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The oldest civil rights organization in the United States is stepping up to protect any of the Texas House Democrats who might get arrested for effectively blocking the state’s racist proposed election bill from being enacted into law.
Rachel Scott of ABC News reported that the NAACP said it would uphold the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis’ concept of “good trouble” by offering to bail out any of the dozens of House Democrats in Texas who walked out of the legislature’s chamber on Monday to prevent a vote on election restrictions from taking place.
“War has been declared on democracy, and we will support anyone who stands up to defend it,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said. “We are fully invested in good trouble.”
Texas House Democrats staged a coordinated walk out of the chamber on Monday before they boarded a plane and headed to Washington, D.C., to hold a news conference on voting rights outside the U.S. Capitol.
The move in Texas was the latest example of Democrats walking out during a state legislature session in order to thwart a vote on the Republican-led restrictive election laws around the country that are increasingly — and intentionally — making it harder to vote.
Johnson made the generous offer after the Texas chair of the House Administration Committee, a Republican, on Tuesday ordered a motion requiring all state legislators to return immediately for the vote, the Texas Tribune reported. The motion passed, authorizing “the sergeant at arms, or officers appointed by him” to “send for all absentees … under warrant of arrest if necessary.”
There must be at least two-thirds of the 150-member chamber in Texas in order to hold a vote.
It’s unclear what the next move from Texas House Democrats will be.
Johnson tweeted on Tuesday morning his support for Texas House Democrats, who he suggested would have made John Lewis proud.
“The Texas legislature’s efforts to silence the voices of its own constituents is an assault on our most fundamental values,” Johnson tweeted. “This is a dark time, a time for good trouble, as John Lewis would say. The Texas lawmakers who fled the state are demonstrating necessary, good trouble.”
He added in a separate tweet later: “We will not stand idly by as partisan politicians dismantle our system, oppress our voices and suppress our votes. 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 NAACP’s offer to Texas House Democrats came as President Joe Biden was delivering a national address about voting rights. While Biden rightfully called out Republicans’ roles in proposing laws that make it harder to vote locally and nationally, critics were not pleased that the president never once mentioned the possibility of eliminating the filibuster, something he once called a “Jim Crow relic.”
He did, however, refer to the Republican-led voting restrictions as a “21st century Jim Crow assault.”
Responding to Biden’s speech and the need Texas House Democrats felt to walk out in order to avoid the inevitable Republican-led voting laws in their state, CNN analyst Bakari Sellers — noting that Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House — wondered what message Democrats were sending their voters by not forcing their legislation into law.
“If we gave you the majority and you’re not going to do anything, why does [voting] matter?” Sellers asked on the air.
Senate Republicans used the filibuster last month to block the For The People Act from even being debated, let alone being voted on. Doing so effectively allowed Republicans to continue enacting restrictive election laws in their states across the country with impunity.
Days later, the Department of Justice sued Georgia for knowingly passing a racist voting law that “particularly” affects Black people. The lawsuit targets the State of Georgia, the Georgia Secretary of State and the Georgia State Election Board for their roles in passing a law that makes it harder to vote in areas from which voters cast ballots that secured the number of electoral college votes needed for Biden to win and Donald Trump to lose.
Several provisions in Georgia’s new law limit voter participation by requiring those voting by absentee ballot to submit a copy of their ID, reduces the locations and use of secure drop boxes, prohibits the use of mobile voting to ease long lines and allows for state takeover of local boards of election.
The DOJ’s lawsuit suggests there will be more for any of the more than a dozen other states that have enacted at least 20 new laws that make it harder to vote.
There was a bit of irony at play in Texas, where Crystal Mason, a Black woman, famously got arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for voting. On Tuesday, Republicans were threatening to arrest Democrats for not voting.