Republican Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan signed civil arrest warrants Tuesday for 52 House Democrats who refused to appear for another special legislative session, according to The Washington Post.
Enrique Marquez, Phelan’s spokesman said that warrants were signed for the 52 Democrats who failed to return during the fifth day of the House’s second special session, causing the chamber to be eight members shy of a quorum.
Earlier in the day, the Texas House of Representatives voted 80-12 to bring back the missing Democrats.
According to KXAN, hours prior to the vote, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Republicans were within their rights to force their colleagues to return. The Texas Supreme Court overturned a ruling Tuesday by a Travis County district judge that blocked House members from ordering the arrest of the wayward Democrats, who were in Washington, DC, for about a month.
House Democrats who are arrested, would not face criminal charges and could not be jailed or fined, law enforcement officers could only try to bring them to House chambers. The House Democrats in the suit have until Thursday at 4 PM to respond to the court.
Renae Eze, spokeswoman for Republican Governor Greg Abbott said, "The Supreme Court of Texas swiftly rejected this dangerous attempt by Texas Democrats to undermine our Constitution and avoid doing the job they were elected to do. We look forward to the Supreme Court upholding the rule of law and stopping another stall tactic by the Texas Democrats."
The Democrats fled the state in July to block the passage of an elections bill they claimed would restrict voting rights in the state. Though they successfully stalled the bill during the 30-day specially session which ended Friday, Abbott immediately called for a second special session that began Saturday.
Some House Democrats have returned, but more than 20 Texas House Democrats remain in DC. State Reps. Julie Johnson and Jessica González took the opportunity to vacation in Portugal.
While in DC, several of the House Democrats, who flew to the Capitol mask-less on a private plane, tested positive for COVID and spread it to fellow Democrats while in town.