Travis County judge rules against Abbott’s arrest orders

by | Aug 9, 2021 | Politics, Texas Legislature

A Travis County District Court judge ruled in favor of a temporary restraining order on Sunday to prevent Gov. Greg Abbott from arresting State House Democrats who broke quorum and fled to Washington D.C. last month and have repeatedly received threats of arrest from the governor.

According to Judge Brad Urrutia, the new temporary restraining order prevents Abbott or Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan from, “detaining, confining, or otherwise restricting a Texas House Democrat’s movement without his or her consent so as to interfere substantially with his or her liberty within the State of Texas.”

The order expires in two weeks.

It comes after more than a dozen Texas House Democrats filed a lawsuit in response to threats by Abbott.

“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas capitol until they get their job done,” Abbott said in July when Democrats broke quorum.

“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,” said Attorney Samuel E. Bassett in a statement. “That is why this action had to be filed.”

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said Democratic members were not animals or property to be corraled by law enforcement and cabined against their will.

“It is morally wrong to believe otherwise,” Fischer said. “We will not allow our democracy to devolve into dictatorship; we will use every tool necessary to defend the Constitution.”

The second special session called by Abbott marks the third attempt by Texas Republicans to pass legislation that would make it more difficult to access the vote. The special session began on Saturday but was adjourned until Monday due to the lack of members present. 

“Day by day, we will keep fighting with everything we have to protect Texans’ freedom to vote,” Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner said Saturday.

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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