This week, a group of Democratic members of the Texas state House abruptly left the state in the middle of a special legislative session, thereby eliminating the quorum required to conduct certain legislative business. Texas Democrats undertook that move as Republicans in the state seek to enact a suppressive set of new voting restrictions, including a ban on drive-thru voting, limits on using ballot drop boxes, and more. During an appearance on Fox, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott insisted that the Democrats who left would be “arrested” upon their eventual return to the state — but on CNN, Texas state Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D) showed him up, insisting that she’s not concerned.
Asked if she was concerned, Crockett commented as follows:
‘I don’t worry probably because I know the law, and the governor knows the law as well. I’m a criminal defense attorney, and so I understand that I’ve not committed a crime, so I can’t get arrested. The most that could happen is I could be detained, and it’s not the governor that gets to make that decision. It’s the Speaker of the House.’
There is a provision allowing for the detention of members of the Texas legislature who conduct themselves as these Democrats have, but Texas authorities only have jurisdiction within the state. On CNN, Crockett drew a sharp distinction between “arrests” and the detentions of legislators that are allowed to take place. Further, as she noted, Abbott doesn’t even have direct control over carrying out such detentions. That’s the responsibility of the speaker of the Texas state House.
Interestingly, Crockett also noted that due a previous veto by Abbott of a bill providing funding for the legislature, money that would allow the legislature to conduct all of its work is slated to run out in about a month and a half. Abbott vetoed that funding bill after Democratic legislators launched a previous walk-out in May, at which time they also eliminated the quorum that was required to take action on a restrictive elections bill.
Crockett also addressed the substance of the suppressive election restrictions that have again come up for consideration. The proposed restrictions include a ban on 24-hour voting, and she noted that legislators “heard testimony… from first responders, those that have been on the front lines of COVID-19, saying, “Hey, 24-hour voting was a deal-changer for us; We could go on shift, work for 24 hours, and know that we could still participate in democracy.”” Crockett added as follows:
‘What we saw is the people that took advantage of…. drive-thru voting, the vast majority were minorities. That’s the problem. That was the target.’
Watch Crockett’s comments below:
Texas state Rep. Jasmine Crockett says she is not afraid of Gov. Abbott’s threat to jail Democrats who fled the state to block the GOP's latest restrictive voting law.https://t.co/TnuDaOdAl5 pic.twitter.com/qpCmZ5h26G
— New Day (@NewDay) July 13, 2021