About two dozen state Democrats filed a lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for allegedly causing “distress,” “anxiety,” and “embarrassment” after they left the state to deny the Republican majority in the House the ability to start a special legislative session over a voting overhaul bill.
The lawsuit was filed by 22 House Democrats against Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan, both Republicans, late last week. Abbott has called for the arrest and detainment of dozens of Democrats who left the state last month, while Phelan placed the chamber under a call to regain the quorum, citing the Texas Constitution, and later signed an arrest warrant for Democrat Rep. Philip Cortez.
The lawsuit also claims that some Democrats are being targeted because of their race and skin color but provides no evidence.
But the bulk of the suit (pdf) alleged that Abbott, Phelan, and other Republicans in the House attempted to “deny, coerce, threaten, intimidate, and prevent” the Democrats and their constituents from voting in all elections, petitioning the government for redress of grievances, speaking publicly about their constitutional rights, exercising their right of association and their right to not being arrested without probable cause” due to their public statements.
The lawsuit claims $5 in actual damages and $10 in punitive damages.
Reps. Senfronia Thompson, Trey Martinez Fischer, Gene Wu, Vikki Goodwin, Ron Reynolds, Eddie Rodriguez, Jon Rosenthal, Jasmine Crockett, Mary Ann Perez, Alma Allen, Christina Morales, Nicole Collier, Celia Israel, Ana-Maria Ramos, Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, Terry Meza, Donna Howard, Jarvis Johnson, Ray Lopez, Shawn Thierry, Elizabeth Campos, and Gina Hinojosa joined the suit.
However, according to the Texas Tribune, Thierry said on Saturday that she didn’t want to partake in the lawsuit.
“I did not request, review or authorize the filing,” she said in a statement.
What’s more, the attorney used by the Democrats, Craig Anthony Washington, is practicing law in Texas under a probationally suspended license, the state bar says.
The Epoch Times has contacted Phelan’s and Abbott’s offices for comment.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Texas Democrats refused to come back to the state Capitol as Abbott started his third attempt to pass the voter overhaul bill. The Democrats, ostensibly, remain in Washington D.C. after leaving the Lone Star State for the nation’s capital in mid-July.
“A quorum is not present,” said Phelan, who then adjourned the chamber until Monday.
Two of the Democrats who left for Washington last month returned to Austin on Saturday, with one telling CBS News that his colleagues may make their return home in the near future.
“I was encouraged that the baton would be carried by my Washington colleagues at the federal level, that there would be sweeping reform nationwide,” Rep. Eddie Lucio III said.
Republican state Representative Jim Murphy, chairman of the House Republican Caucus, said he, too, believes they will return soon.
“People are talking to their friends, and we think we’re going to see quite a few more,” he said, according to the network.
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.