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Rise of the American Empire

Discussion in 'Imperium OffTopicum' started by Tani Coyote, Nov 6, 2016.

  1. Gurra09

    Gurra09 First Consul

    Jan 1, 2008
    OH. Well that makes a lot more sense than how I read the proposal. That works but for now I think 7 are actually a good number of Councillors? But it's a good provision if we end up with an even number of Councillors now or in the future.
  2. JohannaK

    JohannaK Heroically Clueless

    Oct 13, 2011
    Heart of Etheria
    lurker's comment: No it isn't, it's intrusion from the legislative on the executive. The chair of the council being able to cast a tiebreak is a better option. Especially if the Federal Council is supposed to act jointly and its votes be secret, encroachment upon these prerogative by the legislative threatens the balance of powers.
    Thorvald of Lym likes this.
  3. J.K. Stockholme

    J.K. Stockholme Right Opposition

    Nov 15, 2011
    Commentary on the nomination process (re: Bermuda's response to my questions):

    Firstly, I think locking Councillor positions to particular offices (e.g. Dept. of State etc.) is too constrictive. The Councillors should be held to offices, sure, but which offices should be more flexible - maybe the government decides energy/environment/transportation should be separated, maybe the Council decides a Councillor is unnecessary for environment and should instead be on cultural affairs (or whatever). I would prefer the system be flexible enough to allow Councillors to change ministerial positions without a vote in the legislature, and not lock Councillor positions to particular ministerial positions.

    Secondly, I think a top-two nominating process is probably a bad idea (it's the French system, and can easily lend itself to unpopular candidates who just happen to get the largest two pluralities). Do you know how the Swiss system operates? Perhaps we should just make the process equivalent to the process for a single presidency - whoever is the party leader that commands the most seats in the legislature may appoint whomever they like (including themselves) to the Council unilaterally (or if we want to a check, with a simple majority in the House). If they are a minority, they will form a coalition and appoint their coalition partners' leaders too. If the parties are cordial enough, perhaps a grand coalition might be sustained by the parties (a norm, but not a requirement).

    Thirdly, in opposition to Jefferson, I think keeping the potential candidates for the Council to members of the legislature is a good idea. This is because I also think we should region-block the nominations (e.g. one must be Northeastern, so from Jefferson/NYC/Maritimes, one must be southeastern, Bermuda/Florida/Washington, etc.) - there should be geographic diversity in the Federal Council. This would only really work in practice if you required Councillors be elected officials because otherwise you could random residents of a geographic region and call it diversity.

    I agree with Johanna that there should be no legislature involvement in the executive. We should just have an uneven number of Councillors and (if one dies mid-vote or something) have the chair break ties.

    Re: IRV / STV mixture - can you (Sonic) provide an example of how that would play out in a given state for reference? I am a little confused how to imagine this playing out.
  4. Tani Coyote

    Tani Coyote Son of Huehuecoyotl

    May 28, 2007
    Considering the power of the legislature to dismiss the executive entirely (unless I'm reading wrong), making sure Congress has an opinion on divisive matters probably is good sense.

    Jefferson raises that perhaps the Council could be expanded to state politicians as a compromise? It creates a larger candidate pool without involving people with no public experience. The Governor of a state in the Northeast can surely be as qualified to run a Department as any member of Congress, while they also have actual executive experience that could make them more effective than a legislator.

    Running with the idea of Georgia having 4 seats based on equal proportion and 5 based on population.

    The 4 equal proportion seats are elected via a single transferable vote system statewide, thus yielding (for example) 2 Conservative, 1 Socialist, and 1 Libertarian seat.

    4 other seats are elected based on instant runoff in single member districts. This yields 2 Libertarian, 1 Conservative, and 1 third party seat (which was popular locally, but not statewide).

    Georgia has an odd number of seats, and the final seat would be either created as a fifth single member district or added to the statewide STV race as a fifth seat.

    The ballot would of course have separate seats listed for ease of the voters.

    The ultimate goal is to maintain proportional representation, while also giving local communities a voice and finally giving state governments a little sovereignty in determining how their odd seat would be allocated (if they have one).
  5. J.K. Stockholme

    J.K. Stockholme Right Opposition

    Nov 15, 2011
    Quick straw poll! What are states feeling (in principle) about a directorial system versus a single-person executive system?

    NYC is willing to work under either.
  6. Kinich-Ahau

    Kinich-Ahau #JustGoomyThings

    Jul 3, 2010
    The Church
    The Cherokee prefer the directorial position.
  7. Gurra09

    Gurra09 First Consul

    Jan 1, 2008
    For the straw poll: I don't think there is any surprise that Bermuda prefers the directorial system.

    Yeah, I actually agree with you on this. I might have put it in a bad way earlier because locking positions to particular offices was not in my first draft and is probably not the best idea.

    As I have understood it, the Swiss system elects Federal Councillors through an exhaustive vote for each position, so the nominee with the least votes is eliminated until one nominee remains and is appointed to the Council seat. I think each Councillor should be elected individually one way or another since they are supposed to be of equal rank rather than one of them appointing the rest as their Cabinet.

    Yes, good ideas here. I have been thinking of how to assure Councillors are from different states and this sounds like a good way to do it.

    Agreed. After seeing that comment on legislature involvement I must admit I spoke a little too soon on the matter, and since I already proposed a 7-department system before it shouldn't be a problem anyway except for very special circumstances. The Chair having a tie-breaking role in those rare cases sounds sensible.
  8. Tani Coyote

    Tani Coyote Son of Huehuecoyotl

    May 28, 2007
    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:

    Specific rights/liberties

    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?
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
    J.K. Stockholme and Kinich-Ahau like this.
  9. Tani Coyote

    Tani Coyote Son of Huehuecoyotl

    May 28, 2007
    After discussing with other players, some amendments:

    Article I:

    Members of the House shall serve for four year terms, with each state calling a special election at the next special election date in the event of a vacancy in a seat from its state, unless there is less than four months until the general election, or less than six weeks before the next special election date.

    Article III: Elections

    States must elect all members of the House in either proportional multi-member districts or proportional single member districts. At least half of a state’s seats must be elected in a statewide multi-member district, with “half” meaning one seat below a majority in the event of an odd number of seats; any seats not chosen statewide must have roughly equal population and their boundaries must be drawn as close to established county boundaries as possible. States may choose their counting methods provided they do not run contrary to federal guidelines; federal guidelines are to ensure that seats are allocated roughly in proportion to percent of the vote received in a constituency. States must use the latest federal census when redistricting seats.

    Change to Department head requirements: one must have served as a member of Congress OR as a member of a state legislature/executive branch in the past five years, in addition to passing the scientific examination.

    New Article: The Judiciary

    Supreme judicial power shall be vested in a federal Supreme Court, whose number of members – henceforth called Justices - shall be set by Congressional statute, but never be less than five. The Federal Council shall nominate appointees to the Supreme Court, who will then be confirmed by the Council of States before taking office. These justices shall serve until an age set by Congressional statute (but never lower than 70) unless dismissed by two-thirds of Congress meeting as one body with each member having one equal vote. Justices must have at least 10 years’ experience in judicial or legal experience.

    The Supreme Court shall have the power to review decisions by lower courts, laws passed by any legislature or guidelines of any state constitution, or actions by any executive body in order to ascertain they are compliant with the Constitution. The Supreme Court shall by majority opinion rule whether the subject of review is compliant or in violation of the Constitution; in the event of an even split, the previous decision or act shall stand. The Supreme Court may revisit its older decisions and overturn them.

    The Supreme Court shall have discretion in setting its rules for what cases it shall hear, but must hear cases recommended to it by the Federal Council or one chamber of Congress; the required number of cases may be set by statute provided there is an equal number for the Council and both chambers of Congress.

    Inferior federal courts may be created by statute and shall have the same powers of the federal Supreme Court, though they may choose to limit the effects of their decisions to a particular case or jurisdiction. In the event two or more federal courts of equal standing find conflicting decisions on a similar subject and both have opted for nationwide application of their ruling, the federal Supreme Court shall be asked to issue a final ruling.

    Further proposals:

    Any other proposals? Perhaps term limits? Do they apply to just the House members? Are they consecutive, for life? Would the Council of States possibly have term limits, with States needing to designate an alternate person to take the seat if the head of government serves longer than the limit?
    J.K. Stockholme likes this.

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