by Debra Heine
The 52 Texas House Democrats who fled the state last month to block election integrity legislation were declaring victory just a few days ago when an activist judge in Austin signed an order to block enforcement of the arrest warrants put out for them.
Early Tuesday, however, Republican leaders asked the Texas Supreme Court to overturn that order, and the justices quickly agreed. House Speaker Dade Phelan signed civil arrest warrants for the recalcitrant Democrats late Tuesday, after the chamber voted 80-12 to force the runaway Dems to return to the statehouse, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Life coming at this dude so fast… pic.twitter.com/eOcr5gPpFG
— Bonchie (@bonchieredstate) August 11, 2021
The warrants have set in motion the potential round-up of lawmakers who’ve returned home from Washington, D.C., but have avoided the Texas Capitol in order to stymie the bill. The Republicans need to achieve the quorum in order to advance the legislation.
Civil arrests are allowed under the Texas Constitution as a way to force lawmakers to show up for their jobs.
“People aren’t going to jail, but they got to come back to work,” Republican state Rep. Mayes Middleton said.
The warrants will be delivered to the House sergeant-at-arms on Wednesday morning, Phelan’s spokesman Enrique Marquez told the Dallas Morning News.
At least six of the Texas Democrats tested positive for COVID-19 after fleeing to Washington D.C., last month.
The 24 or so progressives who remain in D.C. have reportedly been pressuring the Dems who have returned to Texas to stay away from Austin, but several, including Rep. James Talarico, have returned to the House.
“We had many heated debates in Washington as we debated our own next steps,” said Talarico. “I’m going to keep those arguments in private. But I know emotions are rightfully running high everywhere, and it’s been a difficult month.”
Texas Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos, who remains in D.C., lashed out at Talarico and the others on Twitter Monday for returning to Austin.
— Representative Ana-Maria Ramos (@Ramos4Texas) August 9, 2021
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Debra Heine is a writer for American Greatness.
Photo “James Talarico” by James Talarico.