John Stevens is a practicing attorney of Huntingdon, Tenn., 3½ hours from Chattanooga and west of Nashville, and a member of the state senate who objects to anyone criticizing his profession and calling or his high place with two seats in the three branches of state government.

By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio

In a Jan. 25 email to Chattanooga state Sen. Bo Watson and others, he objects to his tribe being held to account by a citizenry whose constitutional rights have been seriously breached by the state’s laws and the practice of its bureaus and agents.

Because that is what John Gentry, a certified public accountant in Goodlettsville, is doing with a petition for remonstrance delivered to both Senate and House of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Mr. Gentry is trying to hold the government to account, seeing that ordinary politicking and appeals through the courts are nigh impossible, and rejected. See the dismal treatment of “the Fiddle Man of Lawrenceburg” in his appeal to overturn evil practice in traffic enforcement and evil law in the “intent to go armed” statute.

Mr. Stevens, perhaps, should know when to remain silent, especially when the conflict is over the role of lawyers in the general assembly and their control of the judicial branch by members of their guild.

The issue is over whether attorneys should abstain from any comment or vote on something in which they have an interest. Lawyers vote on bills in which they have an interest all the time, and no one other than John Gentry blinks an eye.

An interest is to say a personal, political or financial game to be made by a piece of legislation or an issue being debated. By law, a legislator must abstain from any debate or vote on a matter in which he has an interest..

In the missive below, Mr. Stevens calls the Gentry remonstrance illegal, lucicrous. If it were heard, it would set an evil precedent. All manner of other people would stream before the general assembly and take up all of its time with their grievances, he says. No, it is not the purpose of the general assembly to hear grievances. It is the purpose of the general assembly to write laws. That is essentially is his argument. His fear of Mr. Gentry’s making personal argument before senate and house is that it will open the gates for an outpouring of public sentiment against the political machinery that he represents.

The first petition of remonstrance was in 1850 in the administration of Gov. William Carroll. That of 2019 is the second in the state’s history, and provides 90pp of legal analysis showing how militantly the state has arisen by faction against the interests of the people and of the republican form of government.

Here, now, Sen. Stevens’ missive.

‘There could be hundreds if not thousands filed’

While I appreciate the effort you have obviously put forward in this endeavor, you have grossly misunderstood the historical and practical implications of remonstrance. Further, you have misread our rules and constitution.  You have no constitutional right to present to the general assembly your remonstrance. Our rules apply to the members of the general assembly.

James Madison’s famous memorial and remonstrance regarding religious liberty was presented to the Virginia assembly as a MEMBER of the assembly. Although you appear to have read our rules, you have ignored Rule 9 – No one may address the speaker except a member of the senate, and Rule 11, which directs members to only direct their comments to the Speaker.

To think otherwise is absurd. The citizens of Tennessee, nor any republic, would not stand for the expenditure of their resources by their elected representatives if our legislative attention was diverted from legislative deliberation to, instead, sitting through the presentation of such remonstrances by individual citizens.

There could be hundreds if not thousands filed. It is absolutely ludicrous to even consider that the drafters of our constitution, let alone the citizens who approved its adoption, would spend the time to create a system of representative government only to completely eviscerate its operation through some supposed right of remonstrance which included the right of a citizen or citizens to commandeer its members of the general assembly for the reading of the entire remonstrance by the chief clerk or to even require said “petitioner” to gain the undivided attention of all 132 members at the same time or of each individual body at the same time.

The citizens of Tennessee have the right guaranteed in Art. I, Section 23, to express their opposition or support of proposed legislative action, government conduct or policy.  

No one can file remonstrances

Like all rights, it is not without limitation. The limitation is the procedure for such an “address of remonstrance.” I am unaware of any procedure in law or in our rules that allow a citizen to file a remonstrance, beyond that in T.C.A. 69-5-922.   

Such procedures have been established through the adoption of the rules of the house and senate, respectively. The rules apply to the members. The rules provide for presentation of resolutions, petitions and memorials by members of the general assembly and do not address in any way remonstrances.

I do not have a copy of Mason’s with me in my district office so I do not know if they address the filing of remonstrances. In any event, any member of the general assembly can file a resolution, petition or memorial which would then proceed through the normal legislative process.  I suggest contacting your representative and senator and have your remonstrance presented in the form of a resolution or petition. [End of Stevens letter]

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