House Speaker signs 52 arrest warrants for absent Democrats

House Speaker signs 52 arrest warrants for absent Democrats

Isabel Webb Carey
Isabel Webb Carey
|
August 12, 2021

House Speaker Dade Phelan signed 52 arrest warrants Tuesday for Democrats who left the state for Washington D.C. last month to break quorum and block a controversial Republican voting bill.

The Texas House Republicans on Tuesday authorized state law enforcement to round up and potentially arrest absentee Democrats who fled the Republican-led chamber to block action on polarizing election legislation. The vote was the second time that Texas House Republicans raised the threat of law enforcement action and was passed 80-12. 

The move came after the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court overturned a state district court ruling that had previously denied the authority of Gov. Greg Abbott and Phelan to order the arrest of their fellow elected officials. A separate lawsuit arguing that GOP efforts to bring lawmakers back has infringe upon constitutional rights has been filed in a federal court.

During the first special session, the only arrest warrant signed by Phelan targeted Rep. Philip Cortez after he returned to Washington D.C. within days of arriving in Texas for negotiations over the election bill.

Despite the return of 4 lawmakers Monday, absent Democrats continue to indicate that they plan to stay in Washington. After the warrants were signed Tuesday evening, state Rep. Chris Turner, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, released a statement in which he reiterated Democrats’ commitment “to fighting with everything we have against Republicans’ attacks on our freedom to vote.”

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Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey attends the University of Texas at Austin in the Plan II Honors Program with a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. Her interests include education, local governance, sustainability, and equity. Isabel enjoys dancing, hiking, and live music. She is also a staff writer for the Texas Orator. Email her at isabelwebbcarey@gmail.com
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