Ousted Tennessee Democratic State Representative Justin Pearson claimed that voters in his district were “disenfranchised” by his expulsion.
Pearson made the comments in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” Pearson and fellow Democratic State Rep. Justin Jones were expelled from the Tennessee House last week after they used a bullhorn to lead chants on the House floor after gun control activists stormed the Tennessee State Capitol and interrupted the legislative session.
“The expulsion left your constituents, obviously, now without a representative in the state House,” host Jonathan Karl began. “The Shelby County Board of Commissioners will have to send a replacement for you. Are they going to send you? Can we see you reinstated as early as next week?”
“Yeah, I do hope to continue to serve District 86 and the reappointment. And if there is a special election, I would definitely run in the special election, because our voters have been disenfranchised. This is one of the greatest tactics of voter disenfranchisement and voter oppression that I have ever witnessed.”
“It is not only unprecedented, it is historical in nature,” Pearson continued. “It’s a historical abuse of power by [Tennessee House Speaker] Cameron Sexton and the supermajority of Republican [legislators] who would rather expel our voices and try to expel our people’s voices from the people’s house rather than address issue of gun violence and the need for gun safety reform legislation that could prevent people from dying in the first place.”
“But District 86, and our community, and District 52 as well, Representative Jones’ community, wants to see us to serve them and to speak up and to speak out when people like Cameron Sexton and the Republican leadership would rather be silent or silence Democrats and progressive voices.”
Former TN state Rep. Justin Pearson tells @JonKarl that he expects to be quickly reappointed after his "unprecedented" expulsion.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 9, 2023
Pearson was expelled by a vote of 69-26. Jones was ousted in a vote of 72-25. A third vote to expel Democrat Rep. Gloria Johnson failed by one vote. Johnson participated in the demonstration but did not use a bullhorn.
After the expulsion of Pearson, observers in the gallery started screaming at Republicans, with at least one protester shedding tears and shouting “shame.”
Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report.