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The Only Constitutional Crisis In Wisconsin Is the One the Governor's Consigliere Is Creating

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From The Nation

Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, [1] a Republican who serves as Governor Scott Walker's legislative consigliere, is trying to put the best face on his attempt to rewrite not just the rules of the Senate but the Wisconsin Constitution.

As everyone from Kenosha to Cairo knows, fourteen Democratic members of the Wisconsin Senate [2] have refused to return to the Capitol and provide Republican leaders of the chamber with the quorum required to approve Walker's budget repair bill. The Democrats fled to Illinois in order to delay action and force negotiations on the measure, which would strip most public workers of basic bargaining rights. The bill would also restructure state government so Walker can begin dismantling BadgerCare and SeniorCare and start selling public properties to private corporations.

Walker is furious with the Democrats, [3] since they are messing with the plan he outlined in a taped phone conversation to bust the unions and make himself the next Ronald Reagan. So Fitzgerald is under pressure to get the job done.

Late last week, Fitzgerald got his fellow Republican senators to vote [4] to hold the fourteen Democrats in "contempt of the Senate" and to order police agencies to "forcibly detain" -- translation: arrest -- them.

Pretty serious business, this arresting of colleagues. But Fitzgerald says: "They have pushed us to the edge of a constitutional crisis."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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