A state district judge issued a temporary order Sunday that blocks the arrests of Texas House Democrats who fled the state last month as a means to prevent the passage of a GOP voting rights bill.
“It clearly appears from the facts set forth…that Defendants have erroneously interpreted Texas law and legislative rules to permit the detention, confinement or other restriction of members of the Texas House of Representatives within the state of Texas in response to a call for quorum, and that, unless Defendants are immediately restrained…Plaintiffs will suffer immediate and irreparable harm,” Democratic State District Judge Brad Urrutia ruled Sunday.
More than 50 Democrats in the Texas House fled the state in July for Washington D.C. in order to prevent Republicans from reaching a necessary quorum to vote on an elections bill. Many Democrats have said the legislation would heavily restrict voting access. (RELATED: Judge Deals Blow To Florida Law Banning Vaccine Passports)
Texas Republicans Can’t Arrest Democrats Who Fled State To Block Voting Bill, Judge Says https://t.co/rJtasJGb6x pic.twitter.com/LdpAmh4BYL
— Forbes (@Forbes) August 9, 2021
Gov. Greg Abbott then called for the arrest of every Democratic lawmaker that fled the state. “Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas Capitol, and we will be conducting business,” Abbott said last month.
Last week, the governor announced that he would be convening a second special legislative session in a bid to enact the Republican-led voting bill.
Nearly two dozen of the Texas House Democrats that fled the state responded Friday by filing a lawsuit against the governor and other GOP officials for their efforts to bring them back to the state capitol, claiming that they have been “deprived of liberty for substantial periods of time, suffered much anxiety and distress over separation from their families, and much discomfort and embarrassment.” Urrutia’s ruling came in response to the suit.
The order expires in 14 days unless Urrutia grants an extension. A court hearing will be held on Aug. 20 where Republican leaders like Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan will be able to fight against the injunction.