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Texas House Democrats claim they've been 'deprived of liberty' in lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott
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Texas House Democrats claim they've been 'deprived of liberty' in lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott

Texas House Democrats who fled the state last month to block legislation from becoming law filed a lawsuit against top Texas Republicans late Friday, arguing they have been, among other things, "deprived of liberty."

The news comes after two Texas House Democrats who fled to Washington, D.C., were caught vacationing in Portugal.

What are the details?

Nearly two dozen Texas House Democrats, 22 in all, filed a lawsuit in federal court against Gov. Greg Abbott, House Speaker Dade Phelan (R), and State Rep. James White (R).

The lawsuit argues that Abbott, Phelan, and White are collectively depriving Texas House Democrats of their First Amendments rights to free speech and to petition the government for redress of grievances. The Democrats claim they have been "deprived of liberty for substantial periods of time, suffered much anxiety and distress over separation from their families, and much discomfort and embarrassment," the Texas Tribune reported.

The Democrats even claim they are being targeted because of their skin color, claim they are being harmed, and claim they have been the victims of "retaliatory attacks, threats and attempts at coercion relating to the exercise of their First Amendment rights."

However, as the Texas Tribune noted, the lawsuit provides no evidence of the lawmakers being targeted because of their race, provides no evidence of the alleged harm against them save for "public statements," and fails to provide evidence to corroborate the alleged "retaliatory attacks."

Abbott and Phelan have been urging the lawmakers to return to Texas and fulfill their oaths of office by participating in the legislative process they subverted. Abbott has said the lawmakers will be arrested once they return to Texas.

"Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas Capitol, and we will be conducting business," Abbott told Fox News last month.

According to Texas Tribune, White was not sure why the Democratic lawmakers included him in their lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims only $5 worth of actual damages and $10 of punitive damanges.

Anything else?

The lawsuit was filed one day after Abbott announced that another special legislative session would begin on Aug. 7.

"I will continue to call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity, and pass other important items that Texans demand and deserve. Passing these Special Session agenda items will chart a course towards a stronger and brighter future for the Lone Star State," Abbott said in a statement.

The Texas House Democrats have not yet returned from Washington, D.C., and it's not clear when they will return. But what is clear is that Abbott has promised to continually call special legislative sessions until the legislative items that Democrats blocked are passed.

In a statement, Texas House Democrats noted the new special legislative session does not have a quorum in the Texas House because the House Democrats remain in Washington, and suggested the lawmakers will remain in the nation's capital.

"Texas House Democrats continue in our fight to stop Texas Republicans' efforts to undermine our democracy by passing their anti-voter legislation," the statement said. "Day by day, we will keep fighting with everything we have to protect Texans' freedom to vote."

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