Last week, a group of Senate Democrats called on the Department of Justice to look into the expulsion of two Tennessee lawmakers.
On Wednesday, Democrat Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Alex Padilla (Calif.), and Brian Schatz (Hawaii) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to launch a probe into the expulsion of Tennessee state Reps. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) and Justin Jones (D-Nashville). The lawmakers argued that the Department needed to employ “all available legal authorities” to determine whether their removal had been a violation of the Constitution or federal civil rights laws.
They further pointed out that the recent school shooting at the Nashville Covenant School had prompted three Democrat lawmakers, Jones, Pearson, and state Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), to join the protests calling for greater gun control. The shooting resulted in the death of three adults and three 9-year-old children. They added that their participation in protest followed “America’s long tradition of peaceful, non-violent protest, perfected during the struggles and triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement.”
They further proceeded to denounce the expulsion claiming it was undemocratic and pointing out that it was an unprecedented move for a member to be expelled for violating house procedures and that typically that is the route taken for ethical or criminal misconduct. They further argued that “silencing” lawmakers because of their opposing views or participation in a protest is “antithetical to American democracy and values” and that the move to have them removed set a bad precedent.