This article was updated with to reflect additional members who removed their names from the lawsuit at 6:25pm on 8/7/2021.

In a developing story, 22 absent Democrat lawmakers filed a lawsuit late Friday evening against Republican leaders, alleging that they infringed on their constitutional rights to free speech and to petition the government for redress.

The lawsuit names Gov. Abbott, House Speaker Dade Phelan, and State Rep. James White (R–Hillister) as the defendants. It is unclear why White was named as a defendant.

The plaintiffs are listed as Democrat State Reps. Senfronia Thompson (Houston), Trey Martinez-Fischer (San Antonio), Gene Wu (Houston), Vikki Goodwin (Austin), Ron Reynolds (Missouri City), Eddie Rodriguez (Austin), Jon Rosenthal (Houston), Jasmine Crockett (Dallas), Mary Ann Perez (Houston), Alma Allen (Houston), Christina Morales (Houston), Nicole Collier (Ft. Worth), Celia Israel (Houston), Ana-Maria Ramos (Richardson), Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (San Antonio), Terry Meza (Dallas), Donna Howard (Austin), Jarvis Johnson (Houston), Ray Lopez (San Antonio), Shawn Thierry (Houston), Elizabeth Campos (San Antonio), and Gina Hinojosa (Austin).

Of the listed plaintiffs, two (Thompson and Collier) serve as a chairman of current House committees. Additionally, six (Thompson, Allen, Morales, Gervin-Hawkins, Thierry, and Hinojosa) serve as vice chairman of House committees.

The lawsuit claims that some Democrat lawmakers were being targeted because of their skin color and race, but it provides no evidence for such a charge. It goes on to claim that certain Republican lawmakers colluded to cause harm “by public statements and otherwise, to attempt to deny, coerce, threaten, intimidate, and prevent” both the Democrat lawmakers and their constituents from voting in elections, petitioning their government for redress of grievances, using their right of association, publicly speaking about their constitutional rights, and using their right of not being arrested without probable cause.

The lawsuit has been identified as littered with shoddy mistakes. For example, it lists Crockett as a resident of Travis County, even though she currently represents a portion of Dallas County. It incorrectly spells Abbott’s last name as “Abbot” and does not use Phelan’s legal name of Matthew McDade Phelan.

To make matters even more confusing, two of the listed plaintiffs have released statements as of this publication indicating that they did not authorize the use of their name on the suit.

State Rep. Shawn Thierry’s statement said, “I did not request, review, or authorize the filing of the Original Petition naming Governor Abbott, Speaker Phelan, and James White as defendants. This statement reflects my position and is not intended to reflect, or impact, any other named plaintiffs in the legal document.

Similarly, State Rep. Nicole Collier released a statement that said, “I did not authorize nor do I support the Original Petition naming Governor Greg Abbott, Speaker Dade Phelan, and Chair James White as defendants. This statement reflects my position only.”

Both State Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Donna Howard both later submitted their own similar statements indicating that they did not authorize their names to be added to the suit.

The attorney listed on the suit is Craig Anthony Washington, a former Democrat lawmaker. According to the State Bar of Texas, Washington is practicing law under a probationary suspended license.

This story is still developing.

Jeramy Kitchen

Jeramy Kitchen serves as the Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard as well as host of 'This Week in Texas', a show previewing the week ahead in Texas politics. After managing campaigns for conservative legislators across the state, serving as Chief of Staff for multiple conservative state legislators, and serving as Legislative Director for the largest public policy think tank in Texas, Jeramy moved outside of the Austin bubble to focus on bringing transparency to the legislative process.

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