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Newly Reinstated TN Dem Lawmaker Calls On Speaker Who Ousted Him To Resign

Justin Jones had strong words for Cameron Sexton, after being reinstated as interim state rep by the Nashville Metropolitan Council.

Tennessee Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton looks on as Democratic state Representative Justin Jones speaks
Seth Herald/Getty Images

Tennesee Democratic state Representative Justin Jones was expelled from the legislature by a Republican-controlled House last month, along with fellow Democratic Representative Justin Pearson, after they and another Democratic lawmaker joined a protest against gun violence in the House.

The House GOP members had all kinds of excuses and rationales for why they voted to expel 2 Representatives who are young Black men and not the White older woman who also joined the protest, including that Representative Gloria Johnson didn't "participate to the extent that Jones and Pearson did."

Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton claimed that Jones and Pearson were expelled to set an example that disrupting House proceedings wouldn't be tolerated, and not for any racist reasons.

He told Fox News:

"In my house on the floor, since I'm speaker, we have rules, we have decorum, we have a process, we have procedures."

GOP lawmakers' insistence that their decisions weren't motivated by racism doesn't do anyting to change the optics of expelling two Black lawmakers and not expelling the White lawmaker who also participated in the "disruption."

Tennessee state law allows local legislative bodies to vote to fill vacancies in the state legislature, and one of those bodies has already voted to reinstate Representative Jones to his seat.

Jones was reinstated as an interim Representative by a unanimous vote of the Nashville Metropolitan Council.

He will hold the office pending a special election that will be held in the coming months, and has indicated that he intends to run in that special election.

It seems likely Representative Pearson will also be reinstated by a vote of the Shelby County Commission as early as Wednesday. Pearson has also said that he will run in the special election for his seat.

After he was sworn back into office yesterday, Representative Jones made it clear that he intends to keep fighting for gun control.

"The first thing I do when I walk into this building as a representative is to continue that call for commonsense gun legislation."

Jones told CNN he thinks Sexton should step down, calling him an "enemy of democracy."

"He is an enemy of democracy, and he doesn’t deserve to be in that office."

Representative Johnson agreed with Jones and added she thought Sexton was suppressing healthy discussion and debate in the House before the hearings that led to Jones' and Pearson's expulsion.

"Before the hearings, we had more healthy debate on bills than I think we’ve ever had in three or four years on the House floor, because people were watching."

Tennessee Democrats aren't the only ones calling for Sexton to resign, though.

A member of his own party thinks he should step down for how he handled things too.

Former Republican state Rep. Kent Calfee also voiced his disapproval of how Sexton handled the whole situation on Twitter.

According to The Tennessee Lookout, Calfee also said:

"I’ll be 74 in May, there’s damage been done to this state that will not be repaired in my lifetime."
"Beats all I’ve ever seen."
"Kept Gloria and kicked out the two Black men."

It seems unlikely that Sexton will step down, but he could be put in an uncomfortable position if more members of his party start to speak out against how he handled Jones' and Pearson's expulsions.