20,000 signatures reached
To: Attorney General Merrick Garland
Investigate Tennessee Republicans & Reinstate Tennessee Reps!
The Department of Justice should investigate Tennessee Republicans for violating 1st Amendment rights and wrongfully expelling two Democrats—and Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson should be reinstated immediately!
Why is this important?
Tennessee Republicans abused their power this week by expelling Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson for speaking out about gun violence amid the protests following a deadly massacre in Nashville. Furthermore, by expelling two Black members of the state legislature, Republicans continued a long history of racist attacks against Black legislators. And, in doing so, they violated Rep. Jones and Rep. Person's first amendment rights and violated the law.
The Department of Justice should immediately investigate these actions—and Representatives Jones and Pearson should be reinstated, while House Republican leadership should be held accountable for these racially-motivated, authoritarian, anti-democratic actions.
It's well established in America that legislators have a right to speak out on issues in the public domain. This is all that Reps. Pearson and Jones—along with their white colleague Rep. Gloria Johnson—were doing in a peaceful manner that met the stakes of the moment while remaining true to democratic principles of civil discourse.
By punishing the two Black representatives—and notably not expelling their white colleague—the Tennessee Republicans abused their power, acted in a long racist tradition, and likely violated their rights. At the same time, they violated the trust of hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who are deprived representation.
The Department of Justice has a responsibility to investigate such actions and whether they violate civil rights, first amendment protections, and the principles of our democracy.