Legal expert breaks down Democratic lawmakers’ walk out, Gov. Abbotts call for their arrest

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 11:07 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Texas Democrats remain in Washington, D.C. Tuesday after fleeing the state in protest of Republican-backed voting bills.

Democrats spoke in a press conference Tuesday calling on federal lawmakers to pass a federal voting bill.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, Republicans voted to pass what is called a “call of the house.” Legal expert and Bryan attorney Shane Phelps breaks down what that means.

“It is to send out law enforcement officers to arrest them and bring them back to the chambers, but that’s only if these legislators are in Texas,” said Phelps. “The difficulty becomes if they have left the state of Texas, there is no real jurisdiction to reach out to other states and arrest them.”

Phelps says that is exactly why they fled out of state. District 5 State Senator Charles Schwertner says he remains in Austin, and believes what his Democrat counterparts are doing is unfortunate and unproductive.

“They need to get back here. We need to have vigorous debates about the things and issues that affect the people of Texas and come to some finality to that issue through the legislative process. Running away doesn’t solve anything,” said Schwertner.

Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott called for the arrest of the Democratic lawmakers when they return to the state.

“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas they will be arrested and they will cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get the job done,” said Gov. Abbott.

Phelps says this is a legal action, but that if arrested, it would not lead to criminal charges.

“It’s not a criminal offense. These arrest warrants they are talking about are simply a mechanism the legislature can use to go actually physically bring legislators back to the chamber to constitute a quorum,” said Phelps.

With no end in sight at the moment, Phelps says something has to give.

“The problem with this is that the governor has threatened to continue to call special sessions over and over and over again which could effectively banish these legislators out from Texas, and at some point somethings going to happen,” said Phelps.

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