OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 12:28 PM – Tuesday, April 11, 2023
Republican Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton is being urged to step down by Democrat Representative Justin Jones, who was reinstalled in the chamber on Monday.
Cameron Sexton was referred to as an “enemy of democracy” by Jones, one of two Black Democratic lawmakers who were booted from the GOP-controlled House last week for organizing a gun control demonstration in the Capitol.
“He is an enemy of democracy, and he doesn’t deserve to be in that office of a Speaker of the House any longer,” Jones said.
As a result of their disruption of statehouse operations in protest of delay on gun reform following the fatal school massacre at a private Christian school in Nashville, Jones and Representative Justin Pearson “deserved expulsion,” according to the Speaker.
In a dramatic vote that was denounced by Democrats as voter suppression and disenfranchisement, Jones and another Black Democrat named Justin Pearson was expelled from the legislature. The action, according to President Joe Biden, was “shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent.” Democrat Representative Gloria Johnson, a third protesting lawmaker, had just barely escaped the expulsion by one vote.
Johnson later asserted that the reason she was not expelled was due to the color of her skin. The expulsion votes were compared by members of the Tennessee Black Caucus to a “Jim Crow-era trial.”
Sexton insisted that Jones and Pearson were removed in order to establish a precedent that disrupting House proceedings would not be permitted.
“In my House on the floor, since I’m Speaker, we have rules, we have decorum, we have a process, we have procedures,” Sexton said. “Imagine that that happened on the congressional floor during his State of the Union address and people took over in front of him, pulled out a bullhorn and started leading the people in chants, a protest from the congressional floor. I don’t think he would approve of that.”
On Monday, the Nashville Metropolitan Council had unanimously decided to send Jones back to the legislature on an interim basis. Local legislative bodies are allowed under state law to choose temporary statehouse representatives when a vacancy occurs. The Shelby County Commission may choose to reappoint Pearson as soon as Wednesday.
The seats of Jones and Pearson will be up for special elections in the upcoming months. In their respective elections, both men have declared their intention to run.
Doug Kufner, a representative for Sexton, stated that whomever is chosen by the Nashville and Shelby County governments to fill the openings “will be seated as representatives as the constitution requires.”
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