Texas Republicans have signed civil arrest warrants for the fugitive Democratic lawmakers who have prevented the state from doing its business since fleeing to Washington, D.C. in July to block an election reform bill, the Associated Press reports.
Breaking up the protest has been more difficult than anticipated, as some of the Democrats remain in Washington and others are ignoring the warrants.
State Supreme Court allows move
The House sergeants-at-arms served the 52 warrants Wednesday morning, “politely” dropping them at the offices of absent Democrats and asking their staff for them to return, the AP reported.
State House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) had signed the warrants the day before, the Daily Wire reported, after the Texas Supreme Court overturned a lower court order blocking the arrests.
There is no end in sight to the quorum-busting protest, which has already run the course of one special session since the Democrats fled Texas to stop an election integrity bill from passing. Another session started this weekend.
About 20 Democrats are still in Washington, according to the New York Post, and those who have returned to Texas are largely refusing to cooperate with legal orders.
“I don’t worry about things I can’t control,” Democratic state Rep. Erin Zwiener told the AP. “Nothing about these warrants are a surprise, and they don’t necessarily affect my plans.”
No end in sight for Dem protest
The civil warrants allow the Democrats to be forcibly brought back to the Capitol, the Post notes, but enforcing them has been a task easier said than done. The Democrats scored a win Wednesday when three state district judges in Houston signed orders to shield them from arrest.
“Now, 44 of my colleagues have the same protections I have, at least temporarily,” Democrat Gene Wu said, according to the Texas Tribune. “Nobody can detain or drag us back to the House floor against our will.”
The bill Democrats are attempting to block would roll back drive-thru voting and other extraordinary changes to election laws introduced amid the coronavirus pandemic.
State Rep. Jim Murphy (R), who leads the House Republican caucus, is hoping the Democrats will come around to accepting their responsibilities as lawmakers.
“It is incredible to me that you have to arrest people to do the job they campaigned for, for which they took an oath of office to uphold the Texas Constitution,” he said, according to the AP.