The large group of Texas state Democratic lawmakers who generated headlines after fleeing the state to avoid a vote on a new voter integrity bill might have just received the news they were hoping for.
According to the Washington Examiner, as the threat of arrest for the Democrats lingered as they considered returning to their home state, an Austin-based judge issued a restraining order this week which will prevent the Democrats from being cuffed upon arriving back home from Washington D.C.
The decision comes after a second lawsuit was filed by Democrats to ensure their safe return to the state after the first lawsuit failed.
Judge gives all-clear
It was State District Judge Brad Urrutia, not surprisingly a Democrat, who issued the restraining order, which should protect the lawmakers from facing the possibility of arrest, which was threatened on several occasions by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and other Republican state officials.
The arrest threats were simply issued, according to law, to ensure that the Democrats would be returned to perform their elected duties, which in this case, meant showing up so the state legislature can vote on the proposed voter integrity bill.
The judge’s decision came in the wake of a group of 19 Texas Democrats who banded together and filed suit, requesting that Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) not be able to arrest returning Democratic lawmakers.
An attorney for the Democratic lawmakers implied that Abbott and Phelan were attempting to use their power to detain their political opponents.
“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,” attorney Samuel E. Bassett said.
What happens next?
While it’s anyone’s guess if returning Democrats ultimately end up behind bars, what’s for certain is that this same scenario could play out once again, as Gov. Abbott has formally called a second special session to get the voter integrity bill voted on and passed.
“I will continue to call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity, and pass other important items that Texans demand and deserve. Passing these Special Session agenda items will chart a course towards a stronger and brighter future for the Lone Star State,” the Republican governor said.
The second session began on Saturday at the Texas State Capitol. However, the controversy might continue, as a number of the Texas Democrats who fled to bust up the first special session have vowed to stay in Washington D.C. long enough to do the same to the second session.
Only time will tell how the situation ends, but Gov. Abbott has proven that he’s the type of governor who gets things done, and if drastic measures have to be taken to achieve that outcome, don’t be surprised if that’s what it ultimately takes.