Supreme Court: Texas Democrats who fled state can be arrested

The group of some 50 Texas Democratic lawmakers who made headlines after fleeing the state to bust up a vote on a Republican-led voter integrity bill might soon regret their sideshow antics.

According to The Hill, the Texas Supreme Court sided with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, ruling that the Democrats who fled can be arrested. The state’s highest court also rescinded all of the lower court orders issued over past weeks that sought to block the Dem lawmakers from being arrested. 

“The legal question before this Court concerns only whether the Texas Constitution gives the House of Representatives the authority to physically compel the attendance of absent members. We conclude that it does, and we therefore direct the district court to withdraw the TRO,” Justice Jimmy Blacklock ruled.

Republican leadership in the Texas legislature have issued formal arrest warrants for a number of the fleeing Democrats, and the state Supreme Court’s latest ruling sets a new precedent, making it constitutional to use the threat of arrest to compel the lawmakers to return to the state capitol to perform their elected duties.

Democrats involved in the debacle flew to Washington D.C. and successfully blocked a quorum for a special session of the state legislature called by Abbott earlier this year.

Those same Democrats managed to interrupt a second special session, which was called by the governor on Aug. 7, Politico noted. The voter integrity bill that Democrats oppose is only one of multiple items that Texas Republicans want to vote on.

Abbott, who’s clearly not intimidated by the Democrats’ antics, has pledged to call “special session after special session” in order to make sure state business is completed, presumably as he knows that the state Dems can’t stay hidden forever.

The state Senate’s Republican leader, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, has suggested the possibility of amending the rules to make quorums possible with only a simple majority plus one, which would all but ensure quorums would go uninterrupted in the future.

Only time will tell if the state manages to round up enough Democrats to continue on with business, but it’s clear at this point that Republican leadership in the state is not interested in backing down.