Nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers sued Gov. Greg Abbott and other state GOP leaders – claiming efforts to bring them back to Austin for a special session violated their rights.
The 22 members of the Texas House, who’d skipped town to avoid a vote on a controversial election reform bill, claim the Saturday special session infringed on their constitutional rights to free speech.
Without the lawmakers present, the House lacked a quorum and couldn’t approve any measures.
The lawsuit alleged “retaliatory attacks, threats and attempts at coercion relating to the exercise of their First Amendment rights” as well as racial discrimination against some of the lawmakers, but no specific evidence was presented, according to the outlet.
The plaintiffs were “deprived of liberty for substantial periods of time, suffered much anxiety and distress over separation from their families, and much discomfort and embarrassment,” the lawsuit reportedly alleged.
The attorney for the litigating Democrats is an ex-lawmaker practicing law under a probationally suspended license, the article said.
At least two lawmakers named as plaintiffs made public statements claiming they were wrongly included in the lawsuit, according to the report.
“I did not request, review or authorize the filing,” Rep. Shawn Thierry reportedly said.
The voting bill the lawmakers are trying to block reportedly bans drive-through voting, adds new ID requirements for mail-in ballots, and makes it a crime for local officials to send ballot applications to voters who haven’t requested them.