The Texas House Speaker, Republican Dade Phelan, formally signed civil arrest warrants on Tuesday for 52 House Democrats who refused to appear for another special legislative session after the state Supreme Court voided a district judge’s attempt to block the threat of arrest.
According to the Washington Post, arrested lawmakers would not be jailed, but they could be taken to the Capitol by police after the warrants are delivered to the House sergeant-at-arms, which is expected to take place on Wednesday.
“The Supreme Court of Texas swiftly rejected this dangerous attempt by Texas Democrats to undermine our Constitution and avoid doing the job they were elected to do,” Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Gov. Greg Abbott, told Fox News. “We look forward to the Supreme Court upholding the rule of law and stopping another stall tactic by the Texas Democrats.”
The Texas Tribune reported that all but 15 House Democrats now have warrants out for their arrest. At least 11 Democrats were present on Tuesday when lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to authorize law enforcement to locate absent lawmakers.
After the warrants were signed, state Rep. Chris Tuner from Grand Prairie, who heads the House Democratic Caucus, asserted the decision to leave is “fully within our rights as legislators to break quorum to protect our constituents” and doubled-down on the Democrats’ dedication “to fighting with everything we have against Republicans’ attacks on our freedom to vote.”
Last month, 58 state Democrats boarded two private flights to Washington, D.C. to stop the state’s legislature from passing election integrity legislation, as well as to pressure Congress and President Joe Biden’s administration to pass federal voting laws.
Without the Democrats, the House lacks a quorum and therefore cannot vote on any legislation. It is the second time in just months that the state Democrats have prevented a quorum. On May 30, they walked out of the legislative session hours before an anticipated vote.
“Isn’t this the most un-Texan thing you’ve ever heard — Texans running from a fight? They’re quitters,” Abbott said to host Laura Ingraham on Fox News.
“Once they step back into the state they will be arrested and brought back to the Capitol and we will be conducting business,” the governor added.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) slammed the Democrats as “pathetic” at the time.
“Hard to imagine a more delusional group of people – thinking that lying about these bills, hopping on a chartered flight, sipping beer, and skipping work is ‘sacrifice,’” Crenshaw tweeted. “You guys are pathetic. Totally pathetic.”
“These delinquents are doing this to kill a bill that does things like make voting hours across counties the same,” Crenshaw continued in a separate tweet. “There isn’t a single thing in these bills that is ‘voter suppression.’ This [is] a giant charade. Texans should be furious, and vote all of these children out of office.”