Remember when lawmakers who played shady games to avoid allowing a vote to happen were actually punished? Recently, Texas Democrats fled the state on maskless private flights (with many of them catching COVID and infecting others) to prevent democracy from happening. Lawmakers were poised to vote on multiple bills intended to protect the integrity of the vote. Democrats knew they were beaten and decided to just stop the vote from happening — by running off to Washington. The state House ordered their arrest upon their return to the state, but now a Democrat judge has blocked the arrest of Texas Dems who fled the state.

“If these people want to be hanging out wherever they’re hanging out on this taxpayer-paid junket, they’re going to have to be prepared to do it for well over a year. As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” said of the Democrats. The state House voted to arrest them as soon as they came back to Texas. But 22 of the Democrats filed a lawsuit claiming they are a “protected class” who is suffering from “much anxiety and stress” over attempts to get them to do their jobs. And sadly, at least for now, the lawsuit has been a shocking success in the sense that they have convinced a judge to protect them from facing the music. The Texas Tribune reports:

A state district judge in Travis County issued an order blocking the arrest of House Democrats who have broken quorum by leaving the state, paving the way for those who remain outside of Texas to return home without threat of apprehension.

State District Judge Brad Urrutia, a Democrat, granted the temporary restraining order late Sunday night restricting Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan from “detaining, confining or otherwise restricting” the free movement of House Democrats within the state or issuing any warrants ordering their confinement.

The order expires in 14 days unless extended by Urrutia. The court will hear arguments on a temporary injunction on Aug. 20 where Abbott and Phelan must show why a temporary injunction should not be filed against them.

For the next 14 days, these fugitives can come home, pack clean clothes, manage their affairs, then jet off to D.C. again if they want to. It’s unclear if the vote will ever happen, but Republicans are determined to ensure it will.