Nearly two dozen Texas House Democrats who fled the state last month have sued Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republican officials, alleging that GOP efforts to bring them back to the state Capitol for a special legislative session infringed on their constitutional rights.
The 22 plaintiffs have been “deprived of liberty for substantial periods of time, suffered much anxiety and distress over separation from their families, and much discomfort and embarrassment,” the complaint filed late Friday alleges.
Abbott, House Speaker Dade Phelan and State Rep. James White are all named as defendants in the case.
The lawsuit alleges that the three Republicans have “by public statements and otherwise, to attempt to deny, coerce, threaten, intimidate, and prevent” the Democrats and constituents from voting in elections, speaking publicly about their constitutional rights, and their right to not being arrested without probable cause.
The suit comes after Abbott called for the arrests of more than 50 Texas House Democrats who fled the state in July for Washington, D.C., in a bid to stop a Republican-backed voter integrity bill from passing in a special legislative session.
It was the second time that Texas Democrats staged a walkout on the voting bill, and left the state’s House of Representatives without a quorum to pass the bill.
“Once they step back into the state they will be arrested and brought back to the Capitol and we will be conducting business,” Abbott said last month.
“We have special sessions that last 30 days,” Abbott said. “And the governor calls them, and I will continue calling special session after special session because over time it is going to continue until they step up to vote.”
It was revealed this week that two of the House Democrats who fled are vacationing in Portugal, while the rest remain in the nation’s capital.
The lawsuit also alleges that some of the Democrats were targeted due to race, but did not provide evidence, the Texas Tribune reported. The Democrats’ lawyer, Craig Anthony Washington, is also reportedly practicing law under a probationally suspended license, the outlet noted.
White, meanwhile, told the Texas Tribune he was unaware he had been sued and is unsure why he was named in the suit.
Gov. Abbott’s office did not immediately return Fox News’s request for comment.
The next special legislative session will begin Saturday at noon.