Rep. Justin Jones (D-TN) refused to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the House session on Thursday, resulting in immediate calls for his resignation.
Tennessee House Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison is demanding that Jones resign over his lack of respect for his fellow House members and his disrespect for the country and his state.
Jones hosted the minister of the day and therefore was expected to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The representative hosted Sally Wells, president of the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee, who offered a prayer in the Choctaw language, according to The Tennessean.
The Tennessee congressman submitted a hand-scribbled note just before the session requesting that he not lead the pledge. House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-TN) then asked House Minority Leader Karen Camper (D-TN) to lead the body in the pledge in his place.
(Video Credit: WKRN News 2)
“The reason why I did not join my colleagues in the pledge is that I can not say the words ‘liberty and justice for all’ with colleagues who have done everything in their power to roll back liberty and justice for women, for minorities, for LGBTQ+ people,” Jones told The Tennessean in an interview.
He claimed that the uproar over his refusal to lead the pledge shows “that I am surrounded by hypocrites.”
“I hope that we can get to a day that we can live up to the words of the pledge – liberty and justice for all,” Jones lamely proclaimed.
The Tennessean reported that Faison was incensed over Jones’ arrogance. He called his behavior “shameful,” a “disgrace,” and “an embarrassment to veterans and to the people who have come before us.”
(Video Credit: WSMV 4 Nashville)
“It’s shameful that you can come into this chamber to actually serve in here. You have to raise your hand and swear an oath to the Constitution. You’ve been fortunate enough to serve in a chamber of the United States of America. That flag represents the Constitution. To me, you can’t break the two apart. You’ve given up your ability to serve here,” Faison railed against Jones. “That oath is sacred to every one of us. That flag represents the oath. In my opinion, he should resign.”
“That is an embarrassment to veterans and to people who have come before us. That’s a disgrace what you saw this morning,” he raged. “As elected officials, we swear an oath to defend the constitutions of both Tennessee and the United States. It is incredibly hypocritical and insulting to refuse pledging allegiance to the very flag that embodies our freedoms and the sacrifices of millions of Americans. If you do not respect our nation, its flag, and all of those who have sacrificed for them, then you should not hold public office.”
Jones shot back at Faison, claiming his call for him to resign was “ironic, coming from a chairman of a House Republican Caucus who refused to resign after he tried to pull down the pants of a referee.”
He went on to assert that he didn’t mean to disrespect the military and then claimed he was the son of a Marine veteran, the grandson of a Navy veteran, and the great-grandson of a veteran of World War II.
Democrat Rep. Justin Jones refused to lead the Tennessee House legislature in the pledge of allegiance today.
If you can’t pledge allegiance to our country then you shouldn’t be in office.
This seems like a bare minimum ask. pic.twitter.com/TApyCNfK5l
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) February 1, 2024
“Recitation of the pledge has been a part of each session day since a change to the House Rules in 1969. Prior to that, the House recited the pledge during Tuesday meetings only, according to Legislative Historian Eddie Weeks,” The Tennessean noted.
Playing the race and gender cards for all they were worth, Jones paid homage to indigenous and native American culture and heritage as being an integral part of Tennessee’s history while introducing Wells.
“Today’s prayer is a form of resistance and persistence in the face of generations of cultural erasure and historical revisionism that have sought to write indigenous people out of American history and everyday life,” he intoned.
Rep. Justin Jones declined to lead the pledge today.
— Chris O’Brien (@THEChrisOB) February 1, 2024
“Jones continues to be a controversial figure in the legislative, regularly clashing with his Republican colleagues. He, along with Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, were expelled in April over their role leading a gun-control protest on the House floor. But the pair were quickly reappointed by local officials in Nashville and Shelby County and reelected during special elections,” The Tennessean reported.
The representative released a statement on the incident, “I declined to lead the pledge of allegiance with my Republican colleagues who have attacked ‘liberty and justice for all’ when it comes to the people of our state and continue to support a man for President who incited an insurrection against our nation.”
“It’s ironic that the same legislators who champion Confederate flags and monuments, now want to lecture others about what patriotism should look like. Perhaps Speaker Sexton who has still refused to answer for not actually living in his district and inappropriate relationships with lobbyists should resign,” Jones concluded.
He is refusing to resign. Whether Jones can be booted or not over his latest actions is to be determined.
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