“Democratic state lawmakers who fled Texas to stop Republicans from passing a voting bill can begin to return home this week after a state district judge issued an order prohibiting their arrest,” National Review reported. “The House Democrats obtained a temporary restraining order on Sunday, blocking the GOP from having them forcibly returned to the House chamber.”
“The restraining order prevents the lawmakers from being arrested, detained or confined in any way for two weeks,” the report continued. “The Democrats will now be able to continue to obstruct the legislation until at least August 20th, when Republicans will have an opportunity to challenge the order in a scheduled hearing.”
“State District Judge Brad Urrutia, a Democrat, granted the temporary restraining order late Sunday night restricting Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan from ‘detaining, confining or otherwise restricting’ the free movement of House Democrats within the state or issuing any warrants ordering their confinement,” the Texas Tribune reported.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott earlier had said that fleeing members of the Texas Legislature can be arrested upon their return if they are needed for a vote.
“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” Abbott said on the Ingraham Angle.
“What the law is, it’s in the Constitution, and that is the House, the State House of Representatives, who are here in the capitol in Austin right now,” Abbott said, “they do have the ability to issue a call for their fellow members who are not showing up to be arrested, but only so long as that arrest is made in the State of Texas. That is why they have fled the state.”
Nearly 60 of the Texas state representatives fled in July to avoid voting on the Lone Star State’s election integrity bills. The maskless Democrats then became party to a “superspreader event”; at least six of them tested positive for COVID, and potentially infected unnamed White House officials and a Pelosi staffer.
The Texas Democrats recently filed a lawsuit suing the Texas Governor Greg Abbott for “anxiety, discomfort, and distress,” as well as “damaging their reputations.”
“Twenty-two Texas House Democrats sued some of the state’s top Republican leaders in federal court in Austin late Friday, alleging that GOP officials’ efforts to bring them home for a special legislative session infringed on their constitutional rights to free speech and to petition the government for redress of grievances,” the Texas Tribune reported.
“The lawsuit was filed on the final day of the first special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott — and on the eve of a second specially called legislative session — and names as defendants Abbott, House Speaker Dade Phelan and State Rep. James White,” the report continued.
The lawsuit claims that “the three Republican lawmakers acted together under the ‘color of law’ to cause the harm alleged in the suit, but then points no specific harmful actions other than ‘public statements’,” the Tribune noted.
In July, the Texas House voted 76-4 to arrest the state legislature’s members who fled the state to deny a vote on election reform bills. The Texas Democrats violated the state’s constitution, but just like their Democratic counterparts at the federal level, they appear to be exempt from the law.