A group of Democratic senators led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Raphael Warnock have requested a DOJ investigation into the expulsion of two black Tennessee state representatives by state House Republicans.
The Senators wrote in part to Attorney General Merrick Garland
People of all goodwill in Tennessee and across America and are deeply disturbed by these
counter-democratic expulsions because they overturn and subvert the will of Tennessee voters in
Nashville and Memphis. Many in the Tennessee legislature appear to have convinced themselves
that The People’s House is their house, and they have effectively evicted the districts’ voters out
of their own house. This is un-democratic, un-American, and unacceptable, and the U.S.
Department of Justice should investigate whether it was also unlawful or unconstitutional.
In light of this serious threat to our democracy, I urge you to prioritize all investigations into any
violations of rights under federal law or the U.S. Constitution posed by the expulsions of the
In particular, I urge you to immediately investigate whether actions by the
Tennessee state legislature violate any constitutional rights, including:
1. Any rights of tens of thousands of Tennessee citizens in Memphis and Nashville to be
represented by the legislators of their choice, whether under Article IV, Section 4
(guaranteeing to the states a Republican form of government) or other authorities;
2. Any rights of Representatives Jones and Pearson under the Fourteenth Amendment or its
enforcing civil rights statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race; and
3. Any rights of Representatives Jones and Pearson under the First Amendment protecting
the right of speech and assembly.
We are deeply concerned that without immediate action by the U.S. Department of Justice,
antidemocratic actors will only be emboldened, and we will see more troubling and more
frequent incidents meant to unravel our democratic fabric.
For More Stories Like This, Subscribe To Our Newsletter:
The Senators have the DOJ until April 28th to respond.
It is an interesting question. Did the expulsions infringe on the constitutional rights of Tennessee citizens? Did it violate the constitutional rights of Jones and Pearson? It doesn’t matter if both Jones and reappointed to office.
The actions of the Tennesee Republicans were intended to have a chilling effect on future protests and dissent.
What Tennessee Republicans did was undemocratic, and it may turn out to have also been unconstitutional.