Second Tennessee Democrat Reinstated to State House

Daniel Perodin, Staff Writer

On April 12, Justin Pearson, a Democrat from Shelby County, Tennessee, was reappointed to his role as representative in the Tennessee House. Pearson was one of two Democratic lawmakers expelled from the Tennessee House on April 6

Expulsion had only been used twice since the Civil War before Jones’ and Pearson’s expulsion. The expulsion came after Pearson, Justin Jones, and Gloria Johnson led a protest on the floor of the Tennessee House calling for gun control legislation in the wake of the Covenant School shooting. Following the protest, a vote was held to expel all three lawmakers. While Johnson was able to retain her position as representative, Pearson and Jones were expelled. Many Democrats accused the Republican-led house of being racist against Jones and Pearson, since they are the youngest Black representatives in Tennessee, and Johnson – who was not expelled – is white. 

Justin Jones was reappointed on April 10 by a unanimous vote of 32-0 of the Nashville City Council. Pearson was reinstated unanimously as well by a vote of 7-0 in favor of reinstatement from the Shelby County Board of Commissioners.

Pearson and Jones will have to win their special elections in November 2024 to keep their seats in the long-term. The odds seem to be in their favor, as their districts have a strong Democratic base.