Free Speech is Essential to Our Democracy

Along with the vast majority of Tennesseans, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee hoped that the special session of the state legislature would make meaningful strides to addressing gun safety issues in our state.  We have been disappointed.  Governor Lee and the Tennessee legislature have ignored the public’s demands for steps that would make our lives in this state a bit safer through common sense gun safety measures.  These demands from the public will not be silenced and we urge the state legislature to take responsible action in the upcoming 2024 regular session.

The League of Women Voters values transparency in government and the importance of maintaining civil discourse.  We have seen both of these values eroded during this session. We have seen rules implemented in the House that limit the ability of legislators to fully express their viewpoints and to be penalized for doing so.

Even more troubling, we have seen arbitrary rules implemented by leadership in the House that are intended to limit public access and silence public voices at a time when the concerns of everyday Tennesseans need to be heard. ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of three parents who were deprived of their first amendment rights of free speech when they were ejected from a committee meeting for holding paper signs this past week and Judge Anne Martin has ruled in their favor.  Her ruling will allow spectators observing both committee hearings as well as the General Assembly to continue the long-approved practice of holding their messages up on small hand-held paper signs.

Protecting free speech is essential in our government and disdain for the public is never acceptable in a democracy.  We urge leaders in the General Assembly to pause and reflect how their actions fall short of the expectations of millions of Tennesseans who are depending on them.

LWVTN Statement on Tennessee House of Representatives

Today is a sad day for democracy in the state of Tennessee. Two Black representatives, who were duly elected to represent the people of Nashville and Memphis, were expelled from their seats for peacefully protesting gun violence.
The people of Tennessee deserve a state legislature that represents all communities, instead of robbing majority Black communities of their right to representation in our government. Instead of prioritizing gun safety that Tennesseans called for, the Legislature chose to vilify the three members, Representatives Johnson, Jones, and Pearson,  who courageously stood up with their constituents.  

What happened today in our general assembly was shameful. The racist tone of floor arguments, along with the outcome that exempted the one white representative from expulsion, make clear the real intent behind our assembly’s actions today.
The voices of the people will not be silenced, and our General Assembly must listen to the cries of Tennesseans for fair representation and protection against gun violence.

LWVTN Protects Voters in Wake of Ballot Errors

On November 4, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee and ACLU-TN secured a court order with the Davidson County Election Commission and the Tennessee Secretary of State  in response  to serious errors made in assigning Davidson County residents to their appropriate congressional and General Assembly districts.  According to the Election Commission, 438 voters erroneously received voter registration cards placing them in the wrong districts and were misassigned to their voting precinct. The order requires the Election Commission to take remedial steps so that all Davidson County voters can vote in their races with the correct candidates listed.

“The League of Women Voters believes that the ability of all voters to select the candidate of their choice at the polls is the bedrock principle of a democracy,” said Debby Gould, President. “That is why we joined with ACLU to bring a lawsuit again state and local election officials to develop immediate remedies that assure that voters have access to correct ballots."

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League Urges Legislature to Consider Public Input on Redistricting

Tennesseans want elected representatives who listen and respond to the needs of their constituents. The League of Women Voters does not believe that the proposed redistricting maps for the nine U.S. congressional districts reflects the interests of Tennesseans.

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LWVTN Advocates for Medicaid Expansion

Watch Part 1 & Part 2

LWV Responds to Police Killing of George Floyd

From LWV statement on the George Floyd murder:

As an organization whose mission is to empower voters and defend democracy, we stand in solidarity with all Black communities. The League shall do so not only by speaking out against racism in all forms, but by doing the work required of us to be anti-racist. We are committed to listening to and amplifying Black voices, and educating ourselves and our children on the historic and ongoing systemic racism that plagues this country.

Read the entire League statement HERE 

LWVTN Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy

LWV is an organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the organization’s current and future success in engaging all individuals, households, communities, and policy makers in creating a more perfect democracy...more