Last night’s racist, anti-democratic expulsion of two Black lawmakers left 130,000 Tennesseans without representation in their House of Representatives.
In the wake of a tragic school shooting, lawmakers in Tennessee’s rightwing supermajority ignored the outcry from students and their parents and refused to consider popular, effective gun safety policies that would make their communities safer—and that are supported by 85% of Americans and a majority of Tennessee parents. But when Representatives Jones and Pearson used their voices to stand up for the people they represent, the only action that the rightwing supermajority took was to expel the Black lawmakers who participated in the peaceful protest.
By stripping two state lawmakers along completely partisan lines for the first time in the state’s history, Tennessee’s rightwing unlocked a new level in their attack on democracy. They showed just how far a rightwing state legislative supermajority could go, even while the world is watching, to disenfranchise voters.
The rightwing now has a new, dangerous blueprint for silencing elected representatives who they disagree with, regardless of who the voters choose. It’s a reminder that state legislatures are where the fight for our democracy is happening — that’s where we have to focus.
Preventing anti-democratic power grabs like the one we witnessed last night is why The States Project fights to build governing power for state lawmakers who will protect our democracy in state legislatures across this country — and while we’ve made progress, it’s clear that there’s still much work to be done.