Ousted Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones Calls For No-Confidence Vote For GOP House Speaker


Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones—a Democrat who was expelled from the GOP-run state House and quickly reinstated by voters—is calling for a vote of no confidence in House Speaker Cameron Sexton, accusing the Republican who participated in the effort to remove Jones of “leading our state down the path to failure, humiliation, and authoritarianism.”

Key Facts

In a tweet Monday, Jones listed 12 reasons why Sexton should face a no-confidence vote, including leading the effort to remove him and fellow state Rep. Justin Pearson (D) from the state House for staging a gun violence protest (Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white unlike Jones and Pearson, also participated in the protest, but wasn’t expelled).

He also accused Sexton of misrepresenting his residency as being Crossville when he lives in Nashville, which is outside his district, and then “defrauding” taxpayers by accepting a per-diem to drive from Crossville to the capitol (Jones provides no evidence of alleged fraud in his statement, but local media reports have scrutinized Sexton’s homes and per-diem).

Jones also said Sexton failed to hold one of his colleagues accountable for allegedly sexually harassing an intern and then relocated that intern using taxpayer funds (in March, the House’s Workplace Discrimination & Harassment Subcommittee completed an investigation that found State Rep. Scotty Campbell had violated policy, but he promptly resigned after those findings became public).

Jones also argued Sexton limited citizens’ ability to participate in debates by forbidding onlookers from bringing signs into the capitol, closing off areas of the capitol to just lobbyists, and calling “peaceful protests” at the capitol an “insurrection.”

Jones also argued that Sexton has been “continuing to silence” House members who disagree with him.

What To Watch For

How this vote of no-confidence proceeds. Because the legislature is controlled by a Republican majority, it appears unlikely this vote will be successful if it takes place. Even if it does pass, it would not oust Sexton from the speakership. There is no mechanism within the state House rules to remove a speaker from the position. However, with a two-thirds majority vote, the House can remove Sexton as a representative, though that too appears very unlikely with the Republican majority.

Key Background

In April, Jones and Pearson were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives after they and Johnson joined a group of protesters and led chants on the House floor demanding the legislature take action against gun violence. This came days following a deadly mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville that killed three 9-year-olds and three adults. Republicans subsequently voted to remove Jones and Pearson from the House over the incident, arguing that they violated house rules by staging the protest. Johnson was not expelled after the resolution seeking to remove her failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority. Days later, the Nashville Metropolitan Council, which is responsible for replacing any expelled House members representing Nashville, voted to reinstate Jones. The Shelby County Council promptly voted to reinstate Pearson as well. On Aug. 3, voters decided to re-elect both representatives.

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