Austin, TX — Texas Democrats who fled the state last month to block a Republican effort to pass voting restrictions scored a legal victory Sunday night after a district judge signed a temporary restraining order blocking their arrest according to the Texas Tribune.
Texas House Democratic lawmakers who left the state to block a Republican-backed elections bill have begun returning home this week after a district judge granted a temporary restraining order barring Gov. Greg Abbott from ordering their arrest.
Abbott announced that lawmakers who left the state to block consideration of the bill would be arrested “as soon as they come back.” in order to force them to attend the sessions and do the job that they are being paid for.
The judge’s order bars Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican from “detaining, confining or otherwise restricting” the Democratic lawmakers within the state, the Texas Tribune reported.
Democratic State Rep. James Talarico was among the first to announce his return to Texas after State District Court Judge Brad Urrutia granted the restraining order. Texas Democratic lawmakers are in a standoff with Abbott after they traveled to Washington D.C. to break quorum for special legislative session the governor called in a bid to force consideration of the bill.
It is the second lawsuit filed by House Democrats in an attempt to avoid arrest if they returned to Texas. The first was filed Friday by attorney Craig Washington in federal court in Austin on behalf of 22 House Democrats. It was riddled with problems, including statements by at least four of the plaintiffs that they had not authorized the suit on their behalf.
“Our quorum break shined a national spotlight on the TX voter suppression bill and pushed Congress closer to passing a federal voting rights act to override it,” Talarico wrote on Twitter. “I’m confident they will. Now I’m back to clean up Greg Abbott’s latest messes from COVID to ERCOT.”
The plaintiffs are Reps. Gina Hinojosa, Alma Allen, Michelle Beckley, Jasmine Crockett, Joe Deshotel, Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, Vikki Goodwin, Celia Israel, Ray Lopez, Armando “Mando” Martinez, Trey Martinez Fischer, Ina Minjarez, Christina Morales, Mary Ann Perez, Ana-Maria Ramos, Richard Peña Raymond, Ron Reynolds, Eddie Rodriguez and Ramon Romero, Jr. All left the state in July.
The order paves the way for the dozens of Democrats to return home without risking arrest, and also prevents Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) from “detaining, confining or otherwise restricting” them.
“No matter what the Governor or Speaker have said, it is a fundamental principle in this country that no one has the power to arrest their political opponents. That is why this action had to be filed,” Bassett said in a statement.
Read that again: if someone declares themselves to be your political opponent then they can not be arrested for breaking the law.
“The ruling by the Travis County judge is contrary to the Texas Constitution and violates the separation of powers between the different branches of government,” said Renae Eze, an Abbott spokeswoman. “We are confident that this overstep will be overturned. Texas Democrats need to stop the charades and get back to work.”
I wish to publicly announce to all Highway Patrol Officers that I am your political opponent, and if you attempt to arrest me for doing 85 in a School Zone with a suspended license, no insurance, and a “Defund the Police” bumper sticker (hey, that was a stupid place to put a playground) I will slap you with a restraining order.
And, apparently, get it in place.
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