Well, not exactly.
State Senator Don Balfour’s attorney is in a hearing this morning, with reports indicating that his attorney is arguing that under Georgia’s Constitution and the doctrine of Separation of Powers, that the Executive Branch does not have the authority to prosecute a member of Georgia’s General Assembly.
Think about that for the moment.
The argument is tantamount to claiming that members of the General Assembly are above the law. Balfour would likely argue that point, saying that the General Assembly is responsible for any trial and punishment.
One of the theories on this move is that Balfour, after asking for a speedy trial, is actually looking for a delay tactic. Presuming the judge rejects this claim, Balfour could appeal the judges ruling and the time waiting for a verdict on the appeal would give Balfour time to return to the Senate for the next session.
Except, the Senate has the power to expel Balfour if they wish. That option must not only be on the table, but one that should be used on day one. If not, the rest of the legislature is again painted with the broad brush that they buy into the assertion argued by Balfour that they are above the law.
Balfour has already been expelled from the GOP caucus. The votes for expulsion shouldn’t be much more difficult to muster.
Updated: The AJC’s Chris Joyner has more details here.