Expelled Tennessee Lawmakers May Soon Be Reappointed To State House

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Upcoming local meetings will likely create a path for former Democratic Reps. Justin Jones of Nashville and Justin Pearson of Memphis to be reappointed to the Tennessee state House after they were ousted over staging a protest on the chamber floor.

According to NPR, meetings expected to be held this week by local officials could lead to both Jones and Pearson, who were voted out of the House on Thursday (April 6), holding temporary positions in the state legislature.

Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman called for the Metropolitan Council to convene on Monday (April 10) to discuss who will fill Jones' empty seat in District 52, according to an email tweeted out by councilmember Bob Mendes. The 40-member Nashville council will be in charge of appointing an interim House representative, and then a special county election will follow to determine who will carry out the rest of the term.

The majority of the council has already pledged to reappoint Jones, per NBC News.

As for Pearson, chairman Mickell Lowery announced that a special meeting is to be held on Wednesday (April 12) to "consider the action to reappoint Mr. Justin Pearson to his duly elected position to represent the citizens in District 86," according to Action News 5.

Commissioner Erika Sugarmon told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that Pearson has enough supporters on the commission to get him successfully reappointed as an interim representative. The county will then hold a special election to fill the seat.

The impending local meetings come after the Black lawmakers and Rep. Gloria Johson of Knoxville, who is white, led a protest on the House floor calling for gun violence in the wake of the Nashville school shooting. GOP lawmakers led the charge in seeking their expulsions, citing that the trio broke House decorum rules.

On Thursday, Jones and Pearson were expelled from the House while Johnson survived the ousting by one vote. In the wake of the expulsion, about 130,000 voters in heavily Black districts have no representation in the state legislature.

Jones and Pearson expressed their desire to return to their posts in an interview with NBC.

"We will continue to fight for our constituents," Jones said.

"This attack against us is hurting all people in our state," he added. "Even though it is disproportionately impacting Black and brown communities, this is hurting poor white people ... silencing them."

Pearson said he and his colleague were ousted from the House because they "decided that it was time for the state of Tennessee Republicans to stop listening to the NRA and start listening to the thousands of children and teens and grandmothers and siblings who are mourning because of the effects of gun violence."

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