The Hunt Is On: Fugitive Democrats Go Into Hiding

Texas Dems can be dragged into the chambers of the state House to do their jobs, a court has ruled this week.

Dozens of Dem state legislators left Texas last month when faced with an election security bill of which they were against but lacked the votes to stop. Leaving the state to deny the GOP a quorum, which meant the bill was paused.

Texas GOPers have tried to compel the Dems to attend and last week gave civil arrest warrants that would force them to attend.

Democrats have fought against these warrants and won lower court decisions to protect them.

This week, however, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that a temporary restraining order that blocks the arrests was incorrect.

“The issue before this current Court is not if it is a good idea for the State House to arrest absent members to force a quorum,” the court said during its ruling. “Nor is it our question whether the voting legislation is desirable or not. Those are political issues outside of our judicial function.”

“The legal matter before this Court is about only whether the Texas Constitution gives House members the authority to physically force the attendance of absent members.”

“We conclude that this is the case, and we therefore direct the district court to withdraw their TRO.”

In their ruling, the court stated that Dems have it wrong in saying that they could not be compelled to be there.

“We conclude that the provision means what it says,” it stated. “The State Constitution empowers the House to ‘compel absent members to attend and authorizes the House to do this ‘in a manner and under penalties as the House might provide.’”

“The text here is clear, and the understanding of the provision through the history of Texas — including near the time of its enactment — has been that it gives the legislature the ability to physically force the attendance of absent members to get a quorum.”

The ruling said the section “represents a decision by those who created our constitution to counter-balance the minority’s quorum-breaking strategy with a quorum-forcing strategy vested in the members.”

“They patterned this authority on the federal constitution, which has long been said to authorize an arrest to force a quorum,” the court stated. “We are given no reason to doubt that they understood this section to operate as it has been said to operate for many decades after its ratification — to give each chamber the ability to compel the attendance of any absent members, by physical means if needed.”

Author: Scott Dowdy