After the Texas GOP House Speaker approved 52 warrants for state Democrats who are absent from the state Legislature special session, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called on the Justice Department to investigate.
"I write on behalf of the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in the United States, on behalf of those persons in Texas fearful of a government that has determined it need not abide by the U.S. Constitution, and may arrest and imprison citizens for their political beliefs," NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson wrote to assistant attorney general for the DOJ's Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke on Thursday.
The NAACP alleges that authorizing state police to locate the Democrats "under warrant of arrest if necessary" is working to "threaten" political minorities, the Washington Examiner reported.
"There is no allegation that any of the Democrats to be arrested has committed any crime," Johnson added. "In short, the state of Texas government has decided that the First, Fourth, and Thirteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution are ineffective in Texas."
Texas GOP House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, said he was acting lawfully in calling for the fleeing state Democrats to be brought back to the Capitol to restore a quorum in the state Legislature.
"The Texas Supreme Court will be the ultimate arbiter on this issue," Phelan spokesperson Enrique Marquez told The Texas Tribune on Thursday. "Speaker Phelan feels confident in the arguments that were made and we expect a timely resolution of this issue in the immediate future. The Supreme Court's ruling will be binding across the entire state."
Three state district judges in Houston signed restraining orders to protect more than 40 of the Texas Democrats from civil arrest, according to state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, speaking to the Tribune.
Judge Chris Morton of the 230th Criminal District Court signed an order protecting Wu from arrest Wednesday and two other judges joined Morton to protect the others, according to the Tribune.
"Now, 44 of my colleagues have the same protections I have, at least temporarily," Wu said in a statement. "Nobody can detain or drag us back to the House floor against our will."
Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott rebuked the legal back-and-forth calling it "just another stall tactic in a long line of stunts by the Texas Democrats, all of which have failed," adding the court "swiftly rejected [their] dangerous attempt to undermine our Constitution."
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