Twenty-two Democrats who fled Texas launched a lawsuit against GOP state officials for trying to make them return to the Lone Star State.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and fellow Republican state lawmakers recently issued civil warrants to compel more than 50 state Democrats to stop avoiding their obligations to Texan taxpayers. If the state representatives continue to stay in Washington, they could be arrested.
Lawyers representing the group claim judicial efforts to recall them for a special session violate their civil rights. Their clients described the civil warrants as a “discriminatory scheme” to violate their constitutional right to assemble, according to the Texas Tribune.
The lawsuit accuses the governor and GOP state Reps. Dade Phelan and James White of conspiring to “coerce, threaten, intimidate, and prevent” state Democrats from exercising their constitutional rights.
“[Texas Democrats were] deprived of liberty for substantial periods of time, suffered much anxiety and distress over separation from their families, and much discomfort and embarrassment [from the defendants’s acts,” they said according to the paper.
The lawsuit claims the 22 plaintiffs have faced “retaliatory attacks, threats, and attempts at coercion relating to the exercise of their First Amendment rights.”
The lawsuit also claims some Texas Democrats were targeted based on race and skin color. Three Republican lawmakers allegedly planned to undermine this legal action under the “color of law.”
The remarks came on the final day of Abbott’s first special session, and on the eve of a second special session.
Texas Democrats and Republicans have been at odds on proposed voting reforms, abortion access, critical race theory, and a ban on transgender youth in sports.
Abbott previously warned he would arrest more than 50 Texas Democrats who fled the state on July 12. The Republican believes the stunt was intended to prevent passage of an election reform bill that grants partisan poll watchers more power, and bans 24-hour polling places plus ballot drop boxes.
The governor had planned to start enacting the new special legislation at noon on Aug. 7.
The following Texas Democrats are named in the lawsuit: state Reps. Senfronia Thompson, Trey Martinez Fischer, Gene Wu, Vikki Goodwin, Ron Reynolds, Eddie Rodriguez, Jon Rosenthal, Jasmine Crockett, Mary Ann Perez, Alma Allen, Christina Morales, Nicole Collier, Celia Israel, Ana-Maria Ramos, Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, Terry Meza, Donna Howard, Jarvis Johnson, Ray Lopez, Shawn Thierry, Elizabeth Campos, and Gina Hinojosa.