Manhunt: Texas House sergeant-at-arms and cops now searching for fleebaggers at their homes

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

May I suggest using your nightsticks, officers?

There’s nothing too newsy to report here (yet) but the image of Texas lawmen descending on the fleebaggers’ homes to haul them off to the Capitol is irresistible. Except that … even if they find them, can they actually take them away? More on that below.

This sh*tshow began a few days ago, after the House voted 80-12 to empower the sergeant-at-arms to serve civil arrest warrants on the House Democrats who fled to D.C. last month to prevent a quorum. The current whereabouts of the fleebaggers are unknown but “many Democrats are believed to be back in Texas,” according to the Times. That means they’re within the jurisdiction of the sergeant-at-arms and Texas law enforcement, which also means that at any moment we could be treated to the spectacle of some Democrat being snatched by cops and thrown into the back seat of an unmarked car for a ride back to the Capitol.

Before the sergeant-at-arms could pursue them at their homes, however, he had to serve warrants at their offices in the Capitol. Which led to this surreal scene on Wednesday:

He had no luck. Republicans’ luck further worsened when three judges in Harris County temporarily blocked enforcement of the arrest warrants, shielding 45 fleebaggers from imminent return to work. “Nobody can detain or drag us back to the House floor against our will,” said Houston Rep. Gene Wu. “We will not be willing participants in the silencing of our communities.” He and his party celebrated for a few hours — until the Texas Supreme Court lifted the lower courts’ orders, allowing arrests to proceed and calling on Democrats’ lawyers to make their case against the arrests on Monday. Greg Abbott was exultant:

While that drama was playing out, the state Senate was busy passing the voting reform bill that the fleebaggers are attempting to obstruct on the House side after a 15-hour filibuster by Dem Sen. Carol Alvarado. All that stands between Texas Republicans and finally passing the bill now is a quorum in the House.

But that’s still easier said than done. And so:

He’s made his rounds at the Texas Capitol, and now the Texas House Sergeant-at-Arms is expanding his search for absent Democrats Friday and checking their home addresses in an effort to reach a quorum so voting can occur…

Local law enforcement is also assisting with the search. If they find anyone, they can take them into custody and take them to the Texas House chamber. They do not face any jail time or fines, as this is a civil arrest which the Texas Supreme Court has recently upheld as allowed. Under Texas House rules, it may “compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each House may provide.”

Are the fleebaggers hiding out at one or more undisclosed locations in Texas or are we actually going to see the sergeant-at-arms start kicking down doors and frogmarching recalcitrant liberals to a waiting paddy wagon?

Well, hold on. Even if the cops find them at home, there isn’t much they can do:

They can’t enter a private residence to serve a civil arrest warrant? Then what’s the point of checking to see if the Dems are home?

If that’s true then the ‘baggers could theoretically hole up for months, ordering groceries and never leaving their houses, and Republicans would stuck. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, purely as spectacle, I like the idea of them not knowing if they’re being staked out and worrying that half a dozen cops might jump out of the bushes to pounce on them if they happen to set foot on a public sidewalk.

Of course, the point of issuing arrest warrants isn’t really to arrest them. It’s to raise the political cost of holding out by making their refusal to return to work look increasingly ridiculous to the public. If we’ve reached the point where the sergeant-at-arms has to go to their homes to ask them to stop playing hooky, we’ve reached the point of farce. This is all about shaming them, or at least a critical mass of them, into getting back to work knowing that they don’t have the numbers to stop the voting bill from passing. That’s how this will end, I’m sure, with a grudging capitulation.

But it’d be nice if we could have just one arrest on camera before it does. They deserve it.