But Republican majority overreached by expelling two lawmakers for staging floor protest
On April 6, the Republican-controlled Tennessee lower house expelled two African American Democrat members of their body for staging an anti-gun protest on the House floor in Nashville and disrupting proceedings; a third Democrat lawmaker, whom the media noted is a white female, survived expulsion by one vote.
Although the GOP supermajority acted within the legislature’s rules, this incident is creating outrage in the liberal media and among Democrats nationwide, eager to deflect from the pressing economic problems their party is unable to solve, and to keep African American voters engaged for the upcoming elections. It’s pitiful the media and Democrats have turned this into a racial issue, but that’s what they do.
Stopping a governing body from preforming its lawful duty with an unlawful mob, and a bullhorn, as the legislators did on March 30 is wrong — and it was wrong for what some Trump did on 1/6/21, and what leftists did by camping out at the homes of Supreme Court justices due to the June 2022 Dobbs decision.
Those who violated the House floor in Nashville should face criminal charges in the same manner as the 1/6/21 rioters – and it’s horrible the Democrat authorities in the DC area refused to prosecute those who illegally tried to influence the Justices at their houses.
From what I see of the two legislators who were expelled in Tennessee, they are activists by nature and brought too much of that into the lower House in Nashville. Justin Jones, 27, was one of the youngest members of the legislature and represented about 70,000 residents in the Nashville metro area, CBS News reported
Justin Pearson, 28, was only elected in a January 2023 special election after the incumbent died. He represented the state’s 86th district, which has about 64,000 residents and is part of Shelby County, where Memphis is located. A report indicates the Memphis Council has the authority to appoint him to be an interim delegate until a special election is called.
Activism has clearly overtaken the Democratic Party in the worst ways and has seeped into all-too-many policy areas on the national, state and local level to the detriment of the country. Activism has its place, but elected officials have to temper their activism and be “leaders.”
I was too much of an activist myself in my early years on the Leesburg Town Council, and soon learned soon enough there was a limit to being an activist (and loudmouth) when one is in an elected role. Unfortunately, these two young delegates were ejected vs. being taken to the woodshed.
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican, and members of “The Squad” on the Democratic side of the U.S. House, also bring excessive activism to their jobs, only to get publicity (and the residual: campaign contributions). Greene and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) were removed from certain committees – not expelled, but it takes a 2/3 vote by the House to do that, under the Constitution.
Republicans in Nashville, essentially, used a sledgehammer to punish these legislators instead of a fly swatter simply because they had the votes to do it. This was an overreach and they were too narrowly focused on the incident without realizing (1) Tennessee law allows them to return to their jobs in a special election and (2) not be expelled again for the same incident. So, this means Pearson and Jones can come back and do the bullhorn protest again, and not be expelled; (3) how this was going to play on the national level, creating two martyrs for the Left to continue their war to wipe out conservativism.
A better sanction would have been to remove them from committees, take away staff and budgets for a period of time.
This is a similar overreach that Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg did in indicting former President Trump on stretched charges, which has only helped Trump’s campaign in the polls and financially — although. In my view, Trump being our nominee in 2024 only dooms Republican chances.
In Virginia, we have the same law to allow a two-thirds majority to expel a member of the House or Senate. However, we do not allow recalls for state delegates and senators.
In 2020-21, citizens petitioned a Virginia circuit court to order a recall election for Democrat State Sen. Louise Lucas (D) for interfering with Portsmouth police when a mob tried to take down a Confederate monument in the city. The citizens worked tirelessly through the pandemic to collect the requisite signatures, but the court threw it out because Virginia law only allows State Senators to expel a member, and on a two-thirds vote.
In addition, as our states and communities become more homogenous politically, we stand a great chance of seeing supermajorities of one party or the other having the ability to throw someone out of the chamber just because they don’t like them.
Former ABC News correspondent and commentator Jeff Greenfield writes in Politico that this could become a new normal in politics: “What if a legislature decides to exercise power just because it can? Can it expel or refuse to seat a member for purely political reasons?
So, before Republicans start championing what the Tennessee House did as an “act of standing up to the Left,” we should ask the question — would we want those Democrat supermajority legislatures in Blue states expelling Republican lawmakers because they were disruptive or disagreeable? I think the answer is “no.”
The recall is the best way to go since it is grassroots based. If elected to the State Senate Nov. 7, I would support legislation to allow members of the General Assembly to face recall elections, subject to the same safeguards we now have for local and county elected officials. And, we need to narrow what legislators can do to expel and censure members, too.
For example, it was egregious for the Democrat House of Delegates to take two Republicans off committees in 2021, merely because they went to the Stop the Steal rally. There was no evidence they were inside the Capitol.
Throwing people out of office without a recall and issuing censure motions also may discourage people from running for office. I wrote a book about running for local and state office and how to serve. (The Six secrets to Winning Any Local Election – and Navigating Elected Office Once you Win), in which I encourage Americans to run. Candidates and electeds already face social media bullying and threats to themselves and their families.
On this issue, we have to focus on what is the Common Good, and less on what is best for our respective political camps.