Judge blocks arrest of runaway Democrats as they begin to return home

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

The Texas state Democrat runaways can come home without fear of being arrested, thanks to a fellow Democrat, State District Judge Brad Urrutia. That is if they decide to pack up and leave Washington, D.C. within the next 14 days. The judge granted a temporary restraining order late Sunday night in Travis County (Austin).

The temporary restraining order restricts Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan from “detaining, confining or otherwise restricting” the free movement of House Democrats within the state or issuing any warrants ordering their confinement. It seems to be connected to the frivolous lawsuit filed by the runaways last week. They see the writing on the wall – their cowardly run to D.C. to play useful idiot to national Democrats trying to get the For The People Act passed in the Senate has failed spectacularly. Sure, their absence in Austin prevented the special session from moving forward but it did more than just stop a voter integrity reform bill from passage. The lack of quorum also prevented, for example, the lawmakers from voting to approve what is called the 13th check for retired Texas teachers. We all know how beholden to teachers and their union leadership Democrats are. In this case, the Texas Senate approved a bill that would provide retired teachers, counselors, and school staff a one-time payment of up to $2,400 through the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. That’s a nice check coming for retired teachers, wouldn’t you say? I don’t imagine they are pleased with the hold-up caused by the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

The court will hear arguments on a temporary injunction on Aug. 20. Abbott and Phelan must show why a temporary injunction should not be filed against them. Here’s the truth. Phelan has only issued one such civil warrant and that was for Rep. Philip Cortez who returned to Austin for a couple of days, failed to move the needle in the House, and gave up. He returned to D.C. and that is when Phelan made the move. Cortez was flaunting his cowardly disobedience so Phelan reacted to that.

The judge’s temporary restraining order is pre-emptive anyway. The second special session began on Saturday and the House hasn’t voted to renew a call for the second session. There was not a quorum present at its beginning on Saturday. Some Democrats have begun to trickle back which shows that the group is nearing the end of its summer vacation in D.C. So, they are stomping their feet a little bit as they exit. Neither the speaker nor the governor has been notified of the restraining order.

“[T]he Speaker thinks he can wave his hand and have his political opponents rounded up and arrested. We’re watching a major political party backslide in real time from fair representation, the rule of law, and democracy itself,” said Dallas State Rep. Jasmine Crockett, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Enrique Marquez, a Phelan spokesman, said Monday morning the speaker’s office had not yet been notified of the suit or restraining order. Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 19 House Democrats by attorneys Samuel E. Bassett, Jeremy Monthy and Megan Rue.

“No matter what the Governor or Speaker have said, it is a fundamental principle in this country that no one has the power to arrest their political opponents. That is why this action had to be filed,” Bassett said in a statement.

The nineteen plaintiffs listed are less than the 22 named in the original lawsuit. After the news broke of that lawsuit, at least two of the named plaintiffs claimed their names had been placed on the lawsuit without their permission. As I said before, they are the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. I don’t see the names of state Reps. Senfronia Thompson, Jarvis Johnson, Donna Howard, Shawn Thierry on the list. You may remember from past posts that Rep. Thompson is considered the Grande Dame of state House Democrats and was humiliated by Rep. Mace during a congressional hearing. Mace came with facts, not opinions or Democrat talking points on voter turnouts and alleged voter suppression in Texas. Donna Howard is the lawmaker who posted a photo of her undies on Twitter as she dried them in her hotel room’s bathroom.

The plaintiffs are Reps. Gina Hinojosa, Alma Allen, Michelle Beckley, Jasmine Crockett, Joe Deshotel, Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, Vikki Goodwin, Celia Israel, Ray Lopez, Armando “Mando” Martinez, Trey Martinez Fischer, Ina Minjarez, Christina Morales, Mary Ann Perez, Ana-Maria Ramos, Richard Peña Raymond, Ron Reynolds, Eddie Rodriguez and Ramon Romero, Jr. All of the plaintiffs broke quorum and left the state in July.

The first lawsuit filed by the runaways was done by a lawyer who is practicing while on probation. His name is not one that is listed in the three lawyers who filed for an injunction.

We will see how quickly enough return to provide a quorum in the second special session. It is to begin again at 4:00 p.m. today. Let them explain why they continue to stay away without any success to boast about. They deserve the mocking they are receiving.