Texas Democrat Gene Wu, one of 52 state lawmakers threatened with arrest for fleeing the state, has temporarily avoided apprehension after challenging the legality of his arrest warrant in court.
Texas District Court Judge Chris Morton on Wednesday granted the Houston representative a “habeas corpus subpoena,” which essentially allows Wu to remain free until the court determines whether the arrest warrants. civilians for Texas lawmakers are legal, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Wu was among dozens of Texas Democrats who fled their jobs in the state capital of Washington, DC, to avoid voting on new GOP-backed election legislation.
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Wu remained defiant after his court appearance on Wednesday.
“It’s a reminder to Governor Abbott that we still live in a democracy,” Wu said, The Chronicle reported. “We will do everything possible to make sure the right to vote is protected for all Texans.”
When asked if he plans to return to Austin, Wu replied, “No, no.
Wu was teased last month over a social media post where he described himself as a “fugitive” while posting a photo of a salad and misspelling the word “first.”
“My fist [sic] meal as a fugitive, “Wu tweeted, with a photo of a Caesar salad and Coke Zero.” Delicious. “
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Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, a Republican, Posted civil arrest warrants this week for Wu and the fugitive Democratic lawmakers who broke the quorum and thus blocked the GOP’s efforts to pass its election bill.
The civil arrest, which is different from a criminal arrest, would only aim to bring lawmakers back to the state capital to ensure a quorum. The warrants were made possible by a Texas Supreme Court ruling removing a temporary restraining order from a lower court that prohibited the legislature from issuing the warrants.
Republicans say Texas Democrats are shirking their responsibilities as they spend time in Washington, DC, defending S.1, a bill that would massively expand the role of the federal government in state-run elections.
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“Texans don’t shy away from their responsibilities. Neither do elected officials,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a Facebook post reacting to the Texas Supreme Court order earlier this week. “It’s time for Democrats to get back to work.”
Texas Democrats say they will stay in Washington, DC, until their state’s Republicans abandon their efforts to pass their election bill. They also argue that the arrest warrants are illegal.
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“It’s no surprise that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan want to arrest their political opponents,” Democrats said in a statement earlier this week. “Fortunately, it is still the United States of America. We will defend the freedom to vote, and we look forward to our temporary injunction hearing on August 20.”
Fox News’s Tyler Olson and David Rutz contributed to this report.
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