2nd Expelled Tennessee Lawmaker Is Reinstated

Board voted 7-0 to appoint Justin Pearson to state House seat before special election
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2023 2:41 PM CDT
2nd Expelled Tennessee Lawmaker Is Reinstated
Justin Pearson and his fianc? Oceana Gillian arrive at the Shelby County Board of Commissioners building in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.   (Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal via AP)

The second of two Democratic lawmakers expelled from the state legislature last week has now been reinstated. The Shelby County Board of Commissioners voted 7-0 Wednesday to reappoint Rep. Justin J. Pearson to his seat in the state House of Representatives, NPR reports. The AP reports that Pearson marched through Memphis with hundreds of supporters on his way to the vote. "The message for all the people in Nashville who decided to expel us: You can’t expel hope. You can’t expel justice. You can’t expel our voice. And you sure can’t expel our fight," he said at the Shelby County Board of Commissioners meeting,

Pearson and Rep. Justin Jones, who returned to the legislature Monday, were expelled by the legislature's Republican supermajority for their roles in a protest calling for stronger gun control laws. State law allows local legislative bodies to appoint interim members to fill expelled members' seats until an election can take place. As such, the men return as interim members and are both expected to run—and win—in special elections for their seats.

Political analyst Otis Sanford says the expulsion has raised the profiles of both men and could lead to young people getting more involved in state politics. Jones and Pearson "showed the voters in their districts exactly why they should be reelected," Sanford tells WKNO. "But also, it seems like they made themselves look like future political stars nationally. (More Tennessee stories.)

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