Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tonight There’s Going To Be A Jailbreak

You know, if Scott Walker could, he’d declare some kind of legislative martial law and just impose everything in his union busting “budget repair” bill by gubernatorial fiat.  Elections have consequences, after all, so he gets to do anything he wants, whether he campaigned on it or not. Right?

At least that’s what he’s been told by the finest nut-right legal minds, like Marquette law prof Rick Esenberg.  Esenberg has admitted on his blog being the brains behind the brilliant effort to have a Republican party official in Oconto County file a “writ of mandamus” to get his Democratic senator to the Senate chamber. The judge in the case summarily dismissed it in world record time (two days), always a proud result for an impact litigation attorney.

Esenberg also admits advising the Senate Republicans on their similarly awesome effort to get their eight-month pregnant colleague and 13 of her fellow Democrats arrested, should they make the mistake of being caught visiting friends and family in Wisconsin.  Esenberg, no doubt, was aware of the prohibition in the state constitution against legislators being arrested during a session, except for “treason, felony and breach of the peace”.  I’m sure Esenberg also reviewed with the senators that a finding of “contempt of the Senate”, by statute, can only be imposed by causing another member to be arrested; disorderly conduct; failing to appear as a witness or produce documents; or bribing – none of which is involved here.  But, the law is a mere inconvenience to these arrogant bastards.  And Esenberg is only too happy to facilitate their lawlessness.

Lester Pines appears to have nailed the relevant law in a memo.  For his part, Esenberg resorts to name-calling – “the scofflaws - and that's what they are” – which is a poor substitute for law, but, hey, professor spank.  I’m guessing Pines has kicked Esenberg’s legal ass before and certainly will again.  Esenberg claims to have worked both of these great legal efforts pro bono, which may be true.  You get what you pay for.

But the apparent possibility of the brave WI 14 senators being arrested reminds me of other extra-judicial action that has been taken in Wisconsin history in the face of illegal and immoral incarceration.  I think we need to prepare for a popular citizen’s jailbreak, in the spirit of Wisconsin hero Sherman Booth.

Sherman Booth had a newspaper back in the mid-19th century called the Milwaukee Free Democrat.  In 1854, Booth became aware of the imprisonment of Joshua Glover, a fugitive slave from Missouri, who was being held under the Fugitive Slave Act, a pitiful law that required free states to hold slaves claimed in slave states for their slave masters.  Booth ran through the streets of Milwaukee like Paul Revere and convened a mob at the county jail.  After asking nicely, the mob stormed the jail and freed Glover.  And, you can bet, standing right there, demanding that the mob be arrested and the slave be returned to Missouri, would have been the 19th century version of Rick Esenberg.  “The scofflaws - and that's what they are!”

I assume the Senate Democrats are traveling, if not sleeping, with their lawyers in the event that the long arm of the lawless somehow reaches across the state line (you can bet Esenberg and the fine Republican team is trying to find a way to do just that).  However, should one of them get caught visiting their grandchildren or hugging their child or going to church or to their obstetrician, they will have to be held in a jail somewhere before they get dragged, feet first, onto the Senate floor. 
In such a case, I suggest we organize a posse in each county between Madison and the Illinois state line.  When we find out where they are, we storm the building, like the brave Sherman Booth and his mob, and free the political prisoner from the clutches of his or her jailers.  Free the Senator! we will shout to the swelling encouragement of the surrounding citizens who have come to see their constitution and their laws restored and enforced, by any means necessary.

In the meantime, I think I found another opportunity to do my own small part through a little identity-bending, a brilliant suggestion by the Stop Scott Walker Watch on Facebook.  If I can find one of those "Hello My Name Is..." name tags, I'll be wearing one around the Courthouse this morning.  Hello, My Name Is...Chris Larson.  Arrest Me! I would hope the law enforcement officers who support the collective bargaining rights the WI 14 are making such huge sacrifices to protect would ignore such an illegal warrant, but, you never know.  As Elvis Costello sang: "I'll do anything to confuse the ememy".


jimspice said...

If they do this to a law maker attempting to enter his office, imagine what they'd do to someone trying to spring the 14.

Anonymous said...

Something is rotten in the State of Wisconsin. I am sick of the Republican lies and half-truths. They think they can bully and buy their agenda. What's next? Lists of protestors to be punished? Facebook spies looking for dissenters?

Anonymous said...

In war, people end up doing things they never thought they would ever do. We've seen some of that with families coming out to protest The Wanker (tm) and his policies.

Unfortunately, the repugs are banking on the laziness, selfishness, and greed of the American People to eventually kill the opposition's will to fight.

That said, the attacks that repugs have made so far have been focused primarily on the poor. That's a good strategy since the poor rarely participate in elections and other policy initiatives at a level that actually has an impact. In other words, the repugs never "pick on someone their own size" to speak. (then again, finding someone the size of Chris Christie ain't easy)

The focus of good people in this country must be on making the wealthy and the rest of the repugs pay a social and economic cost for their actions.

Social shunning is an incredibly effective means to put pressure on individuals; humans evolved in social systems that required cooperation. That's why its so powerful to exert interpersonal pressures on specific individuals.

There should not be a single one of the repugs able to leave their homes in the morning without anticipation of the coldness and comments they will receive as they get their coffee or donuts, etc..

First step: get pictures of the repug legislators out to the public so we all know who they are when they decide to fill up their gas tanks, or drop their brats off at some corporate "daycare" center next to the interstate.

After all, it pays to know your enemy.

Anonymous said...

The legislators who fled the state to prevent the lawful and Democratic functioning of state government are nothing short of treasonous.

They should be dealt with harshly, and immediately.

We rely on our lawmakers to not allow the decent into anarchy of a minority that chooses to ignore the democratic process, and we are running dangerously close to that.

The 'running 14' represent the very worst in all of us.

Anonymous said...

The desperation of the true zealot is never more evident than when a knee jerk allegation of treason is invoked. Overreach much?

Ironically, under English common law, petty treason involved the betrayal of a superior by a subordinate. That's how these thugs view those who will not meekly submit. It is the power dynamic they crave.

The 14 have simply released the stench that are the Koch brothers to waft over America. Think paper mill town, rotten egg bad. Oh, and America doesn't much care for your odorous scam.

The more you whine, the worse the smell becomes.

Anonymous said...

Chris Larson is the obvious choice, since he has been through the booking process several times and his mug shots are already on file. Perhaps he will go, uh, "shopping" in Illinois and take care of the problem for us. Mike he was a client wasn't he?