Wisconsin Senate orders that AWOL lawmakers be taken into custody

Fox News reports today:

Senate GOP in Wisconsin Orders Police to Take AWOL Dems Into Custody

[LA replies: As made clear in the story, the headline (above) and the lead paragraph (below) are not correct: (1) the resolution does not order the police, but the legislature’s sergeant at arms, to take custody of the absconding lawmakers and require them to attend sessions. This is different from a legal arrest.]

Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate passed a resolution Thursday calling for police to take 14 Democrats into custody for contempt after they fled to Illinois to avoid voting on a bill that would strip public-sector unions of nearly all their collective bargaining rights.

Republicans voted 19-0 to give Democrats until 4 p.m. Thursday to return to the chamber or be found “in contempt and disorderly behavior.”

The vote comes two weeks after the Democrats left, effectively delaying the vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the action is legally different from an arrest, but “definitely a shift from asking them politely.”

The resolution gives the sergeant at arms the authority to take any and all steps, with or without force and assistance from police, to bring the senators back.

The state Constitution prohibits the arrest of lawmakers while in session unless they’re accused of committing felonies, treason or breach of peace.

But James Troupis, a private attorney hired by Fitzgerald, argued Thursday that the move is legal, because the state Constitution allows each house to “compel the attendance of absent members,” the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 03, 2011 05:36 PM | Send

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