Texas House Democrats who had fled the Lone Star state to avoid voting on an election reform bill have filed a lawsuit against Gov Greff Abbott (R-TX) and other Republican leaders. They allege the threat made by the governor stating they would be arrested upon return caused “anxiety,” “distress,” and “embarrassment.”
The Texas Tribune reported:
Twenty-two Texas House Democrats sued some of the state’s top Republican leaders in federal court in Austin late Friday, alleging that GOP officials’efforts to bring them home for a special legislative session infringed on their constitutional rights to free speech and to petition the government for redress of grievances.
The lawsuit was filed on the final day of the first special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott — and on the eve of a second specially called legislative session — and names as defendants Abbott, House Speaker Dade Phelan, and State Rep. James White.
The group of over 50 -including the 22 Texas House Democrats flew to Washington, D.C. to prevent a vote on an election and voting reform bill in Texas.
With over 50 House Democrats out of state, the lower chamber of Texas’s legislature cannot have a quorum to conduct business. The Democrats left Texas to protest the proposed legislation to reform elections.
According to the complaint, the Texas House Democrats have been “deprived of liberty for substantial periods of time, suffered much anxiety and distress over separation from their families, and much discomfort and embarrassment.” They further claimed their “reputations” have been “impaired.”
According to KWTX, a CBS affiliate in Waco, TX, “The lawsuit alleges that some Democrats are being targeted because of their race and skin color, but then provides no evidence.” “Democrats’ attorney, Craig Anthony Washington, is a former Democratic lawmaker, who is practicing law under a probationally suspended license, according to the State Bar of Texas,” they added.
The plaintiffs are framed as “victims of a discriminatory scheme” in the lawsuit based on “their protected status.” Abbot, Phelan, and White are all accused of following “deliberate acts of status discrimination.”
KWTX also reported:
[The lawsuit] claims the three Republican lawmakers acted together under the “color of law” to cause the harm alleged in the suit but then points no specific harmful actions other than “public statements.” The lawsuit also says some individual plaintiffs experienced “retaliatory attacks, threats, and attempts at coercion relating to the exercise of their First Amendment rights” but again does not provide specifics.
Despite being vaccinated, three of the Texas Democrats tested positive for the coronavirus while at the capitol.