UNITED STATES NEWS

Double standard? Tennessee GOP seeks to oust 3 Democrats

Apr 4, 2023, 1:51 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A growing chorus is pushing back against Tennessee Republicans seeking to oust three House Democrats for using a bullhorn to shout support for pro-gun control protesters in the House chamber, while the GOP has previously resisted removing its own members even when weighing criminal allegations.

Most recently, the Republican-controlled Statehouse declined to take action against a member accused of sexual misconduct, as well as those who have faced social media posts.

Nevertheless, Democratic Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson face possible expulsion for taking to the front of the House and chanting back and forth with gun control supporters who packed the gallery days after The Covenant School shooting in Nashville that killed six people, including three children.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a Republican, quickly promised the lawmakers would face consequences, warning he would not allow them to set a new precedent for breaking decorum.

In the days since, conservative figures have demanded Johnson, Jones and Pearson be removed, with many drawing a false equivalent between last week’s protest and the Jan. 6, 2021 siege at the nation’s Capitol.

House Minority Leader Karen Camper described her Democratic colleagues’ actions as “good trouble,” a nod to late U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ guiding principal on civil disobedience.

“When I saw thousands of people — mostly children and teenagers — protesting and demanding action from us after the slaying of six innocent people, including three 9-year-old children, it was impossible to sit idly by and continue with business as usual,” Pearson wrote in a letter to House members on Monday.

House Democrats, who number just 23 vs. 75 Republicans, say the GOP is more eager to take action against colleagues than address gun access and other systemic issues that led to the fatal shooting in Nashville.

Three Republicans members filed resolutions to expel Johnson, Jones and Justin and successfully set the deciding vote for Thursday.

Pearson and Jones are both first-term lawmakers. Johnson has served in the House since 2019 after previously being elected to the chamber for a term in 2013. All three have been highly critical of GOP leadership.

As scrutiny over the expulsion effort increased, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday criticized Republican lawmakers’ focus on rebuking Democrats for protesting rather than addressing solutions to avoid another school shooting.

“What did the Republican legislators do? They’re trying to expel these three Democratic legislators who joined in the protest,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that GOP members are “shrugging in the face of yet another tragic school shooting while our kids continue to pay the price.”

Expulsions in the Tennessee General Assembly are extremely rare and considered an extraordinary action.

In 2019, lawmakers faced pressure to expel former Republican Rep. David Byrd after he faced accusations of sexual misconduct dating to when he was a high school basketball coach three decades ago.

At the time, Sexton said it was up to Byrd to decide whether he should continue in the Legislature.

“You have to balance the will of the voters and overturning the will of the voters,” Sexton told WPLN in 2019, noting that the allegations at issue dated from 30 years earlier.

Byrd decided not to run for re-election in 2022.

Johnson criticized the GOP for failing to expel Byrd while going after three members for merely speaking without permission.

Under Tennessee’s constitution, the House or Senate can punish lawmakers for disorderly behavior and expel them with a two-thirds vote.

Often, expulsions have centered on a criminal conviction. Tennessee’s state law and Constitution disqualify convicted felons from holding public office.

Last year, the state Senate expelled Democrat Katrina Robinson after she was convicted of using about $3,400 in federal grant money on wedding expenses instead of her nursing school.

Before that case, state lawmakers last ousted a House member in 2016 when the chamber voted 70-to-2 remove Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham after an attorney general’s investigation detailed allegations of improper sexual contact with at least 22 women during his four years in office.

If Johnson, Jones or Pearson are expelled, the county commissions in their districts would get to pick replacements to serve until a special election in several months. The three would remain eligible to run in those.

United States News

Associated Press

Man gets 37-year sentence for kidnapping FBI employee in South Dakota

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — One of three people convicted of carjacking and kidnapping an FBI employee in South Dakota has been sentenced to 37 years in prison. Juan Alvarez-Sorto, 25, was sentenced Friday in federal court, the Rapid City Journal reported. Alvarez-Sorto and Deyvin Morales, 29, were found guilty in January. Alvarez-Sorto also was […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan attorney general to announce charges in investigation of former top lawmaker

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Prosecutors plan to announce charges Tuesday in an investigation of the former leader of the Michigan House, the attorney general’s office said. Attorney General Dana Nessel is scheduled to speak to reporters in the state capital at 2 p.m. EDT. An email from Nessel’s office didn’t indicate who is being charged. […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame manager who led St. Louis Cardinals to 3 pennants, dies at 92

NEW YORK (AP) — Whitey Herzog, the gruff and ingenious Hall of Fame manager who guided the St. Louis Cardinals to three pennants and a World Series title in the 1980s and perfected an intricate, nail-biting strategy known as “Whiteyball,” has died. He was 92. Cardinals spokesman Brian Bartow said Tuesday the team had been […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Texas fined $100,000 per day for failing to act on foster care abuse allegations

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — A federal judge is fining Texas $100,000 per day for routinely neglecting to adequately investigate allegations of abuse and neglect raised by children in the state’s struggling foster care system. U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack in Corpus Christi ruled Monday that the Texas Health and Human Services agency has […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Microsoft invests $1.5 billion in AI firm G42, overseen by UAE’s national security adviser

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft is investing $1.5 billion in a technology firm based in the United Arab Emirates and overseen by the country’s powerful national security adviser. Microsoft and the technology holding company G42 announced the deal Tuesday. As part of the agreement, Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, will join G42’s board of directors. The […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Federal appeals court overturns West Virginia transgender sports ban

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has overturned a West Virginia transgender sports ban, finding that the law violates Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools. The 2-1 ruling Tuesday from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocks a West Virginia law banning transgender girls from […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Double standard? Tennessee GOP seeks to oust 3 Democrats