NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee leaders were inundated with calls Friday from across the country, asking them to reinstate Justin Jones following his expulsion from the House of Representatives. It’s a move that the majority of Metro Council members support and one that could come Monday.
Jones was expelled from his District 52 seat on Thursday, April 6 after he and two other representatives, Gloria Johnson and Justin Pearson, led chants on the House floor during a gun violence protest last week.
“We will return, whether we’re inside the chamber or outside of it,” Jones told supporters in the Legislative Plaza following his expulsion.
If all lines up, this may just be an extended weekend for Jones.
“He could be back in the House chamber Monday night,” Vice Mayor Jim Shulman told News 2.
The decision as to who will be the interim successor for District 52 lies in the hands of the Metro Council.
“It’s just a simple majority,” said Shulman.
Shulman has taken the first step by calling a special meeting, but several more steps are required to reinstate Jones in the interim, if he is willing to be nominated. The next step in expediting the process involves a council vote to suspend the rules.
“As long as two people don’t object, then the council can suspend the rules, and then if the rules are suspended, if the council so chooses, we can consider the immediate election of Rep. Jones to go back to the House of Representatives,” Shulman explained. “If we get objections, then we would go through the normal rule 49 process, which would be the announcement of the vacancy and then a period of time — four weeks, at least four weeks — and then we can have a meeting.”
At least two dozen council members have already voiced their support to reappoint Jones, which is enough to do it.
“The last I heard, it was 24 members who’ve said they want to put him back on. That’s the majority,” said Shulman.
Many council members have been posting on social media about reappointing Jones, including Bob Mendes, Emily Benedict, Tom Cash, and Brett Withers
“We’re not going to settle for this,” District 19 Council Member Freddie O’Connell told News 2.
According to Shulman, it sounds like a complicated process, but it’s not. He said that Metro Council is just one part of the process, with state actions to follow.
“I don’t know when the governor has to call the election. I’m not sure of the procedures that are involved. If we vote Rep. Jones back into that seat on Monday, I think he has to be sworn in. I don’t know the process,” Shuman said, adding that officials are looking into those next steps.
If Jones is appointed, he would hold the interim position until a special election is held, in which he would then have to run for re-election.
Jones reactivated his campaign fundraising page for the District 52 seat within hours of his expulsion from the House on Thursday.
The special meeting is set for 4:30 p.m. Monday.
“If we act fairly, promptly and suspend the rules, we could have him appointed by 4:45 and he’ll be back by 5,” Shulman explained.