LAREDO, Texas – Attorneys for 11 boycotting senators requested a temporary restraining order (search) Thursday to allow them to return to Texas without fear of arrest.
The Democratic senators left Austin for Albuquerque, N.M., on July 28 to block a Senate quorum and avoid a vote on congressional redistricting. The second special session on redistricting ended Tuesday, but a third one could be called by the governor.
"The Legislature is not in session now, and it makes perfect sense to allow our senators to return to their families and their jobs pending the outcome of the hearing before the three-judge panel," said Renea Hicks, an attorney for the Democrats.
The Democrats have filed a lawsuit alleging the GOP violated their constitutional rights and the Voting Rights Act (search) in pursuing redistricting.
Judge George Kazen is referring the court case to a three-judge federal panel.
In court Wednesday, the two sides discussed the idea of a 72-hour warning before Gov. Rick Perry (search) could call another special legislative session.
Dave Beckwith, a spokesman for Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, said the Democrats' request appears to be an act of desperation.
"I can't believe Judge Kazen will be happy to see this filing," Beckwith said.
The 11 Senate Democrats have agreed among themselves not to return to Texas for fear Perry will call another session they would be forced to attend.