The Tennessee Senate voted Wednesday along party lines to expel Sen. Katrina Robinson from the General Assembly—an action not taken in the chamber’s 226 year history.
Members of the Senate’s minority caucus issued a statement Wednesday commending Sen. Robinson for her service in the Senate:
“We want to thank Sen. Robinson for her service in the Senate and her constant resolve in representing the people of the 33rd Senatorial District and Shelby County.
“We hoped our colleagues would at least delay this vote until the judge presiding over this case entered a final judgement.
“In removing Sen. Robinson from office on a party line vote, the Senate has defied more than two centuries of precedent and denied her the due process that is guaranteed to every Tennessean.
“Consequently, the people of the 33rd District are also left without a voice on decisions made in the Senate affecting their livelihoods, safety and well being.
“This is a sad day for the Senate as an institution.”
Republicans led the effort against Robinson citing a federal case tied to her nursing school and accusations that all pre-date her election to the Senate. That case has never been associated with her public service.
In 2019, the Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery wrote a legal opinion warning the legislature about removing a lawmaker for allegations that occurred prior to their public service. “There is no historical precedent of expelling a member other than for conduct that occurred while the member was in office,” he wrote.
Throughout, Sen. Robinson has maintained her innocence and the case against her largely fell in court. The federal judge overseeing her trial has either dismissed or acquitted Robinson of wrongdoing on 46 of the 48 charges. The remaining two charges being considered by the court are related to an error in grant reporting on less than $3,500.
The judge is expected to make a final judgement on the case in early March.
Sen. Robinson asked her colleagues to postpone the expulsion vote until the court issued its final judgement, but a majority of Republicans rejected the idea.
Sen. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, said: “We commend Sen. Robinson for serving her constituents with dedication and enduring this rushed trial with patience, dignity and grace—a lesson this Tennessee General Assembly should emulate.”