The NAACP said it will offer to pay bail for Texas Democrats, who are currently being threatened with arrest for leaving the state in a last-ditch attempt to block Republicans’ state voter suppression bill.
“War has been declared on democracy, and we will support anyone who stands up to defend it,” President Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “We are fully invested in good trouble.”
More than 50 state lawmakers boarded two charter planes for Washington on Monday, in a dramatic move that effectively halts the Texas House of Representatives, which requires a two-thirds quorum in order to move legislation. While the Texas Democratic Caucus’s chair described the move as “buying some time,” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott threatened the lawmakers with arrest.
“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” Abbott told KVUE-TV in Austin. Video shared by state Rep. Shawn Thierry (D) showed a House Sergeant entering her office with a Texas trooper and asking staff about her whereabouts, as well as informing them she would be apprehended and taken to the locked House chamber. Thierry was on her way to Washington at the time.
The state Democratic lawmakers plan to remain outside of Texas through the end of the current special legislative session ending Aug. 7, but the NAACP said that those who left the state to preserve voting rights deserve to be supported in their endeavors ― including covering any bail from potential arrests.
Johnson invoked the late congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis, who had marched, been beaten and arrested for fighting for Black Americans’ right to vote. Lewis often used the term “good trouble” to describe his uphill battle in the struggle for civil rights ― a term the NAACP president is now using to describe the Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled the state to prevent the legislature from eroding voting rights.
“We will not stand idly by as partisan politicians dismantle our system, oppress our voices and suppress our votes,” Johnson tweeted earlier on Tuesday. “People have fought and died for the sacred right to vote. This is a time of crisis. Our constitution is being tested, and we need all hands on deck.”
The Texas Democrats are meeting on Tuesday with Vice President Kamala Harris and, separately, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to talk strategy for protecting voting rights at the local level by passing legislation at the federal level. President Joe Biden also delivered a speech on voting rights Tuesday, in part to assuage concerns from voting activists and organizations that he and his administration are not pushing hard enough for federal legislation.
Multiple groups said that while they appreciated Biden slamming Republicans for introducing and passing state-level restrictive voting legislation on the basis of a lie, the president needed to go even further and voice support for ending the Senate filibuster so that Congress can actually pass voting rights legislation.
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