Whoa! WI Senate Orders Arrest Of Fleebaggers

They’re really playing hardball, now:

Senate Republicans Thursday ordered the arrest of their 14 Democratic colleagues, who fled the state two weeks ago to avoid a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial budget repair bill.

It’s unclear whether the resolution to force the senators back to the Capitol is constitutional. The state Constitution prohibits the arrest of legislators while in session unless they’re suspected of committing felonies, treason or breach of the peace.

Democrats say the Republicans have overreached, and have consulted an attorney for an opinion on whether the GOP actions are legal.

Of course,  they wouldn’t be doing it if it were illegal – they’ve dotted their Is and crossed their Ts:

James Troupis, a private attorney hired by Fitzgerald, contended Thursday that the move is legal. He cited a portion of the state Constitution that provides that each house “may compel the attendance of absent members.”

Republicans voted unanimously to give the Democrats until 4 p.m. Thursday to appear before the Senate. The 14 Democrats are believed to be in Illinois. If the senators do not return by the deadline, the Senate agreed to find them “in contempt and disorderly behavior.”

Declared Fitzgerald: “They have pushed us to the edge of a constitutional crisis.”


That means the Senate sergeant at arms can “with or without force” and with or without the help of law enforcement take missing members into custody and bring them to the Capitol.

Hat tip: Weasel Zippers


13 thoughts on “Whoa! WI Senate Orders Arrest Of Fleebaggers

  1. Last I heard, the Governor was going to fine each of them $100/day while they’re playing hooky.

    Looks like he’s upped the ante.

    If any of them have the nerve to file an expense report, they should be shredded (the expense reports, I mean).


  2. I call bollocks on the legality of this move. This should, in theory fall under the constitutionality of a filibuster. A group can leave in order not to get a quorum. It is one of the oldest tricks in the book and both sides have used it throughout history.


  3. This should, in theory fall under the constitutionality of a filibuster.

    No, it isn’t a filibuster when they leave the state to avoid voting on a bill they don’t like. That’s called taking your ball and going home. It’s a dereliction of duty.

    It’s not an acceptable tactic, no matter who has done it in the past, but I would appreciate some cites on times Republicans have done it.


  4. Not having yet served in the Senate (any Senate), I may be a little rusty in the filibuster concept.

    However, a filibuster is not done by scurrying out of the chamber. Not even out to the Senate cafeteria.

    A filibuster is when one member (or a series) takes the floor for a speech. The rules say he can hold the floor for as long as he talks – however long. (For the classic example, see “Mr Smith Goes to Washington”.)

    One of the most striking filibusters was in 1957, when Sen Thurmond (D-SC) spoke for 24 hours 18 minutes – against the Civil Rights Act.

    Democrats have a way about them that does not admit compromise. In May 2002, Texas Democrat House members skipped town to try to defeat a redistricting vote. Later that year, Gov Perry called a special session. You guessed it. Democrat Senators ran away to New Mexico.

    Honorable people do not run away from a fight – or a debate.

    But then we’re talking about Democrat legislators here.


  5. Actually, I am pretty sure it falls under the same ruling. It is, like a filibuster, a way of delaying votes. They are covered under similar rulings. You can decide not to show and this force no quorum. It is an old tactic. I want to know how any of these claims of arrest can be talked about. Technically, since there is no quorum, these Republicans shouldn’t even be meeting to vote on anything.


  6. I’m…pretty sure you’re wrong.

    Unlike a filibuster, where the intent is to debate and potentially amend legislation they don’t like, the outnumbered, craven Dems just ran away because they know their opponents lack enough members for quorum. It’s a complete abdication of political responsibility, and I’m appalled that anyone would defend it.

    I STRONGLY suspect that if Republicans in the US House or Senate had behaved this way during the ObamaCare votes, you would not have defended it.

    I didn’t like the legislation that was moving through Washington the last two years — I didn’t like cap and trade, I didn’t like ObamaCare, I didn’t like the stimulus. But I didn’t walk out. We stayed and did our jobs. We voted, we tried to amend, we made our debates . . . Elections have consequences. They won, we lost. That’s the way it works. So I just don’t understand this lack of respect for the rule of law.”

    — Congressman Paul Ryan


  7. No, doubt I respect Congressman Ryan for standing his ground. What is happening here is indeed an abdication of power. If I was a constituent of any of these politicians I would be angry I was not being represented. The fact still remains that there is technically no rule against this…only the Governor can bring them back now. The republicans did this in the New York Senate last summer and it took two weeks for Patterson’s police call to track them all down to force the vote. It got done but it took a damned long time to do it.


  8. Did you call bollocks on the legality of Patterson’s move to have police track them down and force them to vote, last summer? (cite please) Because that’s all that Walker is doing.


  9. If you search back through New York Senate record to June of 2010 (sorry it was last year, not two years ago, minor fault there) there should be news concerning the budget vote for the State of New York. Both sides actually took turns walking out. First the Republicans, then the Democrats, then the Republicans again. That fact that Pedro Espada kept switching parties basically exacerbated matters. It was a really dark period but the Empire State somehow got through it.

    I merely called out the legality of the senate passing the order for police to bring them back. It is something only the governor can do at this point. Then again, that is the rule in New York…not being from WI I can’t say with full certainty what their statutes are. Perhaps if there is anyone versed in WI law, they can be of assistance in this matter.


  10. The Wikipedia entry on the crisis has it happening June/July 2009, and it was a totally different, more complicated situation – with the house fairly evenly split (with, like you said, one guy switching back and forth.)


    The Dems in WI are clearly outnumbered, the voters spoke in Nov, and they are basically throwing a temper tantrum because they don’t want their power structure messed with. This is not a filibuster, it is a dereliction of duty.


  11. “Does the Wisconsin Senate have the power to compel absent Democratic senators to return to the senate floor if they re-enter the state of Wisconsin? Yes.”
    Says Jim Lindgren:

    I would hope that those who rely on the arrest clause of the state constitution would deal with the fact that the privilege against arrest applies “in all cases.” These commentators might try to argue that the drafters of the Wisconsin — and by implication, US – Constitutions meant “in all instances” when they wrote “in all cases.”



  12. Well then, reckon that will cover that. As presaid, in NY we have to wait for the Governor to move. WI is lucky to have a law like that. Still question its constitutionality though.


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