“Two Democrats expelled from Tennessee’s House for gun protest, as VP Harris visits to meet them”
In an unprecedented move, Tennessee Republicans expelled two Democratic lawmakers from their state Legislature as a form of retaliation for their participation in a protest that called for more gun control in the aftermath of a school shooting in Nashville.
Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, both Black, were ousted while Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white, narrowly survived the vote.
The racial divide in the vote sparked accusations of racism, which Republican leadership denied.
Vice President Kamala Harris made a last-minute trip to Tennessee to meet with lawmakers and hold a private meeting with the expelled representatives, as well as young gun control advocates.
Thousands of supporters flocked to the Capitol to cheer on the lawmakers, and the gallery erupted in screams and boos following the vote.
The expulsions drew criticism for using banishment as a weapon against political opponents instead of reserving it as a punishment for lawmakers accused of serious misconduct.
Republicans argued that the expulsion was necessary to prevent lawmakers from disrupting House proceedings through protests.
The two ousted lawmakers may quickly return to their posts if chosen by their county commissions until a special election can be scheduled.
Tennessee lawmakers cannot be expelled twice for the same offense under the state constitution.