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Texas Legislative Black Caucus The chair, state Rep. Nicole Collier (D), joined by fellow Democratic state representatives, speaks during a news conference. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Texas Democrats sued some of the state's top Republican leaders on Friday, alleging that GOP efforts to get Democrats to return to Texas for a special legislative session infringes on their First Amendment rights.

Driving the news: The lawsuit was filed one night before a special legislative session — called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — was set to convene in an effort to pass restrictive new election laws, the Texas Tribune reported.

  • The lawsuit, filed by 22 House lawmakers in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, names Abbott, GOP House Speaker Dade Phelan and state Rep. James White as defendants.
  • The suit alleges they have tried to "deny, coerce, threaten, intimidate and prevent" members and their constituents from exercising their rights to "vote in all elections," "peacefully assemble to redress their grievances," "speak publicly about the exercise of their constitutional rights," "of association," "security of person," and "freedom from arrest, except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation."
  • The Democrats who filed the suit are asking for $5 in actual damages and $10 in punitive damages.

What they're saying: "Texas House Democrats continue in our fight to stop Texas Republicans’ efforts to undermine our democracy by passing their anti-voter legislation," Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement.

  • "Day by day, we will keep fighting with everything we have to protect Texans’ freedom to vote," he said.

The big picture: Abbott called a special legislative session, his third attempt, for this weekend to push his election bill, which puts limits on whether people can vote early, vote by mail or vote from their cars.

  • The proposed bill also includes provisions that would increase the spending of federal COVID-19 relief funds and potentially change the legislative rules regarding quorums.
  • Phelan adjourned the chamber until Monday because not enough Democrats showed up at the Capitol on Saturday to reach the required quorum for the special legislative session, AP reports.

Go deeper: Texas Gov. Abbott announces special legislative session to push voting restrictions

Go deeper

RNC woos Texas Latinos

A pro-Trump protester in Austin, Texas, after Joe Biden's victory. Photo: Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican National Committee is working to court more conservative Hispanic voters in south Texas, even as the state's GOP majority uses redistricting to blunt demographic changes that should be empowering Hispanic representation and helping Democrats.

Driving the news: The RNC is opening a Hispanic community center in San Antonio on Monday. It's the third such outreach center the party has opened in south Texas this year.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Oct 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Congress begins yearend sprint

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The House and Senate face an onslaught of deadlines key to fulfilling members' campaign promises and keeping the government afloat as they return from recess this week.

Why it matters: The next few weeks will be pivotal to enacting President Biden's agenda — and determining how the Democratic Party fares in the midterm elections.