Republican Gov. Greg Abbott threatened to arrest the nearly 60 Democratic representatives who fled the Texas legislature in order to block Republicans from establishing a quorum and passing a contested voting reforms bill.
The state’s Supreme Court ruling came after Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan petitioned the court Monday to overturn the protection order, meaning the lawmakers could all face arrest if they return from their month-long hiatus.
“The Supreme Court of Texas swiftly rejected this dangerous attempt by Texas Democrats to undermine our Constitution and avoid doing the job they were elected to do,” Abbott spokesperson, Renae Eze, told Fox News. “We look forward to the Supreme Court upholding the rule of law and stopping another stall tactic by the Texas Democrats.”
Lawmakers who have already returned to the Lone Star State could be arrested if they refuse to head to Austin to form a quorum on their own accord.
We “would be going to a jail, we would be going to the House chambers where they would basically be forcing a quorum,” state Rep. Ron Reynolds explained in a video posted on his Twitter. “They would take us against our will to the House floor.”
The Texas legislature needs at least 51 Democratic lawmakers to return to Texas to establish a quorum – a move many Democrats are still flatly rejecting.
“We will continue to fight against the Republicans Voter Suppression bills,” Reynolds told Fox News. “We are planning on staying in D.C. advocating for federal voting rights legislation until the U.S. Senate goes on August recess towards the end of the week.”
Reynolds has become a leading figure in Texas’ push to counter GOP voting legislation that Democrats argue unfairly targets Black and Brown voting rights.
The Texas lawmaker, who was arrested last week while protesting the U.S. Senate to pass voting reform, said state lawmakers are relying on federal reform to bar restrictive voting policies.
Texas Republicans argue the laws would merely secure the elective process.
“We are optimistic that Leader Chuck Schumer will bring up HR For the People Act for a vote this week,” Reynolds said.
Twenty-five Texas Democrats have remained in Washington, D.C. while at least four lawmakers have returned to Austin, including state Representatives James Talarico, Joe Moody, Mary Gonzalez, and Art Fierro.