TEXAS – State Rep. Gene Wu of Houston will temporarily avoid civil arrest if law enforcement tracks down Texas House Democrats that are still absent from the chamber.
On Wednesday, Wu successfully filed a writ of habeas corpus in the 230th District Court of Harris County.
“This is a reminder to Governor Abbott that we still live in a democracy and that we are here as Democrats and as public officials to defend the right to vote,” Wu said.
Wu filed the Writ of Habeas Corpus one day after Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan signed civil arrest warrants for 52 House Democrats still missing from the state Capitol.
The 52 warrants represented all but 15 Democrats in the lower chamber. There were at least 11 present Tuesday during the second special session.
KPRC 2 legal Analyst Brice Wice said filing the Habeas Corpus was the absolute right decision.
“I think what happens next is whether or not Dade Phelan, Speaker of the House, Greg Abbott Governor of The State of Texas or any other interested party or politico attempts to set aside Judge Morton’s order either in the court of appeals or in the court of criminal appeals,” Wice said.
Earlier Tuesday, the House voted overwhelmingly to authorize law enforcement to track down lawmakers absent from the chamber.
That 80-12 vote came hours after the Texas Supreme Court ordered that those missing Democrats could soon be detained by state authorities. The order by the all-GOP court came at the request of Gov. Greg Abbott and Phelan, both of whom had asked the court Monday to overturn a ruling from a state district judge that blocked those leaders from ordering the arrest of the quorum-breaking Democrats.
Rep. Wu issued the following statement in response:
“Today, I asked the court for protection against the Speaker’s arrest warrant. I am pleased to say the court has granted relief, at least temporarily, to prevent anyone from detaining me and dragging me back to the House Floor against my will.
“My legal counsel and I are working on granting the same protection for my fellow Texas House Democrats breaking quorum. We will continue to fight with everything we have to stop Texas Republicans’ efforts to undermine your freedom to vote. The battle is far from over but we are fired up and ready to keep on fighting.”
State Rep. Briscoe Cain also issued a statement in response to the court’s decision:
“The Democrats continue to use every trick in the book to delay the business of the state, including those completely devoid of merit.
“The people of Texas are waiting for our chamber to get to work on providing needed income to our retired teachers, strengthening election integrity, preventing violent criminals from going back on the street, and improving our foster care system.
This marks the latest in a series of silly attempts by them to avoid doing their job after their vacation to Washington ended up with nothing but civil arrest warrants. My colleagues need to come home, get to the Capitol, and get to work.”
According to the Texas Tribune, Wu is expected in court on Thursday.
The Texas Tribune contributed to this article.