Round ’em up.
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.
“The Republicans have gone around the bend,” said Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee. “They’ve just increased their bullying tactics and are producing an even greater divide in our state.”
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.”
The Senate also voted to institute a “call of the house,” which is the mechanism used to compel senators to return to the chamber.
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.