Question about the fleeing Wisconsin Democrats

On what basis are they involving the police in this? Surely a senator failing to show up in the capitol isn’t a criminal offense. Can the senators be arrested if caught, dragged in handcuffs to the capitol, or even be put in jail?

I heard a radio discussion about this yesterday, and don’t remember all the deatils, but essentially they said the Governor does have the authority, under Wisconsin’s Constitution, to compel legislatures to show up to votes by force.

It’s a moot point anyway since the Dems have left the state and are now in Illinois.

Most state legislatures have empowered their officers to compel legislators to appear when a quorum call is made, specifically to make quorum-busting more difficult.

This is why, when state legislators pull this kind of stunt, they often flee across state lines. A bunch of Democrats in Texas did the same thing a few years ago. They met up at a hotel in Oklahoma.

The Sergeant at Arms is directed to locate and bring back elected members who don’t show up. Even the Congress has a Sergeant at Arms for this purpose.

In Wisconsin’s case, the Sergeant at Arms directed the State Patrol to find and bring back the missing legislators. However, the State Patrol is not making a real attempt at this and there are reports if any legislators are actually located in the state the State Patrol is not compelling them to return.

Plus, as Dio says, even the State Troopers can’t apprehend them in Illinois.

okay, so what about federal marshals, or the FBI? After all, the runaways have crossed state lines while breaking the law *. Doesn’t inter-state criminal activity automatically fall under Federal authority?

*(assuming there is a law requiring them to obey the governor’s quorum call, just like ,say, a call for jury duty. Or in the 1960’s, a call to report at the local army draft board.)

I doubt it, since this really isn’t a federal matter.

There is no law being broken here and certainly not a federal one.

Legislatures generally have a mechanism to force a quorum. This generally entails the police going out and rounding them up. They will be brought forcibly if necessary.

No one is going to jail for it.

When the legislators are in another state then there is nothing that can be done. No crime was committed and a different state will not send police to round up legislators from another state for the sole purpose of returning them. Not their problem and they don’t want to get involved.

For federal congresscritters they’ll get the Federal Marshals after them and those folks can arrest anywhere in the US (and would then drag the congresscritter back to congress). They’ll carry you bodily into the chamber if they have to.

Again though, beyond compelling their attendance no one is under arrest for a crime.

Depends if it would be a criminal charge in both Wisconsin and Illinois (which I doubt). Like this: ignoring a bill can get you into a lawsuit – a civil action. But they cannot put you in jail for losing that lawsuit. I cannot offhand think of anything you can be compelled to do by physical action other than appear in court, serve on a jury, etc., which is its own special category of contempt of court for failure to do so, where refusing to do what you’re told is a civil offense but not a criminal one. But I have a hunch that responding to a governor’s call to a legislative session is one. And then Illinois officials have to choose to pursue extradition against Wisconsin legislators – which I think they probably would not.

Over and above which, I suspect strongly that the U.S. Code does not have a criminal offense of “Crossing State Lines to Avoid a Legislative Session” – it’s not that the Federal government can arrest people for crossing state lines to avoid any and all criminal charges – its that there are federal offenses of crossing state lines to avoid prosecution for murder, for robbery, for arson, for burglary, for rape, etc. Even if driving a car at 80 in a 55 MPH zone is a criminal offense in some state (I think it technically is here in NC), there needs to be a Federal offense of crossing state lines to avoid prosecution for speeding for the Feds. to step in.

I’m not sure about Wisconsin, but isn’t the Governor typically in charge of the State Police? If so, why doesn’t he light a fire under someone to start arresting legislators?

A) The legislators are almost certainly not in Wisconsin and the Wisconsin troopers cannot get people in another state

B) The police are showing solidarity with the teachers. While the police, troopers and firemen are exempt from the law the attack on a union is not lost on them so they have no desire to see the Governor succeed

C) Not sure what the Governor can do. All the troopers need to say is they haven’t found anyone. Even if they had how would the governor know?

Just as an aside, I was in the WI Capitol building when the Dems walked out. Lots of high-fives and a huge roar from the crowd.

I thought the bagpiping and the Taiko drumming from the local high school was ear-splitting, but no, thousands of “laborers” can fill a dome-shaped building with a deaaaaaaaaafening sound.

IIRC, when Texas Dems went to Oklahoma to avoid a redistricting scheme, someone (Tom Delay?) obtained the registration number of a charter airplane some of the Dems used and tried to involve the FAA in running them down; I don’t remember all the details. The long and short of it was the redistricting scheme was pushed through although I think I remember a lot of arguments about the legality of it all. I think if Wisconsin had any re-call procedures on the books, their new Governor would be gone in a week.

It does. The governor has to be in office for at least a year and it takes 25% of voters to sign the petition.

They walked out to the accompaniment of bagpipes and taiko? Damn, when the Wisconsin Dems do nothing, they do it in style.

However, nine of the Republican senators have been in their jobs for a year and eligible for recall already.

Oh, the politicians had nothing to do with all the pagentry or the fun rhyming chants or the people singing “Walk Like An Egyptian” or the string quartet from a local high school performing “America the Beautiful” or the impromptu parody Dylan songs or the huge PA systems blasting AC/DC…

… that’s the power of the people, man.

If he’d be gone in a week, how did he get elected in the first place?

Would only union workers be allowed to vote?

Lots of people vote based on religious issues, party lines, or name-recognition without knowing much about the candidate in question. Especially for non-federal politics where it doesn’t seem “as important” as who wins the Presidency.

Read post #19.