In a brief memorandum opinion yesterday, Judge found that the respondent State Senator had violated his plain duty to attend a Senate session. He also held - and I was not surprised - that the Senate had the authority to enforce its rule of compulsory attendance.
Today the Senate decided to do just that. It has ordered the absconding fourteen to return by fourteen by 4 pm today. If they do not do so, they will be in contempt of the Senate and the Sergeant at Arms will be ordered to bring them in - with the help of law enforcement if necessary.
By way of full disclosure, I consulted with lawyers advising the Senate - again on a pro bono basis. The authority of the Senate to do this is clear. Article VII, sec. 7 gives each house of the legislature the power to compel the attendance of absent members to obtain a quorum. The Senate's own rules require attendance and provide for the Sergeant at arms to be directed to compel bring them in. Art. VIII, sec. 8 of the Constitution says that Article IV, § 8 provides that “each house may determine the rules of its own proceedings, [and] punish for contempt and disorderly behavior.”
There are relatively few precedents for this because relatively few legislators have behaved so irresponsibly for such a lengthy period of time. (In fact, the scofflaws - and that's what they are - have arguably gone beyond any prior example of this anywhere.) But there are examples of legislators being arrested and compelled to attend to obtain a forum. It has been done by the United States Senate, the Alaska Senate and the New Hampshire house.