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Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones files federal lawsuit against Speaker of State House who oversaw his ousting

<i>George Walker IV/AP</i><br/>Speaker Cameron Sexton and other state House officials are named in the lawsuit.
George Walker IV/AP
Speaker Cameron Sexton and other state House officials are named in the lawsuit.

By Devon M. Sayers, CNN

(CNN) — Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones, who was expelled from the chamber earlier this year, has filed a federal lawsuit against Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton and other House officials, alleging his constitutional rights have been repeatedly violated, court records show.

The federal lawsuit filed in the Middle District of Tennessee alleges Jones’ federal and state constitution rights have been violated by efforts of the defendants to block Jones “from expressing views on critical issues.”

Jones is seeking a court order that would block the Speaker of the House from preventing Jones from speaking on the House floor, reinstate his committee appointments and expunge and declare his removal unconstitutional.

The state House chief clerk, chief sergeant at arms, and assistant chief clerk and parliamentarian are named as co-defendants.

“The people of District 52 deserve to have their voices heard without the threat of undemocratic silencing and retaliation,” Jones said on X.

CNN has reached out to Sexton’s office but has not received any reply.

In April, Jones was removed from his seat as the representative for Nashville-area District 52 in the Tennessee House after he and two other Democrats – Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson – called for gun reform during a protest on the House floor following the March 27 shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville. The attack on the Covenant School left three 9-year-olds and three adults dead.

In voting to expel the lawmakers, the GOP supermajority had cited breaches of decorum. Pearson, who is Black, was also removed from his seat. Johnson, a White woman, also faced an expulsion vote, but was not ousted.

Jones and Pearson were re-appointed to their seats shortly after being removed and won the seats back in a special election.

In August, Jones was twice ruled out of order during debate by Sexton, automatically triggering a vote to silence Jones for the remainder of the day. The vote passed along party lines, 70-20, and Democrats walked out in protest.

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