The Texas Supreme Court voted on Tuesday to invalidate a Democrat district judge’s restraining order that blocked the arrest of Democratic lawmakers upon their return to the Lone Star state after they fled to Washington, D.C. last month
Texas Governor Greg Abbott previously threatened the arrest of the nearly 60 Democrats who left the state to block consideration of a voting reform bill. On Sunday, State District Judge Brad Urrutia signed a controversial order that halted the arrest of the Democrats upon their return.
Immediately, Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan petitioned the Texas Supreme Court to overturn the protection order. The ruling imparts that any Democrat who returns from their month-long, multi-million dollar DC vacation but fails to attend the next special session and quorum can be arrested.
“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. We look forward to the Supreme Court upholding the rule of law and stopping another stall tactic by the Texas Democrats,” Abbott’s spokesperson told Fox News.
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) August 10, 2021
Mere hours after the court’s ruling, the Texas House voted 80-12 to issue the warrants, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The warrants “will be delivered to the House Sergeant-at-Arms tomorrow morning for service” a Phelan spokesperson told the Texas Tribune. The warrants will not involve criminal charges or fines, they will simply require lawmakers to be brought to the House chamber.
Some lawmakers have returned to the state, though many remain in the DC. Those who returned have yet to establish a quorum.
State Rep. Ron Reynolds responded to the ruling in a Twitter video where he said Republicans would be forcing Democrats to do their jobs by “tak[ing] us against our will to the House floor.”
FIGHTING BACK: Rep. @ronereynolds says they are not done fighting arrest warrants. He says they have a full hearing coming up to get the judge’s ruling. He’s in D.C. & doesn’t think the House will get quorum today. Here’s what he says would happen if a Rep. gets arrested. @KHOU pic.twitter.com/RqRMzqgOpY
— Janelle Bludau (@JanelleKHOU) August 10, 2021
“I just question whether [the Texas Department of Public Safety] or anyone can break down my door to come and put me in shackles and drag me there, I feel certain that I can stay in my home, and stay off the House floor,” state Rep. Vikki Goodwin told one outlet.
Democrats claim the bill that they are protesting, designed to make elections more secure by requiring an I.D. to vote by mail and banning drive-through and extended hours during early voting, would suppress minority voters.
As of Monday, the House chamber was just four lawmakers short of a quorum according to The Dallas Morning News.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), got into a spat with Politifact for rating his statement that there is “clear legal authority to handcuff and put in leg irons” AWOL Texas Democrats as “false.”
Cruz took to Twitter to rebuff Politifact:
Yep. The Texas Supreme Court just agreed with me—unanimously.
But, of course, PolitiFact still rules the claim “false.”
They have yet to issue a correction. https://t.co/TavqAguOwl
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 11, 2021
The Senator is the former Solicitor General of Texas and he fired back at the fact checker’s claim that there is no “clear legal authority” in the state’s constitution to handcuff absent lawmakers.
Ted Cruz is the former Solicitor General of Texas, but hey I’m sure the Politifact writer who spent 90 minutes researching this knows Texas law better than he does. https://t.co/XpXu0fSCYD
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) August 10, 2021
Cruz’s office reportedly responded to Politifact in a statement citing “clear legal authority” that stemmed from the U.S. Constitution and a 1988 incident where an Oregon lawmaker was returned to the statehouse by force, according to Fox News.
“Pretending that the law doesn’t clearly allow for the arrest and potential physical compulsion of delinquent legislators is patently absurd,” a Cruz spokesman told PolitiFact.
👀 But Politi-“Fact” said this wasn’t possible…. https://t.co/5NyMK7Cuwm
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 11, 2021
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