Wisconsin orders arrest of missing Democrats. Legal?

(This may be a GQ question but given the political heat surrounding this figured GD was better…feel free to move if I posted here in error.)

According to the Wisconsin State journal:

So, is that legal?

If it is legal would that oblige any other state to arrest those senators on Wisconsin’s behalf and send them back to Wisconsin?

If other states technically would have an obligation (assuming for the moment they do) and the other state ignores it is there anything that could be done about it?

I doubt it. Assuming it’s constitutionally allowed, it still seems, to me, to be a state procedural matter.

If the missing representatives were accused of (or wanted for), an actual crime, I think it might be a different story. Then, we’d be talking about extradition. (Compare this to someone who is wanted for murder in Wisconsin, and is known to be hiding out in Illinois.)

Can legislators actually order an arrest through legislation?

And if arrested, is it proper to bring them to the legislative chambers instead of to the police station to be processed?

How did they pass the legislation without a quorum?

Can a “resolution” passed by one chamber of a two-chamber body be legally binding, even if all other things were passed muster?

Can’t the US Congress send federal marshals after AWOL members to force a quorum?

Of course Wisconsin is not the Feds but presumably they’d compel attendance the same way (I am guessing…I have no clue).

As I recall they can pass legislation that doesn’t impact the budget without a quorum.

I don’t think so (of course, that’s just a WAG on my part since I’m not a lawyer nor do I play one on the SD), but the broader issues is what recourse does Wisconsin have in this situation? This seems to have short circuited the process, and I could see this as a tactic used more heavily by a political party who is in the minority to circumvent the system in the future on any legislature the minority party doesn’t agree with but knows will get passed because they don’t have the votes to block it in the traditional and explicit way.

Out of curiosity, does the Senate and Congress have similar rules that a certain number of people must be present or a vote can’t be taken? What other states have a set up similar to Wisconsin?


Which judge would see their case?

It’s Wiki so grain of salt and all that but seems to answer some of this (bolding mine):

Two distinct, connected meanings of “arrest”. One is “the power to compel presence before a court or the legislature.” In this sense you can be arrested as a material witness, a prospective juror or witness ignoring a summons, etc. The other is the related “the power to detain a person alleged to have committed a crime, to answer the allegation before a competent court.”

Many if not most or all legislative bodies have the power to compel absent members to attend, an arrest in the first sense.

The verb has multiple meanings with a common sense of “compel to halt (and do something in accordance with law)”, as exemplified by the fact that stop signs in Quebec arrest motorists in the generic sense of the verb.

At least in WI this only works for bills that alter the budget. Right now the Republicans can pass any bill they want that is not related to the budget.

Why can’t the Republicans just pass the non-budget parts that relate to the unions without a quorum and then deal with the budget parts separately?

Probably because the union parts that are non-budget related are rather unpopular, and the GOP would rather not pass a highly unpopular bill by themselves without the cover of “we fixed the budget”.

According to this website (the veracity of which is unknown to me):

Unless the legislators have been acting up while in Illinois, I don’t think they can be charged with felonies, treason or breach of peace.

But not into Canada.
These Legislators have crossed the Wisconsin state line, and are now in another jurisdiction.

They still have to step foot into Wisconsin. It is all show.

*slight hijack…Could they start expelling members for failing to attend? After expelling one or two Dems, then they would have the required quorum.

That is the plan.