View Full Version : Support Democracy - or the Democrat gets it...

14th May 2003, 08:44
From the Torygraph 14 May 2003...

Almost the entire Democratic membership of the Texas House of Representatives has fled to the neighbouring state of Oklahoma, pursued by Texas Rangers.

Arrest warrants were issued on Monday for the return of more than 50 state representatives amid rumours that they had flown to New Mexico or New Orleans.

The politicians fled Texas rather than be forced to vote on a Republican-backed plan to redraw the boundaries of their state's 32 seats in the US Congress. Democrats in the state described the bill as a "power grab".

The fugitive politicians were finally tracked down at a Holiday Inn in the small town of Ardmore, where they were staying under assumed names.

Four Texas police officers, dispatched by the state's Republican governor, confronted two dozen of the representatives, but failed to persuade them to return. They were unable to press the matter further, lacking the power of arrest in Oklahoma.

The dispute has far-reaching consequences for American national politics.

Texas Republicans - who control the state government after more than a century of Democratic dominance - have used their power to draw a series of bizarrely shaped districts, designed to clump together pockets of Republican voters, and split up Democrats. The map is designed to ensure that Texas sends up to seven extra Republican congressmen to Washington at the 2004 elections.

With Democrats unable to vote down the map, they hatched a plan to flee en masse, depriving the 150 seat state house of a quorum, and effectively shutting it down.

Lawyers were hard at work for both sides yesterday, as enraged Republicans struggled to press federal charges against their errant colleagues and drag them home by force.

The original plan called for the 53 Democrats to hide out somewhere near the state capital, Austin. However, they decided they would swiftly be caught, and needed instead to leave the state. Groups of legislators met "team leaders" on Sunday, who led them to two coaches, for a midnight flit across state lines.

When the walkout was discovered, state police, acting for the House sergeant-at-arms, were deputised to seek the Democrats' return, in handcuffs if necessary.

Three missing Democrats appeared at the State Capitol yesterday, one of them in a police car. Their arrival, and the earlier defection of a group of centrist Democrats, brought the number of sitting members to 95 - leaving the chamber five members short of a quorum.

Filed by Gerry Mander....

14th May 2003, 15:04
I would like to believe that had the positions been reversed, it wouldn't have happened. But let's not kid ourselves, eh?

14th May 2003, 18:52
So the answer is to run away?

People voted for delegates to vote on their behalf, not run away on their behalf.

Biggles Flies Undone
14th May 2003, 18:57
Check the name of the guy who wrote the article.......

14th May 2003, 20:49
Think of it as a long-distance filibuster...

14th May 2003, 22:43
This was sad but true. Keep in mind though that the Texas legislature only meets for 2 months (compare to the New York legislature which seems to *always* be in session). http://www.dallasnews.com/latestnews/stories/051403dntexstandoff.1c516.html

Biggles Flies Undone
14th May 2003, 22:53
Bubbette - your link needs registration to access.

Do you really expect us to believe an article written by 'Gerry Mander'?

Send Clowns
14th May 2003, 23:34
The story is true, BFU, according to the Telegraph and the BBC. Clever action on behalf of the representatives. Seems on the face of it to be reasonable action too. Note this is a relatively conservative newspaper describing the "...bizarrely shaped districts..." used to try and distort the election.

The Labour party did this much more subtly in the early/mid 90s in the UK, lobbying the (apolitical) boundaries commission on each change to take it in their favour, while the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats took their eye off the ball. Not really needed in the end, but it has had some effect.

Biggles Flies Undone
14th May 2003, 23:41
OED : 'gerrymander' to divide the constituencies of (a voting area) so as to give one party an unfair advantage

14th May 2003, 23:47
It's free registration; try this link: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/special/03/legislature/1908893 AUSTIN -- More than four dozen defiant Texas Democrats remained holed up in an Oklahoma hotel Tuesday, vowing to keep the state House shut down to kill a congressional redistricting bill being pushed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

15th May 2003, 00:52
Fair play to them! Lets hope one of them has a memorable name so we dont have to refer to it in the future as 'walking to the next state to prevent a quorum being reached on a rediculous vote'.

I think they were elected to represent the views of the electorate, many of whom hopefully agree with their action!

15th May 2003, 01:25
Is there a septic legal eagle about who can explain upon what grounds these people could be arrested?

Puzzled of Blighty

15th May 2003, 01:30
I would guess that it's because they swear to uphold their office, and they are in contempt or because they may be shutting down the political process. I bet one of the articles has something on it.

15th May 2003, 01:48
Good Afternoon All

Yup the story is true. I can't quote the pertinent legal reference, but my memory is that police officers can be directed to arrest politicians and even private citizens in order to attain a quorum and permit the business of government to proceed. Its being done as much for the "TV rating" factor as it is to derail the redistricting. Where you stand on the redistricting is very much determined by whether your ox is getting gored. This is the lighter side of Democracy.

15th May 2003, 04:02
The Texas constitution provides:

Two-thirds of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each House may provide.

Article 3, Section 10

Such a clause is fairly common in U.S. state constitutions, and is part of the U.S. constitution as well.

15th May 2003, 04:33
So presumably, these blokes are in for some grief when they decide to come home?

15th May 2003, 04:35
Um, sorry - it was I who put in the spoof filer name :}

15th May 2003, 05:35
I think that the rules just state that they can be arrested and compelled to attend. Apparently the 'arrested' part just means physically dragged into attendance.

Seeing as this is Texas involved, wonder if one of Dubya's boys will find a way to help out...

15th May 2003, 07:53
According to my Texan sources. It was the Democrats who Gerry Mandered the districts for years. Apparently one representative's district is joined together by single streets as it meanders across the State.

Now of course the Republicans are simply righting the wrong. Yeah right!!!

15th May 2003, 12:09
That's what the dems did where I live, in New York. Look at how they rigged these "districts:" http://www.fairvote.org/redistricting/reports/remanual/ny.htm

Send Clowns
15th May 2003, 20:09
Since the current districts were decided in court rather than, as is usual the house of representatives this should actually be the least political arrangement. Regardless of how the Democrats arrangeds things before I think the changes are unl;ikely to be for the better.

Of course they have now also given a great idea to any Republicans who want to filibuster a districting bill ...