President Biden has criticized the expulsion of two Tennessee lawmakers after they participated in a protest on the House floor against gun violence. The House voted to expel Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) and state Rep.Justin Pearson (D) for their participation in recent demonstrations, but Rep. Gloria Johnson survived her vote.
Biden said that the Republican-controlled House chose to expel lawmakers instead of participating in a discussion about gun reforms, and that 7,000 Tennesseans had marched to their state capitol to call on their lawmakers to take action and keep them safe. He also repeated his calls for other gun safety reform measures, including requiring safe storage of firearms and requiring background checks for every gun purchase.
The White House earlier condemned the proposed vote, describing it as "unprecedented" and "undemocratic." Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Pearson, and Justin Jones were ultimately expelled from the state Assembly after they stood together on the House floor calling for meaningful gun reform following the Covenant School shooting in Nashville.
Johnson was asked why she was spared by one vote while Pearson and Jones were expelled by a supermajority; several errors regarding facts about her might have been responsible since video screened at Thursday's proceedings showed no evidence supporting these claims.
In 2008, Johnson experienced firsthand a shooting at Central High School in Knoxville—the same incident country singer Kelsea Ballerini tearfully recounted when hosting Sunday's CMT awards ceremony—solidifying her determination towards addressing issues like this within legislative chambers despite challenges presented by opposing majorities who enforce perpetual lockdowns preventing any discourse around these subjects occurring therein.
Tennessee GOP-led State Houses' expulsion decisions concerning Democrats could resultantly produce ripple effects throughout other states nationwide where members defy rules legislated primarily through majority parties punishing minority party representatives with divergent political stances. Experts warn that this Tennessee case might offer a "green light" for parties to use chamber rules in efforts towards depriving citizens of representation within statehouses.
This expulsion marks the first partisan ejection in modern history, as protesters crowded Tennessee's Capitol while members vocally defended democracy on House floors. Meanwhile, conflict over removing committee assignments escalated under new GOP majorities within U.S. Houses—this week saw two Florida Democrats arrested and charged following their refusal to leave protests against six-week post-pregnancy abortion bans proposed by bills therein.