ICYMI: New Lawsuit On Behalf of Rep. Jones Seeks To Fully Reinstate All His Rights, Duties And Privileges As An Elected Representative of The Tennessee House

October 4, 2023

Washington, D.C. – This week, counsel for Tennessee state Representative Justin Jones at Covington & Burling LLP and Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, PLLC filed a lawsuit requesting that Jones’ rights as a representative of the Tennessee State Legislature be fully restored and his expulsion from the Tennessee House this summer be declared unconstitutional. Repeatedly, Rep. Jones has been blocked from expressing views on critical issues that he was elected to express, amounting to an exercise of censorship that is anathema to a free, democratic society. Within months of his illegal expulsion, Rep. Jones was re-elected in an August 3rd special election with nearly 80 percent of the vote, and has returned to office for the remainder of the legislative term. But not all of his rights, duties and privileges of his office, including all committee assignments, have been restored. 

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Tennessee against Speaker of the Tennessee House Cameron Sexton, in his official capacity; Tammy Letzler, in her official capacity as Chief Clerk for the Tennessee House of Representatives,  Bobby Trotter, in his official capacity as Chief Sergeant at Arms for the Tennessee House of Representatives; and Daniel Hicks, in his official capacity as Assistant Chief Clerk and Parliamentarian for the Tennessee House of Representatives.

A copy of the complaint can be found HERE.

Through a trial by jury, Jones’ lawyers ask specifically for the court to:

  1. Declare that the expulsion of Representative Jones from the House violated the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Tennessee;
  2. Declare that Representative Jones’ unconstitutional and illegal expulsion will not have any effect on his rights, privileges or entitlements, up to and including loss of seniority, eligibility for committee appointments, or any benefits or entitlements provided to Representatives of the Tennessee State Legislature; 
  3. Declare that the “Permanent Rules of Order of the Tennessee House of Representatives, One Hundred Thirteenth General Assembly, First Extraordinary Session” are unconstitutional, in violation of the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech of the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Tennessee;
  4. Enjoin Defendants from punishing or in any way preventing Representative Jones from speaking on the floor of the House or otherwise in his capacity as a duly elected member of the House of Representatives, including by any use of the New Rules;
  5. Enjoin and require Defendants to fully and immediately restore (including retroactively, where necessary) Representative Jones to the full rights and benefits of his elected office of which he has been and continues to be deprived as a result of his unconstitutional and illegal expulsion, including:
    • Reinstatement of Representative Jones to his committee appointments;
    • Restoration of Representative Jones’ seniority based on his original date of election to the House of Representatives;
    • Official acknowledgement of Representative Jones’ service in the 113th Tennessee General Assembly House of Representatives as a full year of creditable general assembly service for purposes of determining Representative Jones’ qualification for and benefits under the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System; and
    • Restoration of all other benefits of which he has or may have been deprived.
  6. Award compensatory damages to Plaintiff according to proof at trial;
  7. Award costs of suit and attorney’s fees; and
  8. Provide such other and further relief as the Court may deem just, proper, and appropriate.