The Nashville Metro Council voted to reappoint Tennessee Democratic Rep. Justin Jones to the state House on Monday, with a 36–0 vote.
As the council started its session, protestors, gathered inside and outside the meeting room, could be heard singing and chanting in support of Jones.
Jones and his Democratic colleague, former Rep. Justin Pearson of Memphis — both of whom are young, Black men — were expelled on Thursday by the Republican-led House for participating in a peaceful gun protest from the floor of the chamber. The protest came in the wake of the Nashville school shooting that left six people — three children and three school personnel — dead.
During the protest, Jones, Pearson and Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville — an older white woman, who survived the GOP-led attempt to oust the trio — joined a group of demonstrators, made up mostly of teachers, children and parents holding signs. The group packed the Capitol building and the House gallery and chanted, calling for gun restrictions. Jones, Johnson and Pearson cheered on the protestors from the front of the House chamber with a bullhorn.
In response, state Republicans claimed the lawmakers in question “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions” and voted to oust Jones and Pearson.
After the protests, House leadership also made bad faith and over-the-top comparisons, likening the trio’s behavior to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Their comparison and the expulsion of the two Black members led to staunch criticism from Democrats around the country, including the White House.
Shortly after the expulsion was official, Pearson and Jones’s profiles were deleted from the Tennessee General Assembly’s website and their districts were listed as vacant.
Tennessee law allows for the appointment of an interim House member to fill the seats of expelled lawmakers until an election is held. With today’s vote, the Nashville Metro council appointed Jones back to his seat.
The same process is expected to take place for Pearson in his respective district, overseen by the Shelby County Commission.
The vote to reappoint Pearson is scheduled for Wednesday at 2:30 pm EST.
As Jones and Pearson waited for their possible reappointments, their legal teams sent a letter to House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) on Monday 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…”