Texas: The People’s Filibuster derails The Great Texas Screwjob…for now, anyway…


By Craig McDermott, cross-posted from Random Musings


By now, most people who care about this sort of thing are aware that in Texas, State Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered their SB5 yesterday.  SB5 would have all but completely banned abortion services in Texas.

Republicans in the Texas lege tried and failed to pass the provisions
of the bill during the regular session of the legislature.  Upset by
that failure, they called a special session to railroad through all of
the provisions in one measure.

However, under the rules
governing specials sessions in Texas, they have a limited amount of
time to pass bills and once that time is gone, any unpassed bills die.

Davis was attempting to hold the floor until the time for the special session expired.

Republicans in the Texas state senate pulled out all the stops in their
attempts to break the filibuster.  They used hyper-technical
interpretations of the rules of the Senate, openly ignoring those rules,
and just plain cheating.

They forced her off of the
floor but the other Democrats in her caucus took up the fight, mostly
using points of parliamentary inquiry to run out the clock.  Call it
“legislative stall ball”.

And when it looked like that
the Rs we just going to ride roughshod over democracy and women in TX,
hundreds of citizens in the Senate gallery just started cheering.

Loudly enough to drown out the Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the conductor of the railroad chair of the Texas State Senate.

And long enough to finish running out the clock on the special session.

From the Dallas Morning News, written by Christy Hoppe and Claire Z. Cardona –

A bill that would have given Texas one of the most restrictive
abortion laws in the country died amid chaos at the end of the special
legislative session overnight.

After Republicans used strict
interpretations of Senate rules to knock Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth,
off her marathon filibuster intended to block a vote on the measure
before the midnight Tuesday deadline, abortion-rights advocates watching
the session erupted in a loud protest.


Shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday, a very upset Lt. Gov.
David Dewhurst finally came to the dais to address the press and chamber
on the fate of Senate Bill 5 and the crowd that at times drowned out
the proceedings.

“Members, the constitutional time for the first
called session for the 83rd Legislature has expired,” Dewhurst said.
“Senate Bill 5 cannot be signed in the presence of the Senate at this
time and therefore cannot be enrolled. It’s been fun, but, uh, see you

“This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my
life,” Dewhurst continued. “An unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street
tactics has tried all day to derail legislation that has been intended
to protect the lives and the safety of women and babies. So I’m very



I didn’t watch the entire filibuster, tuning in to the live feed at the website of The Texas Tribune with around two hours to go (got to see the “People’s Filibuster” part though; more than a little proud of my fellow citizens for that).

During the period that I watched the proceedings live, the best line was actually delivered by State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte.
After repeatedly trying to gain recognition so she could speak, but
repeatedly being ignored by the chair, she was finally granted leave to
speak.  Upon which, she asked

“At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be
recognized over her male colleagues?” she asked as the chamber erupted
in cheers.


Lydia DePillis of the Washington Post has a good summary of the events surrounding last night’s happenings here.

The New York Times has coverage here, including video links.

Texas blog Juanita Jean’s| The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc. has coverage here.

However, almost even before the echoes of the cheers of the protesters faded at the Texas capitol, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Good Hair), like would-be tinhorn despots everywhere who find their wills thwarted, threw a tantrum and called a do-over.

From CBS News

Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday called a second special session of the
Texas Legislature to pass widespread abortion restrictions across the
nation’s second-largest state, after the first attempt by Republicans
died overnight following a marathon one-woman filibuster.

ordered lawmakers to meet again on July 1 to act on the abortion
proposals, as well as separate bills that would boost highway funding
and deal with a juvenile justice issue. The sweeping abortion rules
would close nearly all the state’s abortion clinics and impose other
widespread restrictions.

Let women, the Texas Democrats, and all of us, enjoy Tuesday’s victory.  The hard work starts again Monday.


  1. The Texas filibuster was inspiring to watch. Congratulations to state Sen. Wendy Davis & state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte who left her father’s funeral to attend the session. After Sen. Davis had lost the floor, Sen. Van De Putte’s question asking what it takes for a woman’s voice to be heard in the Texas Senate brought forth cheering from the gallery that prevented the vote from being taken. It was a team effort and showed the importance of calling out the Republicans when they use strong arm tactics to enforce their will on others. Even if the draconian abortion bill is passed in the second special session, it’s evil effects have at least been delayed, and the GOP’s hostility to women has been highlighted. It also reaffirms the principle that showing up to voice your opinion is crucial. That’s something.