Texas judge temporarily blocks arrests of lawmakers who fled state over elections bill

A Travis County, Texas, judge has temporarily blocked the arrests of the Democratic lawmakers who fled the state to prevent the passage of an elections reform bill, the Austin American-Statesman reported on Monday.

District Judge Brad Urrutia on Sunday signed the temporary restraining order, blocking attempts from Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottVicente Gonzalez to run in different Texas district after Abbott signs new map Abbott signs sports bill targeting transgender students in Texas Abbott signs new Texas congressional maps into law MORE (R) and state House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) from restricting, detaining or confining the lawmakers, paving the way for them to safely return to the state.

The move had been requested Friday by 22 members of the state House, the American-Statesman reported

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The order applies to the state’s House sergeant-at-arms, the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS), Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies.

“Angry Republican threats to dispatch troopers to arrest, cuff, shackle, drag in, and cabin duly-elected lawmakers isn’t just meant to chill our speech and impair our ability to represent our districts; it has left our families, friends, and neighbors anxious for our wellbeing and safety,” state Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D) said in a written statement.

The Texas Democrats are seeing to deny Republicans a legislative quorum to prevent the passage of a GOP-backed elections bill that critics say amounts to voter suppression.

A civil arrest warrant was issued for Rep. Philip Cortez (D), but he returned to the state in order to work with his counterparts on changes to the election bill, the Austin newspaper reported. 

Twenty-six of the lawmakers said they plan to stay in D.C. in order to push for the passing of federal voting rights measures, the Austin newspaper noted.