Elected Officials expulsion is a Clear Attack on Democracy


Photo from Politico of the Tennessee three who were up for expulsion for protesting on the House floor. Only the two to the left were expelled.

Ella Bisson

   Democracy is being tested in states like Florida and Tennessee where elected officials are being arrested and kicked out of office for protesting with the very people they were elected to serve. 

   According to AP News, Democrat Representatives Gloria Johnson, Justine Jones, and Justin Pearson had resolutions filed against them after they led chants from the House floor with protestors in the gallery. This move came after the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee where 6 people were left dead, 3 of whom were children. Hundreds gathered at Tennessee’s Capitol in protest against gun violence, urging the officials to respond to the mass shooting crisis. According to NPR, Rep Johnson, Jones, and Pearson said they spoke out to “amplify the voices of protesters and their constituents.”

The Tennessee House only expelled the two black representatives, a move that doesn’t even try to conceal racism. Representative Johnson, who escaped expulsion, said that the reason she wasn’t expelled was because “It might have to do with the color of our skin.”

   Hypocrisy is alive and well in the Republican Party as they voted to expel Representatives Jones and Pearson while members of their own party who are under federal investigation or even found guilty of domestic violence did not face expulsion. “We had a member pee in another member’s chair … no expulsion. In fact, they are even in leadership,” said Representative Jones. Thankfully, Representative Jones was unanimously reinstated by the Nashville council, a likely outcome for Representative Pearson as well.

   Here in Florida, State Senator Lauren Book and Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried were arrested along with 9 others on trespassing charges for protesting the 6 week abortion ban after sundown in Tallahassee. Although this was a peaceful protest, the reasoning behind the arrests was because the city ordinance prohibited camping out overnight in downtown parks according to the Orlando Sentinel. However, the space they were protesting, the plaza outside of City Hall, is not what one would normally call a park. This was a clear effort to silence pro-choice voices.

   It is our constitutional right to protest and it is dangerous that obstacles are being put in the way of even our elected officials being able to voice their outrage. Representatives should be able to speak out for the people they represent without fear of being kicked out of their seat. While their representatives in Tennessee knew they were breaking the rules, they weren’t disrupting any processes because they were in recess. They were supposed to be met with censure not expulsion but Republicans saw this as a way to limit the voices of their opposition by taking away Democrat’s representation in the Tennessee legislature. The problem isn’t the fact that these officials broke rules, it is the fact that these rules are there in the first place. Citizen’s of this country should not be limited in their protest, something Florida Republicans can’t seem to comprehend. They continue to try and pass laws against protesting to limit the voices against them. These representatives who spoke out for their constituents are doing their job and making every person they represent proud.