Calling Tennessee Republican lawmakers “extremists,” members of the Alabama House Democratic Caucus issued a statement saying they were proud to stand with two Tennessee House Democratic members who were expelled last week in the wake of protests over gun regulations following a school shooting in Nashville.
Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled from the body following a contentious several days. Both Jones and Pearson are Black. A third Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white, narrowly avoided expulsion.
“The Alabama House Democratic Caucus stands in solidarity with our colleagues in the Tennessee General Assembly who courageously protested Republican inaction in the wake of the recent school shooting in Nashville that left 6 dead, including 3 nine year-olds,” the statement from the Alabama House members read. “The fact that the two legislators who were black, Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, were expelled is not lost upon us. We commend Representative Gloria Johnson for using her platform to support her colleagues.”
Alabama Democratic lawmakers, who also find themselves in a super-minority in the state legislature, certainly understand the struggle of their colleagues in Tennessee. While the first few weeks of the 2023 legislative session in Alabama has been cordial, there have been a number of partisan fights in recent years in which Alabama Republicans have used their supermajority to push through controversial legislations – that typically ends up being deemed unconstitutional by a federal court – against the boisterous objections of Alabama Democrats.
“In Alabama, we stand with the 7,000 Tennessee citizens who marched on their state capitol,” the statement read. “We are appalled that Tennessee Republicans deprived the voters of two legislative districts of representation in their state legislature, and excluded their voices along with the expelled members. Votes are sacred in America. Inviolable. If a district duly elects someone to represent it in a state capitol, that choice must be honored. But today, in Tennessee, extremists took that away.”
The statement from the Alabama Dems also seems to suggest that the fight for gun regulations could make an appearance in the Alabama Legislature this session.
“Americans want their lawmakers to act on common sense gun safety reforms that we know will make our communities safer,” the statement read. “Instead, like in Tennessee, we’ve seen Republicans continue to advance bills, like permitless concealed carry, that have turned our schools, churches, and communities into battlegrounds. We will not be silenced or stand by as our colleagues are silenced. It’s time to act before more Alabama children die.”
State lawmakers went back and forth for several days during the 2022 session over permitless carry. The bill was highly controversial, with law enforcement officers across the state siding with Democrats and saying the law change would make them less safe.
The bill ultimately passed on a party-line vote in both chambers.