In a demonstrably meritless lawsuit, 22 Texas House Democrats sued some of the state’s top Republican leaders in federal court in Austin over the efforts to bring them home for a special legislative session. After fleeing to Washington, the legislators claim that the criticism and threats made by the governor and other infringed on their constitutional rights to free speech and to petition the government for redress of grievances. Despite recent calls for sanctions and disbarments for frivolous filings by Republicans (which I have expressed concerns over), none of those experts are expressing the same view of this filing, which is shockingly short of legal merit.
Gov. Greg Abbott has called for a second specially called legislative session and he has called for the arrest of members to bring them to the floor for a quorum. Phelan signed a civil warrant for Rep. Philip Cortez, D-San Antonio, after he returned to the Texas. Cortez however then fled back to D.C. The lawsuit sues not only Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan but State Rep. James White. White’s inclusion is particularly curious since the Democratic members are declaring fealty to free speech while trying to sue another members presumably for his exercise of free speech.
The complaint by Craig Anthony Washington, a former Democratic lawmaker, also does not use Phelan’s legal name (Matthew McDade Phelan) but just “Dade Phelan.” It also misspells Abbott’s name on page one as “Abbot.”
Strangely, the counsel on the brief is listed as “Deguren and Dickson.” It is not clear if that is supposed to be DeGuerin and Dickson which has an office at the listed address. There is an email on the complaint reading “email@example.com.”