Tennessee Democratic Rep. Justin Jones called on state House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) to resign hours after the Nashville Metro Council voted to reappoint him to the state House on Monday, with a 36–0 vote.
“Today is an important step forward for democracy, but it’s not the end. They tried to kill democracy last Thursday,” Jones told MSNBC’s Joy Reid Monday night. “We will continue to show up here in the legislature because [Speaker] Cameron Sexton needs to resign.”
Jones’ public reappointment came just days after he and his Democratic colleague, former Rep. Justin Pearson of Memphis — both of whom are young, Black men — were expelled by the Republican-led House for participating in a peaceful gun protest from the floor of the chamber. Rep. Gloria Johnson (D), a white woman, also participated in the protest, but survived the vote to expel last week. The protest came in the wake of the Nashville school shooting that left six people — three children and three school personnel — dead.
In a separate interview Monday night, Jones called Sexton “the greatest enemy to our democracy” and renewed his public call for the state House speaker to resign.
“We don’t need a speaker who shuts off microphones, who cuts off members from speaking, who won’t even let us vote if we go join those protesting,” he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “We have a speaker who represents the opposite of democracy, which is autocracy. And he is not fit to serve in that role.”
Jones added that the Tennessee Republicans are “drunk and arrogant with power.”
“Their attacks may have been successful in the past but this is a new day, a new time in Tennessee. And there is a new movement rising up,” he said.
Pearson, the other Democrat who was expelled, will also have to go through a vote in his respective district, the Shelby County Commission, to be reappointed to his seat.
The vote to reappoint Pearson is scheduled for Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Meanwhile, as Jones and Pearson waited for their possible reappointments on Monday morning, their legal teams sent a letter to House Speaker Sexton warning him not to interfere with their possible upcoming reappointments.
“The world is watching Tennessee. Any partisan retributive action, such as the discriminatory treatment of elected officials, or threats or actions to withhold funding for government programs, would constitute further unconstitutional action that would require redress,” the letter read. “Should they be reappointed, we expect that these Representatives will return immediately to full status as members of the Tennessee General Assembly…”
Read the letter here: