AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday halted a Harris County judge’s order that was protecting absent House Democrats from being arrested, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.
This means any missing Democrat who is in Texas could be detained and compelled to appear at the Capitol by state law enforcement officials.
“The Dems have filed some of the most embarrassing lawsuits ever seen. Time for them to get to the Capitol and do the job they were elected to do,” Abbott tweeted Thursday.
On Wednesday, 52 civil arrest warrants for the missing Democrats were served by the Texas House Sergeant-at-Arms. House Democrats are breaking quorum during this second special session to try and prevent GOP-backed voting regulations legislation from passing.
At least 45 House Democrats, including Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston), filed a temporary restraining order or similar measure against the arrests, which a district court in Harris County granted. However, that Harris County decision was struck down by the Texas Supreme Court Thursday.
A spokesperson for House Speaker Dade Phelan, who signed off on the civil arrest warrants earlier this week, said the arrest process will begin “immediately.”
“Earlier today the House Sergeant-at-Arms deputized members of Texas law enforcement to assist in the House’s efforts to compel a quorum. That process will begin in earnest immediately,” the spokesperson said.
These arrests do not mean criminal charges for Democrats, and they can’t be jailed or fined. But, it allows law enforcement officers to bring them into the House chambers and thus reach a quorum for voting to take place.
Previously, the Texas Supreme Court also overturned a separate ruling by a Travis County district judge that blocked Abbott and Phelan for calling for the arrest of absent Democrats.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more details become available.