Is TX Gov right to order arrests for fleeing Democrat lawmakers?
- Gregory Wayne Abbott is the 48th governor of Texas, serving since 2015. He was labeled “best governor in the nation” in 2020, known for his commitment to community, job creation, and quality healthcare.
- On Monday, July 13, 2021, Texas House Democrats left the state to deny the Republicans of passing new election reforms. The Democrats issued a joint statement, “[We] stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote.”
- The following day, Governor Greg Abbott announced the Democrats “will be arrested” when they return to the state.
- According to Texas House rules, legislators are allowed to lock chamber doors during session and can order law enforcement to go after lawmakers with a majority ruling.
- On Tuesday, July 14, 2021, Texas House voted to send law enforcement to the fifty-seven Democratic legislators, and issue warrants for arrest if needed.
Democratic lawmakers fled the state of Texas in order to prevent a quorum and stall a vote on a bill that would restrict voting rights, which appears to be the only tactic available to them at this point in the battle. The bill includes a number of problematic provisions, and the Texas Democrats are simply doing what they feel must be done to protect voters' rights in their state. They hope to use the time they buy themselves with this move to convince Congress to pass federal voting rights protections—specifically, the For the People Act, which has faced heavy opposition from Republicans. If passed, this would 'address and supersede' the issues in the proposed Texas legislation, which the Democrats are concerned about. It could be said that the action taken by Texas Democrats to block the bill in their state is similar to the Republicans in Congress using the filibuster to block the For the People Act.
Rep. Jasmine Crockett, one of the Democrats under discussion, pointed out that Gov. Abbott's threats are mostly empty, explaining that he had previously 'vetoed the legislative branch,' meaning that they have 'no money after September 1' to run the state legislature. Although this may be largely political posturing, the danger to voting rights in Texas is real. As noted by NPR, the state 'already has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. Abbott should drop his threats to both the Democrats from his state and the voting rights of his constituents.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott vows to arrest Democrat lawmakers who unethically fled the state upon implementing voting reforms, taking advantage of a procedural loophole to delay and disturb legislative progress. Regardless of the bill in question, the lawmakers who fled the state displayed a lack of respect for the democratic process that was underway. While Governor Abbott created controversy over his announcement, arresting the lawmakers is justified and sets a precedent as a strong response to partisan immaturity and political corruption, sad consistencies in American politics.
Governor Abbott can certainly facilitate arrests for the lawmakers, using House Speaker Dade Phelan as the key decision-maker. Senate leader Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also has the authority to call on law enforcement to arrest 'truant lawmakers.' Not only does Governor Abbott have every right to orchestrate the arrests of these lawmakers, but he has an opportunity to set a national standard for lawmakers everywhere. Over recent history, the perception of American politics has become plagued with corruption, dishonesty, and ignorance. 75% of Americans say that politicians are generally corrupt, while 70% concur that politicians use political power to hurt others.
These Democrat lawmakers used their collective power to defect from their legislative duties, a deflection of their responsibility to the voters who put them into office. As private jets transported them away from their responsibilities and to the swamp of Washington DC, taxpayers were forced to absolve their debts. Using law enforcement may be the only means necessary to hold these politicians accountable. Governor Abbott has the unique opportunity to redefine bipartisanship and the importance of respecting the procedure and the rule of law.