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Both ousted Tennessee House reps have been reinstated

Nashville’s Metro Council voted unanimously to reinstate Rep. Justin Jones to the Tennessee House. Shelby County Board of Commissioners also voted unanimously to reinstate Rep. Justin Pearson back to the Legislature

SHARE Both ousted Tennessee House reps have been reinstated
Tennessee State Rep. Justin Pearson reads a newspaper article on April 12, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn.

Tennessee State Rep. Justin Pearson reads a newspaper article in the Vasco A. Smith Jr. County Administration Building, Wednesday, April 12, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn. Hundreds of supporters marched Pearson through Memphis to the Shelby County Board of Commissioners meeting, chanting and cheering before entering the commission chambers, where officials quickly voted 7-0 to restore him to his position.

Patrick Lantrip, Daily Memphian via Associated Press

Both lawmakers who were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives last week have now been voted to be reinstated to their positions in the Legislature.

On Monday, Nashville’s Metro Council voted for former Rep. Justin Jones to return to his post in the Legislature immediately — but on an interim basis to fill his now vacant seat, The Associated Press reported.

Shelby County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to reinstate Rep. Justin Pearson to the House on Wednesday.

Why were Justin Jones, Justin Pearson voted out of the Tennessee House?

Hundreds of students and parents marched to the Capitol to protest in favor of tougher gun laws in the state. During the protests on March 30. Jones, Pearson and Rep. Gloria Johnson “took to the state House floor to advocate for gun control, using a bullhorn to address their colleagues and protesters,” according to CNN.

Following the protest, the Republican-majority House argued the trio had broken decorum and three requested to put them up for expulsion. Last Thursday, Jones and Pearson were voted out by the party-line majority, and Johnson was one vote shy of expulsion, the Deseret News reported.

Justin Jones reinstated in the House

The 36 council members voted unanimously to reinstate Jones, NBC News reported.

“Today we are sending a resounding message that democracy will not be killed in the comfort of silence,” Jones said after the vote, per CNN.

The seven Democrats on the Shelby County Board of Commissioners voted to reinstate Pearson after receiving “thousands of emails and calls from around the county, the country and the world, pleading with them to reappoint Mr. Pearson,” The New York Times reported.

“I want to commend you for standing up for the things that matter to the people of Shelby County and the state of Tennessee,” Commissioner Shante Avant said to Pearson at Wednesday’s board hearing, per the Times. “You have done well by us in making sure that our voices can be heard.”

Jones and Pearson were both reinstated on an interim basis, but in order to serve a full-elected term, each will have to campaign and run again for the elected position in a special election to be held in coming months.