…support the government employee union cause.
The state’s governor, Scott Brown, is holding firm, arguing that he is attempting to stop out-of-control spending and restore fiscal responsibility to the state’s budget, which is projected to be upside down by $3.5 billion. He has announced he will lay off state workers immediately if Senate Democrats don't allow a vote on his Budget Repair Bill.
However, in an effort to prevent a quorum and block a vote on the governor’s proposal, the senate’s Democrat senators, 14 in all, have “escaped” to Illinois.
Wisconsin’s Republican senators have voted to order police to bring their Democratic colleagues back to work. Unfortunately, the state’s constitution does not allow legislators to be arrested simply for not showing up. However, Newsmax reported that “Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says the resolution passed Thursday allows police to take the Democrats into custody under Senate rules and only if they are in Wisconsin.”
The Wisconsin Constitution states that “all officers, executive and judicial…shall before they enter upon the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe an oath or affirmation to support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and faithfully to discharge the duties of their respective offices to the best of their ability.”
Furthermore, the oath of office that Wisconsin’s public servants are required to take states: “…having been elected or appoint to the office of (title) swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of Wisconsin, and will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of said office (senator) to the best of my ability. So help me God.”
Considering that the Democrat state senators subscribed to this oath when they took office, my sense is that they are not discharging “the duties of their respective offices to the best of their ability,” and they should be removed from office.
Although the purpose of this article is not to argue the respective merits of the dispute, it’s interesting to note that a Dick Morris poll among likely Wisconsin voter found the following:
“By 74-18, they back making state employees pay more for their health insurance.
“By 79-16, they support asking state workers contribute more toward their pensions.
“By 54-34, Wisconsin voters support ending the automatic deduction of union dues from state paychecks and support making union dues collect dues from each member.
“By 66-30, they back limiting state workers’ pay increases to the rate of inflation, unless voters approve a higher raise by a public referendum.”
So, what can the Wisconsin state police do if and when they take the Democrat senators into custody and how do they do it? The police cannot cross the state line into Illinois to get them, so they must wait for the legislatures to return to Wisconsin. And, it’s doubtful that they will attempt to arrest them, but will merely return them to the state capitol.
What then? They can’t drag them into the building, and they can’t make them vote.
It all sounds pretty childish to me. Rather than stand and fight for their position, they chose to run. If they did it for political theater to get attention, it worked. But, if their intention is to prevent the state legislature from conducting business until they (the Democrats) get their way, it is tantamount to blackmail and should be resisted.
If the Democrat senators cannot be removed from office for “dereliction of duty,” they should be recalled – post haste.
© 2011 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Read more of Harris Sherline’s commentaries on his blog at www.opinionfest.com