|For Immediate Release:
Date: April 10, 2023
|Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director
WASHINGTON – The Tennessee Asian Pacific American Bar Association (TAPABA) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) jointly express grave concern for the abrogation of the rule of law and democracy in the wake of the unprecedented expulsion of two legislators, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, from the Tennessee House of Representatives and the attempted expulsion of a third. As non-partisan bar associations, we are dedicated to ensuring representation of Asian Pacific Americans and other marginalized communities in the legal profession—including in the judiciary, legislature, and public sphere—and advancing the civil rights of our members and the communities they serve.
When duly elected representatives are dispossessed of their legislative seats, seemingly without adequate due process, their constituents are disenfranchised, and democracy suffers as a result. Expulsions should be rare, and consistent with longstanding precedent, should only follow criminal conviction or after thorough investigation by committee. We note that in the last 157 years, only two representatives have been expelled after allegations of criminal conduct and internal inquiries. The blatant, disparate treatment, even among the three legislators targeted for ouster, and the lack of due process cannot be ignored. TAPABA and NAPABA call on the Tennessee General Assembly to ensure that thorough, careful, and considered due process is always followed in such matters, and that leaders of the House and Senate be mindful that it is not individual legislators, but Tennessee’s districts, and more importantly, their constituents, who are most harmed when deprived of their representation. Tennesseans deserve better.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.
The Tennessee Asian Pacific American Bar Association (TAPABA) was created on May 1, 2007, as a state-wide, non-profit association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, law students and those interested in Asian American legal issues. TAPABA is an affiliate of NAPABA.