House GOP members vote to silence Democratic house member

Democrats walk out of session after members voted to not allow Rep. Justin Jones to speak for the rest of the day.
Democrats walk out of session after members voted to not allow Rep. Justin Jones to speak for the rest of the day.
Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 11:18 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Protests erupted outside of the house chambers Monday afternoon GOP House members voting to no longer allow Rep. Justin Jones to speak for the remainder of the day’s session.

“Protect kids, not guns! Protect kids, not guns!” said protesters outside of the House chambers.

House Democrats walked out together during the session after Jones, D-Nashville, was ruled out of order twice citing Jones was not speaking about the current bill. The house voted to not allow him to speak for the remainder of Monday’s House session.

“We had to walk out number one to show support for our member. We had to walk out to show support to people in that gallery,” said House Minority Leader Karen Camper, D-Memphis.

Camper told the media there was an unfair application of the rules after a Republican house member was ruled out of order twice but it didn’t go up for a vote.

“We had another member Rep. (Gino) Bulso who got preferable treatment over the Democrat and they need to stop this silencing of these people’s voices,” said Camper.

Bulso is a Republican representative from Brentwood.

People in the House gallery were visibly upset over the legislature’s actions.

“They’re attempt to silence me was not about me but it was about the people of my district, and if they can silence one member, they can silence all of us,” said Jones.

The Senate was wrapping up with their session when people were protesting.

For the past five days of the special session, community members along with Covenant School parents have shown up in the galleries frustrated with state leaders not accomplishing much when it comes to public safety. Blame for not addressing public safety issues has been shuffled back and forth between the House and Senate.

“I hope that the House will realize that we’re serious about having conversations about their legislation between now and January,” said Senate Republican Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin “There are some really good bills that the house has brought forward. We just don’t think that it’s time during a special session, which lasts a few days, to properly vet those bills.”

Director of Communications Doug Kufner provided a statement on behalf of Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton on the vote to silence Jones for the day.

“The House rules were voted on by members at the start of the special session and adopted by the legislative body. The body has the ability to affirm or deny the speaker’s decision to rule Rep. Jones out of order. The body affirmed the speaker’s decision,” the statement reads.

“We’re united against this extremist and this anti-democratic behavior, and the people have the right to be in the people’s house,” said Jones.

The House passed 10 bills Monday before it adjourned. Senate leaders ended their session after less than 30 minutes passing no bills.

So far, the House has passed 18 bills while the Senate has passed four bills.