (April 6). A chant of “Fascists! Fascists!” broke out from the gallery, whereupon Sexton ordered Tennessee Highway Patrol officers to remove the chanters. One woman didn’t leave peaceably, shoved a THP officer, and drew an arrest and three charges.
Worse, several legislators “engaged in a confrontation” on the House floor. Rep. Jones accused a colleague of stealing his cellphone and trying to “incite a riot with his fellow members.” Sexton ruled him out of order and cut off his microphone.
Rep. Justin Lafferty avows taking Rep. Jones’ phone – in self-defense.
Representative Jones came to my desk and as I turned he shoved his phone in my face in a threatening manner. I reacted as anyone would. Attempts to characterize this as anything else are misleading and false. The three members who are in danger of losing their jobs are desperate to deflect attention away from their actions.
The Tennessean (with three articles), PBS News Hour, WTVF-TV (Channel 5, Nashville), Politico.com, and WPLN-FM (Nashville) all covered the story with varying attention to detail. These organs all concentrate on the apparent lack of local precedent for expulsion. But Dr. Steve Turley suggested the indictment of President Trump might be the real reason. In disrupting the House, those three Democrats gave supermajority Republicans the perfect excuse.
Turley predicted more of the same in other States with Republican supermajorities.
About the image
The snapshot of the Tennessee State Capitol by Gary Lee Todd, PhD, is released into the public domain.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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