A group of Texas Democrats fled the state last month in an effort to stall an election reform bill backed by GOP lawmakers.
Now, the Texas Tribune reports that law enforcement officers have received the approval needed to round up the absent Democrats under threat of arrest.
Dems remain defiant
Despite a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court this week that permitted their arrest, some of the lawmakers continue to ignore warrants compelling their return to the state, as the Associated Press notes.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has been threatening to arrest the Democrats since they left the state but has yet to make good on the vow.
As of this writing, about 20 of the Democrats remain in the nation’s capital, the New York Post reports. Although many of those who initially left have since returned, Texas Republicans remain unable to pass legislation without a quorum, according to the AP.
An earlier state Supreme Court decision did not immediately alter the situation as Democrats ignored civil arrest warrants signed by GOP state House Speaker Dade Phelan. Instead, they hailed rulings by three state court judges that offered protection against the arrest, further contributing to the confusion surrounding their standoff.
“Now, 44 of my colleagues have the same protections I have, at least temporarily,” declared Democratic state Rep. Gene Wu, according to the Tribune. “Nobody can detain or drag us back to the House floor against our will.”
“Time for them to get to the Capitol”
On Thursday, the state’s highest court overruled the lower court decisions in favor of the Republicans.
In response, Phelan affirmed that authorities would “immediately” begin arresting Democrats. Abbott weighed in by imploring the absent lawmakers to call it quits.
“The Dems have filed some of the most embarrassing lawsuits ever seen,” the governor said. “Time for them to get to the Capitol and do the job they were elected to do.”
The NAACP and other national organizations have done their part to thwart the GOP-led push for voter reform in Texas, demanding that the Justice Department involve itself in the ongoing dispute.
In certain leftist circles, the Texas Democrats have been hailed as heroes for taking such extreme steps to avoid voting on the election reform measure. Despite its comparison to Jim Crow laws, however, the proposed legislation largely serves to roll back changes implemented to make voting easier during the COVID-19 pandemic.