As discussed in the Discord server, I've basically tried to pull together all the basic proposals and compromises in one document for ease of organization and to allow finishing touches to be taken care of. I also put in some basic provisions I assumed wouldn't generate too much controversy based on issues and common law of the current US structure.
Give it a look and see if there's anything you feel should be added/struck out.
TBA, establishment of the Continental Federation of Hesperia
Article I: The Congress
Supreme legislative power on all subjects, where such use of legislative power is not in violation of this Constitution, shall be vested in the Hesperia Congress. Congress shall consist of an upper House, the Council of States, and a lower house, the House of Representatives. All legislation shall originate in the House of Representatives, with the Council of States reviewing passed House legislation and either approving it or sending it back to the House with recommendations. The Council must approve legislation as passed by the House before it may become law. All legislation shall be passed by simple majority unless otherwise specified in this Constitution.
Each state of Hesperia shall have one (1) representative on the Council of States, formally held by whoever serves as each state’s internally designated head of government. The head of government is able to send another person to act as their representative on the Council, in such a manner that each state may decide.
The House of Representatives shall consist of as many Representatives as Congress sees fit, but each state shall be guaranteed at least one. The total number of Representatives shall be even, with half apportioned among the states equally and half apportioned among the states based on each state’s population as counted by an official census held every 10 years. For the purpose of counting the total size of the House, the number of seats allocated equally between the states shall take priority.
The initial representation in the House shall be as follows: the population-based half shall use Jefferson’s population as the smallest unit, with Jefferson receiving one (1) Representative; every other state shall receive a number of Representatives equivalent to its population divided by Jefferson’s, rounded up. The equal representation half of the House shall be determined by dividing the total number of population-based Representatives by the number of states, with the resulting number being rounded up and distributed across the states. In the event there are more or less seats in one House than the other, each Congress shall decide in its first meeting how to apportion House seats to achieve complete equivalence.
An acting Council of States will be created upon this Constitution's ratification, consisting of the current heads of government or their representatives, and shall be able to carry out all the functions of Congress until the first general election elects a full Congress (possibly with changes in state government leadership and by proxy, Council of States membership), at which point the Constitution's provisions take full effect.
Article II: The Federal Council
Following a new Congress’ inauguration, both Houses shall sit in a joint session where each member has one vote to choose (by simple majority) a Government, henceforth known as the Federal Council. The Federal Council is composed of the heads of each federal Department and Department-level bodies, as designated by Congress. At least half the states must be represented in terms of where the State Council’s members come from; this shall be defined as a Department head’s most recent state of residence, which must have been held for a length of time equivalent to a full Congressional term.
In the event a Department head is appointed who would fail the state representation test, that Department’s line of succession will be used to find a suitable replacement who fills the Department head’s seat on the Federal Council until the Department head passes the test; the acting Councilor shall continue to sit on the Council even if they lose their original post, and can only be removed through their previous Department’s Head qualifying or through a motion of no confidence by Congress. In the event a whole Council is chosen that does not pass the test, the Department heads shall deliberate among themselves who shall give up their seat on the Council to a suitable official in their line of succession who would pass the test. In the event there is no suitable successor in any Department’s line of succession who could create a Council that passes the test, the Congress must reconvene and replace Department heads or those in the Department’s line of succession until the Federal Council is filled. In the event Congress is not in session, most senior person in a Department may occupy that Department’s seat on the Federal Council.
A new Federal Council (defined as being appointed by a new Congress, even if its membership is completely the same), upon its first meeting, shall appoint one of its members as a chair who serves for a one year term and cannot serve consecutive terms. The Chair’s primary function is to guide discussion and deliver announcements on behalf of the whole Council, but the Chair shall also have the power to cast tiebreaking votes.
The Council shall conduct all its meetings in secret, with Council decisions being publicly announced as one body. The Federal Council shall be required to keep records of all its meetings. Records will be kept secret for at least one Congressional term after the Council’s original term has expired, even if the Federal Council is dismissed before finishing said term. Records of sessions will be kept and verified by clerks, with every session attended by three clerks: one appointed by the Council of States, one appointed by the Federal Council, and one appointed jointly by both; clerks serve for the duration of the Federal Council’s term unless two-thirds of their appointing body votes to remove them. Congress shall receive records in a closed-door session within one month after their secrecy expires, and may authorize additional time to keep records secret from the public at its discretion.
The Congress (gathered as one body with every member having one equal vote) may at any time vote by simple majority to dismiss one, several, or all Department heads.
Article III: Elections
Congress shall by statute designate a federal Election Day, with all federal, state, and local government races to be held on this day each year for any offices whose terms have expired. The date three (3), six (6), and nine (9) months after this Election Day shall henceforth be known as a special election date. Special election dates shall be used to fill vacancies and for initiatives, referenda and recall elections (where applicable) in the event there is more than or exactly 4 months until the next Election Day.
Election Day is to be a national holiday every year regardless of whether a constituency has elections. Special elections shall be classed as holidays for their relevant constituencies for purposes of law.
The federal government shall set guidelines for ballot access based on signatures signed in support of candidate or party or percent of the vote (as a first choice in cases of instant runoff ballots) in the most recent election, but the percentage of the vote or signatures required may not be in excess of the least populated states’ population as a percentage of the national population or in aggregate terms, respectively. States and local governments may set their own ballot access requirements for their own elections in terms of signatures or percentage of the vote in the most recent election, but never in excess of what the federal government requires.
Candidates and parties who acquired ballot access in the most recent local, state or federal election (or who qualified for ballot access in the current election automatically due to percentage of the vote) shall be entitled to government funding in the current election of that same government body. The funding shall be provided by the government relevant to the election. Funding amounts shall be determined by each government’s own laws, but shall be at minimum one (1) unit of currency per resident in the last census. Candidates and parties who qualify for public funding are required to use it exclusively for their campaign expenditures, with any private donations being illegal to spend on campaign activities. Candidates and parties who do not qualify for public funding may use private funds for campaign activities, but may not spend in excess of that election’s public funding amount.
All political logos, slogans, trademarks, or other intellectual property become the intellectual property of the federal government, though a license to use them is automatically granted to active campaigns and parties. The sole exception will be political party names, which will be limited to one party each on a first come, first serve basis, with minor modifications to a name classing as being a separate name.
In order to be eligible to serve as a member of the House of Representatives, a person must be at least 18 years of age. Members of the House must either resign officer posts in businesses or other organizations, or place their post in a blind trust, for the duration of their term.
In order to be eligible to serve as a Department head, one must pass a federal scientific examination as well as have served as: a member of the federal House of Representatives in the past five (5) years. In order to serve as a federal judge, one must pass the same scientific examination as a Department head while having served as a local, state or federal judge in the past five (5) years. One cannot serve on the Federal Council in an acting capacity without passing the federal scientific examination.
The scientific examination test serves to ensure the most senior officers in the federal government have a background in science for the sake of good public policy, and shall be put together and reviewed by an organization as follows: the first Council of States shall put forth an equal number of scientists from each state’s scientific organizations, and these scientists shall form the first members of a federal National Academy of Sciences (henceforth, “the Academy”). The Academy from that day forward shall enjoy constitutional protection and be free to elect more members to fill vacancies as they arise; the Academy’s total membership may be expanded after every federal census in proportion to population growth. Congress shall make no laws attempting to limit the Academy’s autonomy or its membership.
The federal examination will be put together by three (3) people from each subdiscipline of the Academy’s membership (provided they do not withdraw their name from consideration), randomly selected by computer (or reasonable equivalent in absence of a computer). The rules of finalizing test questions will be determined internally by the Academy. Once the test is finalized, it shall remain final for a full Congressional term.
Anyone will be able to take the examination at a cost determined by the Academy, but those already serving in state or federal public office shall be able to take it for free. Those taking the test will be sealed in a room where no external information or stimuli can reach them, with any electronics temporarily confiscated for the duration of the test. Test takers will only be able to interact with a computer built for the test, which will automatically score questions; in the event a computer is unable to grade a question, it will be reviewed and scored by three (3) qualified people from the relevant subdiscipline selected randomly and different from those who put the test together. Test takers must not know who graded them, nor must those grading the test know who they graded. In order to account for excess or limited numbers of candidates, the Academy will internally decide what the pass or fail score for any test is during a Congressional cycle, and this will have the force of law upon public announcement.
Article IV: Suffrage
All citizens 18 years of age or older shall be given the right to vote in elections for constituencies their primary residence is in, regardless of race, color, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, gender, religion, creed or political and personal beliefs. Registration to vote shall be automatic when acquiring identification, registering for military service, or registering for federal services.
Those serving a sentence of a year or more for any crime shall have a temporary restriction of being unable to vote on initiatives or referenda relevant to the crime(s) they have been convicted of. In order to enforce this provision, convicts shall have their voter registration altered to indicate their convicted status (while not specifying the crime for the sake of the convict’s privacy); convicts must acquire certification from a warden’s office (if imprisoned), probation/parole officer, local police chief, or a local judge that their participation in the election does not conflict with their sentence. This requirement will be waived for elections that do not involve initiatives or referenda related to crimes. Upon a person’s completion of a sentence, registration rolls are required to be altered to remove reference to the criminal record.
Federally-approved identification shall be required to vote in all federal, state and local elections. States may issue their own IDs that meet federal standards as set by Congress, but may not require them in exclusion of federal IDs.
All citizens shall be required to vote in federal, state and local government elections, with penalties for non-participation decided by Congress (with a minimum penalty of a fine of one (1) unit of federal currency). Congress shall task a federal government body with checking registration rolls against actual participants from Election Day to determine non-participants for assessment of penalties.
Article V: States’ Rights
The federal Constitution and statutes (in that order) are to be held as supreme in all matters of law. State governments and lower bodies may pass their own laws, but these laws may not contradict the federal Constitution or federal statutes.
State governments may create their own state constitutions and structure their internal government however they please, but they must not conflict with the federal constitution’s provisions of federal primacy and citizens’ rights.
State governments are free to strengthen federal requirements and regulations, but may not contradict them. Restrictions/provisions regarding the federal government apply to the federal government alone.
States shall have the right to maintain their own military forces within limits set by the federal government. States may conduct independent military operations with these forces provided they have the consent of three-fifths of both chambers of Congress and the approval of the Federal Council.
State governments may set official languages and language policy within their borders, or otherwise provide for government documentation in any language.
Article VI: Rights and Liberties
1. No government under this Constitution shall regulate free speech and expression where there is not an immediate danger to reputation or of provoking violence, as determined by a court. These free speech protections shall be understood as binding government bodies, not private bodies, though private bodies and individuals shall still be beholden to federal law.
2. No government under this Constitution shall make any law favoring one religious belief (or lack of belief) over another.
3. No government under this Constitution shall prohibit free assembly of citizens in public spaces; police shall not disband an assembly of citizens provided it does not risk imminent harm to the well-being of citizens.
4. No government under this Constitution shall restrict the free press. The federal government may allocate press-related resources (such as radio frequencies) where scarcity is a consideration, but shall not regulate content.
5. Any citizen or otherwise lawful residents shall be safe in their persons and property against unreasonable searches and seizures. Unreasonable searches and seizures are those which are not justified by either a warrant from a judge (issued upon request from a law enforcement body with suitable evidence and specifically describing what is to be searched and seized and a reasonable limited duration for the warrant) or where a law enforcement officer has probable cause of wrongdoing.
6. Any lawful resident shall have the right to be told of any crime they are accused of by law enforcement, the right to avoid self-incrimination, and the right to a legal defense in criminal cases, which will be paid for by the government if they are unable to afford one. Law enforcement officials must inform a suspect of these rights at the time of arrest. In the event a lawful resident or citizen is accused of breaking the laws of several jurisdictions, the government of the jurisdiction the trial is held in will be responsible for providing the defense if the jurisdictions are of equal status; if the jurisdictions are of unequal status, the highest jurisdiction’s government assumes responsibility for providing the defense.
7. Lawful residents shall not be detained by law enforcement for more than 48 hours without an arrest warrant from a judge. Lawful residents who are detained shall not be subject to excessive bail (as determined by statute) and are guaranteed all their rights despite their restricted movement. Lawful residents have the right to a public trial by a jury of impartial jurors selected from the local body of citizens; jurors must be mutually agreed upon by the prosecution and the defense teams. Lawful residents accused of a crime have the right to see the evidence against them, as well as testify on their own behalf or refuse to testify for fear of self-incrimination. If the accused chooses to testify, they have the right to have their face obscured from the jurors and their voice distorted.
8. The federal government shall provide for the health of its citizens. The federal government shall pay healthcare providers on the behalf of citizens, but citizens shall have the choice of having additional private coverage as well as not have the choice of provider infringed upon. As part of its mission to provide for citizens’ health, the federal government shall make provisions for all citizens to be able to eat, in a manner prescribed by federal statute.
9. The federal and state governments shall make no laws regarding firearm ownership, with the sole right to legislate on such issues left to county and incorporated municipality governments.
10. The federal government shall pay for state identification necessary to qualify for elections and federal services, with a limit of two replacement IDs per year.
11. The federal government shall not make any law mandating imprisonment for non-participation in elections. The federal government, to maximize participation and reduce the chance of accidental non-participation, shall allow same day registration and mandate absentee ballots be sent out at least one month in advance of elections, though constituencies may mandate earlier dates for such ballots provided they do not interfere with parties and ballot decisions’ ballot access deadlines.
12. Employers are required to give non-emergency employees time off to vote on Election Day, and shall likewise be required to do so for relevant special elections. Employees are entitled to holiday pay for any hours worked on Election Day.
13. The federal government shall create regulations and (where and when necessary) provide subsidies to ensure the environment is sustainably utilized in commerce, with a goal of preserving the health of current and future citizens. Federal environmental regulations may be added onto by state and local governments, but may not be contradicted.
14. The federal government shall provide for the healthy economies of state and local governments by setting regulations on their tax, fiscal and debt policies, as well as assuming their debts where deemed appropriate.
Article VII: Directives for the First Congress
The first Congress, upon its inauguration, shall meet to discuss at minimum following topics and form the basis for a lasting union of states:
1. Formal selection of the next federal Election Day.
2. Resolution of any disparity of seats between the two chambers.
3. Creation of Government Departments by statute with their roles. Openings for Department posts shall be announced and initial candidates will have one month to file. Members of Congress shall carry out Department functions in the interim, serving as acting Federal Council members until the formal appointment date.
4. Federal monetary policy, with official positions on central banking and currency adopted.
5. Initial regulations on state armed forces and the creation of a federal military.
6. Government bodies besides the Federal Council-level Departments, where deemed necessary.
7. Creation of federal security forces for the protection of federal officials and enforcement of federal laws.
8. Federal regulations not provided for by this Constitution.
9. Federal tax and budget policies, so as to provide for the function of government bodies.
Other proposals not yet discussed:
Judiciary – independent with full judicial review or subordinate to Acts of Congress?
State-level politicians: eligible to serve as Heads of Departments and thus the Federal Council?
Top legislative priorities for a first Congress?