A lot of current events are swirling around us right now, and I have strong feelings about a lot of issues. From the ongoing violence in Israel during Passover and Ramadan to a federal judge rolling back 23 years of precedent on mifepristone.
But the news item I’ll discuss this week is the Tennessee House of Representatives choosing to expel two members because they participated in a protest asking for stricter gun-control measures in the wake of the school shooting in Nashville on March 27th.
Representative Justin Jones of Nashville (D) and Representative Justin Pearson of Memphis (D) were both expelled from their elected posts by the Republican majority after demanding action on gun control.
Representative Gloria Johnson of Knoxville (D) was not expelled, but only because of one vote in her favor. Rep. Johnson has been quite clear in her statements since the vote occurred that she believes the difference comes down to race. She is an older white woman, while Justin Jones and Justin Pearson are both young men of color.
The so-called “Tennessee Three” were, admittedly, being outspoken about the Tennessee legislature’s failure to tackle meaningful reforms following a horrific tragedy in that state. Instead, Tennessee politicians seem to feel their time is better spent persecuting transgender kids and drag queens.
The fact that the Legislature can vote to expel members because the majority doesn’t like their politics is a dangerous precedent. If these individuals had threatened their colleagues with violence, been convicted of a crime, or were derelict in their duties, would they have been ousted?
Probably not. After all, Justice Clarence Thomas can accept an all-expenses-paid, 9-day trip to Indonesia that would have cost him $500,000.00 to pay for from “a close friend” without facing the possibility of losing his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here in New Jersey, Senator Robert Menendez (D) has been indicted repeatedly, and he’s still sent to Washington, D.C. as our senior U.S. Senator.
And the Tangerine Nightmare can be indicted on 34 felony counts while still being a candidate for his party’s Presidential nomination.
But, heaven forbid that a couple of uppity activists and a retired teacher in Tennessee demand that their colleagues protect young children. These protests occurred after one of their Republican colleagues, Rep. Burchett, opined, “We’re not gonna fix it.” (Meaning school shootings.)
And yes, I know “uppity” is a racially charged word. No, none of the Tennessee GOP have used it in front of the cameras, but I’m certain they’re thinking it. Just like I’m certain they’re slinging horribly disparaging descriptions of Rep. Johnson’s age, sex, and weight around behind closed doors. Because that’s who they are.
No, three members of the House of Representatives standing with citizens and protesting the legislature’s inaction to protect children from being murdered in their schools is a bridge that’s just too damned far. Those liberal activists are disrespectful of white male power and privilege and need to be punished.
One bright spot in this story is that the Metro Council of Nashville has already voted that Rep. Jones will be their interim representative until the next election. I’m hoping that Memphis will do the same for Rep. Pearson.
And, if you’re looking for some additional feel-good political news, let’s all celebrate the 11-point margin in the Wisconsin State Supreme Court election where a MAGA Republican lost. State Supreme Court Justice-elect Janet Protasiewicz winning her election gives the State Supreme Court a Democratic majority for the first time in 15 years. Hopefully, that will allow them to address issues like gerrymandering and other voting issues.
We can also look to Nebraska state Senator Michaela Cavanaugh as a bright light in the political darkness. She staged a 3-day filibuster on a bill about liquor taxes that had unanimous support so she could attack a pending bill that would outlaw gender-affirming therapies for those under the age of 18.
She’s ground the Nebraska legislature’s activities to a near-standstill by offering amendments on every bill that makes it to the floor. You can read more about her work, including speaking with strep throat, here.
Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash