Stausland, officially the United States of Stausland, is an island located in NationStates and not far from Denmanath. The Stauslandic Federation was founded by the Treaty of Saloire in 530 AD. As an island nation its navy has a strong reputation. It's a major trading centre and has a rich history. It is a democracy and a federal republic. Its constitution dates back to 742 AD, the oldest of any republic in the region. There are 7 states (Santoire, Werva, New Oxlon, Freessonn, Clare, Phora and Vynnton) It has suffered 4 civil wars (737-740, 952-955, 1020-1025 and 1258-1260) as well as numerous other wars but since the Treaty of Gattop in 1597 (which still stands) Stausland has gone to war in order to aid Denmanath and to aid its own interest. The last civil war lasted from 1258-1260. Originally there were 10 states but eventually they gained their independence, the last such time this happened was in 737, causing civil war. The people of Stausland are closely related to those of Denmanath. They are known as the Stauslanders. There is no 'national church' however the constitution recognised the Church of Stausland as 'the established church of the Union' until 1970. However, since religious freedom is guarunteed in the constitution under the 12th Amendment it didn't have quite the same power as the Church of Denmanath.
As a federal democracy there are powers guarunteed to the states and to the Federal Government (Fed).
The Constitution seperates the branches of government into Judicial, Executive and Legislative.
The constitution of Stausland contains 18 parts and 180 articles and over 850 sections. It is a reasonably long constitution and has been amended 140 times. It was adopted in 742.
These are its constituent parts:
The Union and its Territory - this part is largely unamended and its main purpose is to state that the Union exists. It also deals with the Federal District in Saloire (Relvern) and with the colonies of the Union. It names the states of the Union thus requiring that any new states (of which there have been none) may only be admitted by constitutional amendment. It is a glorified list of the states and territories of the Union.
Citizenship of the Union and of the several states - States the necessary requirements for citizenship and states that in order to be a citizen of a state one must be a citizen of the Union. In order to be a citizen of a state one must be resident in that state for at least one year or else one must be born there. States may also require that one must be resident for up to five years before granting citizenship, though a citizenship of any state may never be revoked.
Fundemental Rights of Citizens and Non-Citizens - this part includes the bill of rights and has been added to in the form of amendments, though amendments technically don't belong to any part of the constitution as the original text is not changed
The Union - Briefly outlines the powers of the Union and that it shall use the common law. It states that "the Government of the Union shall act in the best interest of the Union and its populace. It holds that all matters of the national defence and forreign affairs shall be solely matters for the federal government not the states.
The States - Briefly outlines the powers of the states and declares that "the states of the Union shall be the foundation of the nation", it declares their right to self-governement and to what extent they shall govern without interference from the federal government.
The Federal Executive Branch - Describes the offices of President, Ministers and their powers, terms, means of election and appointment etc. It has been much amended.
The Federal Legislative Branch - Describes the Union Congress and its two houses, their powers means of election, the office of Speaker etc. It has been much amended.
The Territories of the Union - This part relates to the government of the territories held by the Union and their relationship to it.
The Relationship between the Union and the States - Deals with the very important and sometimes contoversial question of where does state power end and federal power start. It has been much amended.
Commerce - This contains the 'capitalist' clause which requires the government of both the union and the states to "ensure the prosperity of the nation and its populace through commerce". It also details the right to own propert and to accumalate wealth "without undue hinderance" (the 'hinderance to wealth' clause) and other rights such as to "make a last will and testament freely and without fear of confiscation of assets other than to satisfy outstanding debts" thus banning inheritance tax. It contains numerous other so called 'free market' clauses, though it doesn't prevent the federal government from taxing imports from other countries.
Inter-State Relations - This entitles states "to exchange envoys and to encourage inter-state commerce". They are not however permitted to sign pacts or treaties with each other without the consent of the Union Congress. They are also forbidden from imposing "duties on articles imported from one state into another". This clause was there to stop jealous protectionism amongst the states. The 'Union' part grants the federal government the sole right to tax imports; it is forbidden from taxing inter-state imports and if it taxes "articles imported from a foreign power then that tax must be uniform amongst the states".
Judiciary - This part extensively goes through the various rights of the judiciary, it also declares it independant of the political branches of government at both federal and state level. It forbids popular election of judges and requires that they serve "during good behaviour" and that their "emoluments shall not be decreased during their service". It declares that "the Supreme Court of the Union shall be the font of judicial sovereignity within the Union" and describes the elevation of its justices.
Elections within the states - The main purpose of this was to prevent dictatorships within states, federal officials have their elections detailed elsewhere. This part prevents term limits and doesn't specify maximum terms (Since 1312 all Governors of Clare have been elected for life, though they have limited power). Therefore its main function is to require that elections take place and that they are free and fair.
Emergency Provisions - This part details the process for declaring war and war time government. It grants vast powers to the federal government that it doesn't have in peacetime. It does however require that all land taken by the government during war (as per the 'Land Confiscation Clause') must be returned after the war.
Amendment of the Constitution
Standing Laws - These are laws that were part of the common law but were enshrined in the constitution. However the 19th Amendment allows the Union Congress to alter them as it would any other act, or indeed to repeal these laws. All have been updated and most have been repealed. Its main purpose nowadays is to show legal scholars how laws were written in the eighth century.
Amendments - The list of all 140 Amendments passed since 741.
While no part has ever been repealed in its entirity several articles and sections have been dropped, especially in Part XVII - Standing Laws. Articles and sections have also been added to the Constitution.
Amendments to the constitution can be originated in either house of Congress. They can also be originated by the President (in the Senate Chamber by tradition) or if the Senate is petitioned by two State Governors.
The house in which the amendment was originated must approve the amendment with a two-thirds majority of those voting.
The other house of Congress must approve the amendment by two-thirds of those voting.
The President must sign the bill, if he vetoes it then the amendment is not dead unless one state governor 'seconds the veto of the President' within 21 days. If no state governor does second the veto then it is likely that the amendment will pass (see Stage 5). Some state governors may require the governor to seek approval before seconding the veto.
4 states must then ratify the amendment by means specified in their own constitutions. This must be done before the dissolution of the next Union Congress (that is it must be approved before the House of Deputies which will follow the one that passed the amendment is dissolved) this is between 4 and almost 8 years depending on when the amendment was proposed. The reason for that time limit is to allow an amendment to be ratified even if the party in power in the Union Congress is not in power in a majority of the states, thereby allowing the people in those states time to elect that party, or not to elect them, so that the amendment will be ratified. Once four states ratify the amendment then the amendment is considered passed and becomes effective 7 days later.
Technically it is the governor who ratifies the amendment though the constitution allows states to "provide by their own laws the procedure by which the Governor shall be entitled to ratify the proposed amendment".
In Werva the amendment can only be ratified by referendum, the Governor of Werva is obliged to issue the writ for the referedum, the Governor is then obliged to sign the Certificate of Ratification if the amendment is passed.
In Freesson the governor has the power to refuse to issue the writ for the referendum, thereby preventing its ratification, if the writ is issued then the approval of the majority in the referendum is required.
In Clare there is only a referendum if its two houses of parliament don't approve the amendment with two-thirds of those voting, then the Governor of Clare must issue a writ calling the referendum and is bound by the result of the referendum, if the Parliament of Clare does approve the amendment then the Governor is obliged to sign the Certificate of Ratification.
In Santoire the House of Assembly (the lower house of the state parliament) has the sole power to ratify the amendment, the Governor of Santoire must then sign the Certificate of Ratification.
In Phora it is the Paliament of Phora who must ratify the amendment with a simple majority in each house. The Governor of Phora must accept the decision of the Parliament and ratify the amendment.
In New Oxlon the Governor has the power to ratify the amendment by means of his own perogative.
In Vynnton the Chancellor of Vynnton is empowered by the Constitution of Vynnton to "advise, in writing, the Governor of Vynnton with regard to the amendment proposed, upon receiving this advice the Governor shall act accordingly". That means that the Chancellor decides whether to ratify the amendment, parliamentary approval is not required.
The President of the Union is the head of the executive branch. He is elected to a four-year term by the Electoral College.
He is the head of the executive branch of government. He is the Commmander-in-Chief of the defence forces.
He must sign federal bills into law. Until the passage of the 53rd Amendment in 1176 his veto was absolute but the 53rd Amendment stated that if the president vetoed a bill he must submit his objections in writing to the Union Congress. If both houses of Congress over-ride his veto (this requires a 2/3 majority of those voting in both houses) then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must sign it into law. If the veto is not over-ridden then it is defeated.
The president is responsible for the appointment of diplomatic, judicial (non-political and with consent of the Senate and 3 state governors), and has the supreme responsiblity of issuing executive regulations. He may also grant pardons and commute sentences. The president is responsible for foreign policy (Congress may not interfere in foreign policy). Even though he is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces he must receive Congress's approval before declaring war.
He is also the ex officio chairman of the Council of State (the 7 state Governors + the President).
He is sworn in at a ceromony on the 6th of January and declared President of the Union.
As of 2011 President Geoff Sellander is paid a salary of £4,000,000.
He has resided at Presidential Palace in Saloire since 1700. From 1345-1700 he lived at Tear Cliff Castle,which in 1345 was a mile south of Saloire. Tear Cliff Castle was purpose built for the presidency and took 25 years to complete but president Robert Fennell found it cold and uncomfortable and in 1693 he ordered the Presidential Palace to be built, he moved in 1700 after being elected for a third term but he died two years later in the ballroom (the ball was held to celebrate his wife's birthday).
Prior to 1345 he resided at the Galtara, a seventh century fortress and castle in the centre of Saloire.
He appoints his ministers (1798-1897 the Senate had to approve these appointments but the 133th Amendement (1897) repealed the 118th Amendment (1798)). The Cabinet is recognised under the 2nd Amendment. The 90th Amendment (1492) states that there must be at least 7 ministries and no more than 21 ministries (4-14 under the 40th Amendment 965AD).
The only ministry specified in the constitution is the Ministry of the Treasury. It specifies that the Ministry of the the Treasury has jurisdiction over the Tresaury and that the Minister of the Treasury be its head. This means that the Ministry of the Treasury cannot be abolished and its title cannot be changed.
The President can change the titles and jurisdictions of the ministries at will, though in order to increase or decrease the number of Ministries senatorial approval is required.
The 102nd Amendment (1610) states that the Vice-President, Senators, Deputies, State Governors nor any holder of any state office ('albeit legislative or executive') may hold a ministry. Judges, both federal and state, are prevented from holding any political office.
There is a difference however between ministers and the Cabinet. Legally the Cabinet is merely an adivisory body to the president. He can 'invite' any member of the public to be a member of it, though in practice, he only ever invites his senior officials such as ministers. Ministers have no legal right to be members of the Cabinet nor does the VP. Many presidents didn't invite their VPs to Cabinet though every VP since Rose Jertoff (VP 1896-1904 and President 1908-1916) has been a member of Cabinet. The constitution allows congress to limit the number of members of Cabinet ("as law provide") to "not less than twenty-one and not more than twenty-eight in number". The pay of the members of the Cabinet (in that legal capacity) has not increased since 1209: £5 per year.
The Vice-President is, legally speaking, elected by the Electoral College. Each candidate submits to the Electoral College who they nominate to be Vice-President (VP) before it goes into conclave. In reality however the public along with everyone else knows who will be nominated by whom. Once a presidential candidate becomes President Elect then the nominated VP becomes Vice-President Elect. He is sworn in at a ceromony on 6th January and proclaimed Vice-President of the Union.
The incumbent as of 2011, Natalie Dellenport, is paid the same as a minister, £2,500,000.
President of the SenateEdit
The VP is the ex officio President of the Senate. The role of the VP in the Senate varies from VP to VP. Some VPs see presiding over the Senate as one of their main responsiblities where as others usually delegate this role to someone else in the party.
Another key role of the VP is to attend cabinet and advise the Cabinet and President. He is generally invited to the Cabinet.
For over 50 yrs there was no official residence of the VP. In 799 Congress consented to the building of Chesten Castle (so called because the land it occupied was in a part of the City of Saloire) plans were drawn up almost immediately and work got under way in March 800. In 808 the Vice-President Fervous Donne and his family moved in and the castle was fully completed in 812. It was however consistently modified and expanded. It is still the residence of the VP today.
At present there are ministers 11 each in charge of a ministry. These ministries are (in no particular order):
Treasury, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, State Affairs, Education, Defence, Health, Transport, Commerce, Energy and Envirnmental Affairs, and Agricultural and Marine Affairs.
Ministers along with the VP and President sit at Cabinet. They are appointed by the President and serve at his pleasure. As congress may delegate some of its powers to the executive (or more to the point the President) and the President can further delegate these powers as he sees fit. He can move around the titles and powers of ministries at will, (with the exception of the Treasury which the Constitution allocates to the Ministry of the Treasury by name). He may not however alter the number of ministries without permission from the Senate.
Ministers are assisted by Junior Ministers (with each junior being allocated responsibility for an area of the ministry's work) and by a Deputy-Minister. While the Deputy-Minister is nominated by the Minister he is appointed by the President, and the Junior ministers are appointed by the minister.
Ministers and Deputy-Ministers are mentioned in the constitution and are forbidden from holding governerships and seats in Congress. Junior ministers are not mentioned in the constitution but they are frobidden by custom (though not law) from holding Senate seats, they may however be Deputies.
The Union Congress is bicameral. The upper house is the Senate and the lower house is the House of Deputies. They share equal power on most matters of legislation but the Senate has greater control over the executive.
The elections for Congress take place at the same time as the Presidential election.
The Constitution specifies the means by which officials may be impeached.
Only federal officials may be impeached. The constitution also did its best to ensure that Congress would not use its powers of impeachment for purposes of vendetta.
First all charges must be brought by the House of Deputies, only a simple majority is required, though the 47th Amendment allows the House to suspend the official if the House passes a seperate motion to suspend the official, a two-thirds majority is required for this.
Then the official goes forward for trial by the Senate. The Constitution aims to prevent vendetta by with three clauses:
(1) Trials must be presided over by a Supreme Court Justice "who shall be appointed by the Chief Justice, or if it be the case that the Chief Justice is the accused then the court as a whole shall elect a presideng officer by secret ballot". This ensures that the presiding officer is apolitical and also the presiding officer shan't benefit in the event of either a conviction or acquittal.
(2) A two-thirds majority of all the voting Senators is required for conviction.
(3) "The presiding officer shall have power to order an acquittal of the accused, unless the Senate shall pass a motion to overrule the same order with the concurrence of four-fifths of those voting".
These provisions made a conviction difficult, especially on shaky grounds. The right of the presiding officer to order an acquittal is very important as it is an effective prevention against vendetta.
However, the 92nd Amendment provides that if it is a member of the Supreme Court on trial then the presiding officer's use of the 'veto' can be overruled by the Senate by a simple majority if the President of the Senate permits it. A two-thirds vote is still required for conviction. This arose when Rupert Fess was acquitted on the order of Chief Justice Terrance Lentrester, both of whom were appointed by the same President. This was highly controversial as the Senate failed to overrule the acquittal by only one vote. Many felt that he was guilty and if Lentrester had not acquitted him then he would certainly have been convicted. Once the amendment was passed the House impeached Fess on different grounds and this time the Senate did convict.
Session, Adjournment and Dissolution
The Constitution is very specific on these rules as they determine how much influence the executive has on the Congress. If the executive was too powerful in this regard then it could just stop the Congress meeting as has been done in other countries and was done at the time the Framers of the Constitution were holding their convention in 741.
Thus the President is given little more than ceremonial powers. He opens, closes and signs the Order of Dissolution but his powers are limited in that regard.
The constitution provides that there shall be two sessions of Congress every year.
The first must open between the 15th and 25th of January (the date being decided by the President) and if Congress hasn't been called into session by that date it is automatically deemed to be. This session must close in the month of June. From the 1st to the 14th only Congress may by majority vote of each house set a date for closure, providing that date is no later than the 21st. From the 15th to the 21st the President may suggest a date to close Congress, though Congress must apporove this date, or Congress may set the date itself. From the 21st to the 28th the President may close Congress, provided that he give 24 hours notice. Congress is automatically closed on the 30th.
The second session begins in September. It must open on the first Monday in September. This session is shorter and closes at Christmas. It must close no sooner than the second Thursday in December and no later than the 20th of December. Congress may set the date at any time during the session though if no date is set by the 13th of December than the President may close Congress with 24 hours notice. Congress is automatically closed on the 20th.
The President may call an special session at any time that may last for up to 60 days. The President may close an emergency session at any time. Once called it must assemble within forty-eight hours.
If the President dies or resigns while Congress is out of session then it must assemble within forty-eight hours. The new President may close Congress at his discretion once three days have passed since it assembled.
He may not adjourn Congress (technically Congress never adjourns, only its individual houses may adjourn), as that is a decision for each house. Neither house may adjourn for more than three consecutive days including weekends, or for more than five in any three weeks excluding weekends, without the consent of the other. The houses may not adjourn together for more than twenty-one days in any thirty days. They may never adjourn together for more than thirty-five days per session, excluding weekends. Note that a house doesn't have to adjourn in order not to sit as the presiding officer may decide to suspend the house procedings for up to twenty-four hours.
The Senate is the representitive body of the states. As there are only 126 Senators compared to 1,000 Delegates Senators have cosiderably more capacity to be seen and noticed. They are paid one and a half times as much as Deputies. The Chief Senator (majority leader), the Inquisitor (minority leader) and the President Pro Tempore are all paid more (50%, 25% and 20% respectively). The Deputy Chief Senator performs the duties of the whip for the majority party and has a 20% increment. The Senate alone has the power to ratify treaties, judicial appointments and to approve the alteration of the number of ministries and their jurisdictions.
The Senate has the sole power to try an impeachment trial. A two-thirds majority is required to remove the official from office and a Supreme Court Justice presides over the trial and has the right to dismiss the case if he feels there is a lack of evidence. If a conviction is secured then a follow up vote can bar the official from ever holding that office again. Unless it is the President who is convicted the President may, with the leave of the Senate, issue an Order of Disbarment from Federal Office meaning the official may never hold any federal office again.
By tradition if the president wishes to introduce a bill to Congress he does so in the Senate and indeed most of the legislation that the President's party wishes to introduce is introduced in the Senate if they have a majority in the Senate. Usually however the President only ever introduces very high profile legislation personally otherwise he instructs the party members in the Senate to do so.
Senators are required to be at least 25 years of age and citizens of Denmanath for a minimum of 7 years.
As of 2011 each Senator is paid £1,500,000 per year.
The Senate has 126 members elected to 8-year terms. There are 18 senators for every state and half are elcected every four years at the same time as the President and the House of Deputies. Therefore only half the house can be cleared at every election making it more likely that the two houses of Congress will be of different parties.
They are elected on a party ticket and whichever ticket gets the most votes wins all nine seats. This excludes smaller parties from the Senate.
Originally Senators were elected to 24-year terms but over the years successive amendments have reduced this to eight years. A proposed amendment to reduce this to four years was vetoed by President Roberta Fletcher in 2005 and seconded by current president, then Governor of Werva, Geoff Sellander.
The Chief Senator is the leader of the majority party. He is elected at the start of each term. He is one of the leading members of his party at national level. Many Chief Senator have been elected to the presidency, the most recent example being Roberta Fletcher (Chief Senator 1992-1996, Minority Leader President 2000-2008).
Secretaries to the SenateEdit
The majority party has spokespeople who sit on the front benches in the Senate, informally known as Secretaries. They are appointed by the Chief Senator and there is one for every ministry (eg the Treasury Secretary to the Senate speaks on fiscal affairs in the Senate). They are members of the Senate and receive a 20% increment on their salary. They are senior members of the majority Senatorial Mission (the collective name for senators in the one party eg the Tory Senatorial Mission or the Labour Senatorial Mission). Collectively the Chief Senator, Deputy Chief Senator and the secretaries form the council of the mission.
The Inquisitor for the SenateEdit
Known as the Inquisitor, he is the leader of the minority party in the Senate. He is paid a 25% increment. He is the leader of the minority Senatorial Mission. He makes speeches in opposition to the Chief Senator.
Vice-Inquisitor for the SenateEdit
Informally known as VIs they are actually shadow Secretaries to the Senate and perform the same function just as the minority party, if they are the same party as the President then they bring proposed legislation to the Senate. They receive a 10% increment.
President pro TemporeEdit
The President pro Tempore is a largely ceremonial role often given to a long serving senator in the majority party. If the President of the Senate is not there to preside at meetings of the Senate then the President Pro Tempore presides. If he is not present either then another memebr of the majority party takes the chair.
President of the SenateEdit
The Vice-President of the Union is the ex officio President of the Senate. Some VPs personally preside over the Senate when possible but usually he does not as he has other engagements to attend to. He has a vote by convention states that he use it only where there is a tie. If he is not present to preside over the Senate then the President Pro Tempore presides or another member of the majority party.
The Clerk of the Senate serves the same function as the Clerk of the House of Deputies. His role is both ceremonial and functional. He supervises the Assistant Clerks who are responsible for updating the Journal (as prescribed in the constitution) and the two stenographers. He is nominated by the President of the Senate and approved by the Senate. As it is not a political office the Clerk usually serves until his retirement.
The Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for the security of the Senate in which he assisted by the Capitol Police. He has a strong ceremonial duty too and wears a uniform which dates back to the 16th century.
The Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod is a ceremonial officer who bears a scarlet rod, he has a similar duty to the Gentleman Usher of the Green Rod. He has a role in all of the Senate's ceremonies.
The Doorkeeper of the Senate keeps the door of the Senate and announces people who come to address the Senate such as the president.
The Senate Administrator and his office deals with the administration of the house. He is appointed by the Achitect of the Capitol.
House of DeputiesEdit
The House of Deputies (informally: the House) is the lower house. They are elected from amongst the states and are assigned to each state in accordance with that state's population.
The House of Deputies has the sole power to impeach a federal official.
The budget is introduced by the Minister of the Treasury in the House and the President commends the budget to the Senate.
The House is usually seen as the weaker house as there are so many members and because the constitution gives many important powers to the Senate exclusively. The facty that there are 1,000 members allows each member very little speaking time and can often lead to delays if many members wish to speak. Therefore the media usuallly focuses in on the 'front benches' that is, the senior members of the two parties who have posittions as spokessmen for the party on various issues and are the political 'heavyweights'. The fact that the House is so often dominated by roughly 30-40 members (3%-4%) and is often restrained by the whip system when called to a vote is hotly debated and controversial.
As of 2011 Deputies are paid £1,000,000. The Speaker is paid £2,000,000. The Premier is paid £1,750,000. The Deuxieme and Troisieme are paid £1,500,000 each and the Quatrieme is paid £1,250,000.
The 111th Amendment (1718) instituted proportional representation in an effort to stregnthen the parties. States were free to choose the exact method, but constituencies had to elect at least four members. All but New Oxlon and Clare went for party list systems. Santoire and Vynnton created single statewide constituencies, however this caused problems and the 113th Amendment (1735). Prior to 111th Amendment each state could "by its own laws provide the means by which the assigned number of Deputies shall be elected by the population of that state to represent the population of the same" i.e. they could decide themselves how to elect their Deputiesoverruled a Supreme Court ruling that thresholds were illegal, permitting 5%.
The 120th Amendment (1821) ruled that each state must use a party list system using a state wide Droop Quota and largest remainder system. The amendment meant that each deputy represented the state as a whole and not their own individual district. The maximum permitted threshold was increased to 7%.
However the 135th Amendment in 1969 repealed the 120th and 111th (the 120th came into affect with the federal election in 1824 and ended with the election in 1972, that is 37 elections) and now states can choose between PR and single seat districts elected by plurality voting (the latter system was used in every state prior to the 111th Amendment). This amendment was designed to consolidate the 2-party system at federal level.
Today, Nex Oxlon, Clare and Santoire have implemented first past the post. IRV is used in Vynnton. Freesson uses STV with 4-7 seat constituencies. Phora is the only state to have kept the 120th Amendment system. Werva initially divided its 200 seats into 4-seat STV constituencies, however the distortion caused led it to introduce party lists in 10-seat constituencies for the 1984 election. This was criticised for not providing personal accountability (a criticism of the 1821 system) and so a compromise was reached for the 2004 election and onwards whereby there are 40 5-seaters.
They are elceted every 4 years and serve 4-year terms. The house therefore is fully renewed after each election, except for the Speaker who is returned automatically by the 76th Amendment 1353.
The apportionment of seats within the House is fair. It is described in the constitution.
The total number of available seats in the House is calculated as follows; There must be one deputy for every 1,000,000 population but no more than one for every 50,000. That obviously gives significant room for manoeuvre and as Stausland's 2010 population stood at approx 750,000,000 that leaves a constitutional minimum of 750 deputies and a maximum of 37,500, which would obviously be ridiculously large.
The Constitution requires a census to take place (the 137th Amendment 1988 states that one must be carried out every 5 years, prior to that it was every ten years) the last census was in 2010. The original constitution referred to a census but was not specific as to how often ('from time to time') and so they were unscheduled and sporadic until a 1399 Amendment demanded one be held at least every 20 years. The 121st Amendment 1822 scheduled a census for every 10 years.
The constitution also stipulates that "for every number of people equivalent to one hundreth of the population of the Union resident within one state there shall be one deputy for every one hundred deputies to represent the people of that state at the Union Congress in the House of Deputies". In other words for every 1% of the total population of Stausland a state has that state shall have 1% of the deputies in the House (1% of the people = 1% of the House). However, in order to stop the threat of Santoire, which at the time was rapidly expanding in terms of population a proposed amendment provided that "every state shall have at least five representitives in the House of Deputies ... The representation of the most populous state shall not be greater than the sum of that of all the other states and the representation of the same shall not exceed that of the sum of that of the second and third most populous states". Santoire did not approve of the amendment. The 75th Amendment 1347 was enacted instead. It limited each state to 25% of the House.
At the start of every sitting of every Congress the Speaker of the House "shall furnish a committee of his own choosing to decide upon the matter of the appotionment of the next House of Deputies and upon completing its report in a timely manner that same committee shall present its findings to the House of Deputies and if the same finds the same report satisfactory then the Speaker of the House shall seek the advice of the Senate as to whether the same report is equitable to the several states. It shall be the final decision of the Speaker of the House as to the final form of the report which shall then be submitted to the Supreme Court of the Union. If the Supreme Court of the Union finds the submission of the House of Deputies to be satisfactory and within the provisions of this Constitution regarding the apportionment of the same house then the Supreme Court of the Union shall promulgate the share each state shall have of the next House of Deputies of the Union Congress."
In other words the House shall appoint a committee to do the maths and the House shall send the report to the Supreme Court so as to ensure that the House wasn't cheating and over-representing some states and ignoring others. The Supreme Court would then make the formal declaration.
Like the Senate there is one standing committee for every ministry, one 'Committee of Executive Report' for overseeing the president and one for constitutional and judicial affairs. Some bills may be refered to a special committee established for the purpose of that bill, though such committees are rare. Joint committees also exist with the Senate.
Standing committees may investigate certain matters (usually in the sense of oversight andinvestigating wrong doing eg calling the chairman of a state board to account for expenditure), order witnesses to attend (in the name of the Speaker of the House as per the Congressional Investigations Act 1854) and consider proposed bills. There are often subcommittees appointed by the chairman of the committee at large in order to supervise Reports of Enquiry (eg a report into the feasibility of a new motorway)
Speaker of the HouseEdit
The office of Speaker is one of the most interesting due to fluctuations in the his influence and power over the centuries. Originally the Speaker was a non-partisan Chairman whose function was to preside over the House impartially. Later the Speaker's influence increased and the role became politicised.
The Constitution recognises the Speaker as an office. Contrary to popular belief his full title is not Speaker of the House of Deputies but simply Speaker of the House. This is because the section in the Constitution creating the office is worded as follows "Upon being assembled the House of Deputies shall, from amongst its own number, choose a Speaker of the House (refered as the Speaker of the House hereafter)." So while it mentions 'Speaker of the House' it never mentions 'Speaker of the House of Deputies'.
In 1188 Gertrude Lovertine-Maille was electected Speaker. She was the first woman to hold the post and she revolutionised the role. She refused to resign from the South Anglia Alliance (an ancient club cum political party) and often gave speeches in favour of the President (her 1st cousin Archibald Maille). She was also famous for using her powers to push through only legislation that she or the party approved of. She was one of the most successful women of the 12th century in Stausland.
It was not long after the election of Thomas Slaine in 1344 that the role of the Speaker diminished. He accepted bribes for legislation and speaking time given to members. He manipulated the President, Gregory Dervant, who was weak and indecisive and Slaine became the most powerful man in Stausland. He fell from power, however, when the Slaine Poison plot was discovered in 1347 (he planned to poison his main political opponent the Vice-President Laurence Kelfen in the hope that he would be appointed Vice-President in his place when the next election came), he then lost a vote of no confidence in the House and he was tried for treason and executed. Dervant lost the election but the next president saw the dangers of a powerful Speaker and therefore limited the role. The House rules were changed to make the Speaker less partisan and this was cemented in 1353 with the 76th Amendment which states that "the Speaker of the House shall dedicate himself, to the best of his ability, solely to the service of the House of Deputies and thus upon the dissolution of the Union Congress the Speaker of the House of Deputies shall be deemed to be elected to the same representing the population of the state which had elected him to the previous House of Deputies".
From that point until the 18th century the Speaker was a non-partisan chairman of the House. In the 18th century the Speaker regained his backroom function but did not ouvertly take stances on matters that did not concern House rules. That is, the Speaker was an advisor to his party leadership (though officially he did not have a party) and worked behind the scenes whilst publicly he served only the House and did not make public statements on political issues.
From the 19th century to the present day the Speaker has played a public political role especially when the President isn't of the same party. When the President is of the same party then he is one of his public supporters and frequently gives speeches from the chair in his favour. The Speaker is (generally) one of the most high profile politicians at federal level.
He rarely presides over the house in person and usually either the Deputy Speaker or another majority party member presides in his place. He has a vote though he usually only votes when there is a tie. Like the President of the Senate if he votes when there isn't a tie and as a result there is a tie then the motion is defeated or the speaker can postpone the vote for 7 days.
He is elected at the start of the House term and serves for the term. He nominates the Deputy-Speaker and the House confirms this. If 20% of the members petition the Clerk of the House then a motion of confidence must be held, if the Speaker doesn't get a majority then he ceases to be the Speaker. Under house rules only one such vote called by petition can be held every 28 days. The Speaker however can call a motion of confidence in himself at any time.
This is a very influential position, though when the Speaker was less political the role was much more powerful. The majority leader is known as the Premier of the House of Deputies or Premier. He often leads debate on behalf of the majority party but in the 20th and 21st centuries he was often overshadowed in terms of publicity by the Speaker. Once the Speaker has been elected he [the Speaker] calls the House to discuss the election of the premier. The majority leader is always elected and under House rules 'the Deputy who receives the second largest number of votes, that is, the minority leader, shall be elected the Deuxieme.
The Premier is one of the most senior members of the national party and along with his front bench and the Speaker controls the House.
The Premier is often invited to Cabinet if he is of the same party as the President.
The candidate who receives the second highest number of votes to become the premier becomes the deuxieme or minority leader. He is one of the party's most senior figures, especially if the other party holds the Presidency.
Troisieme and QuatriemeEdit
The Premier is within his rights to appoint a Troisieme (majority whip) and the Deuxieme hass the power to appoint a Quatrieme (minority whip). The purpose of the titles is to allow for a pay increase for what is essentially a party position.
The Clerk of the House of Deputies is the most obvious such officer. His office is largely ceremonial and to supervise the assistrant clerks. He is appointed by the Speaker but in practice the office is only filled when it becomes vacant (that is the each Speaker does not appoint a new clerk).
The Assistant Clerks, of which there are twelve, are responsible for record keeping and ensuring that the Journal is accurate. There are also two stenographers.
The Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for the security of the House. He is assisted by the Capitol police. He also has a ceremonial role and uniform which he wears inside the chamber. Like the Clerk the Speaker usually does not replace the Seargeant unless the office becomes vacant.
The Gentleman Usher of the Green Rod (informally: Green Rod) is a cermonial officer who bears a green rod. He has a role in all of the several ceremonies of the House including the Opening of Congress (an bi-annual event), its Closing (also bi-annual), the Opening of the New Congress (every 4 years when the new House meets for the first time), the Presidential Inauguration and the Inauguration of the Speaker (he swears the new Speaker in). Unlike Scarlet Rod in the Senate, Green Rod resigns shortly after swearing in the new Speaker. Each new Speaker appoints a new Green Rod.
The House Administrator and his office are responsible for the administration of the House. He is appointed by the Architect of the Capitol.
The whip system is often more laxed at Federal than State level. At state level free votes are rare and the whip is tightly imposed.
At federal level the whip is less strict especially in the Senate. However there is a difference between the two houses.
The whips send out cards to the party members containing the scheduled votes: The following terms refer to the way the vote is highlighted eg. Defence Bill Second Reading would be a single line whip as it has 1 underline.
A triple-line whip is used for very important motions eg the budget. Members must attend and vote with the party, it is understood that if a deputy crosses the floor for this then they will be either moved down the list or struck off the list at the next election. If moved down the list the chances of them losing their seats is greater as the first on the list is the first elected. In states that no longer use lists then the party may decide to strip the deputy of the whip, therefore the deputy doesn't have a right to run for the party in the next election, so the party may decide to drop the deputy and run someone else. Senators who cross the floor may not be allowed run on the party ticket at the next election unless they provide significant contributions to the party funds, because of the ticket system of Senate elections Senators need to be on a ticket to be elected.
A double-line budget is an order to attend and vote. Voting is not strictly necessary as long as one doesn't cross the floor. Permission not to attend may be given by the whip.
A single-line whip non-binding for attendance or voting. In the House this requires that members don't cross the floor.
A box (the name of the motion is surrounded by a box) indicates that there is unanimous consent agreed with the other party.
A blank (there is no underline) indicates a free vote.
Free votes are common here especially on matters not deemed to be critical. That is not to say the whip is lax, when imposed the members of the party are expected to tow the party line. Defiance of triple line whips is punishable by forfeiting all committee seats. Unanimous consent is usually reserved for 'trivial' bills. However, Senators often secure large contributions to the party funds and so a successful fundraiser is unlikely to be severly punished.
House of DeputiesEdit
Due to the fact that there are 1000 members boxes are common and defiance of the whip is severely punished. Free votes are rare as non-critical issues are usually either agreed unanimously or given single or double lines. Repeat offenders have been expelled especially when there was a large party majority. During the days of PR voting many party leaders ordered that those who defied them be struck off the list at the next election, this was to strike fear into the members to tow the party line.
House of OriginEdit
The house of origin doesn't really matter but obviously members of congress must introduce bills in their own house. Ministers and the President may introduce bills into either house but they rarely do so. The Minister of the Treasury must introduce the budget into the House as all money bills must origignate there according to the Constitution. By tradition the President introduces bills to the Senate only.
Private member bills (bills not sponsered by the govt or opposition party) may be introduced by any member of either house.
In the House the introduction speech is short (around 4 mins). The presiding officer then says "stand ye who shall admit this bill" if more than 50 members stand then the bill is admittd by the house.
In the Senate members have 10 minutes to make a speech in favour of the bill. The presiding officer then says "stand ye who shall admit this bill" if 10 members stand then the bill is admitted.
When a bill is introduced it is said to be 'read for the first time' though this is by title only. The Clerk then reads the date for the second reading. In the mean-time the bill is circulated to all the members.
This is an important stage. The bill is debated and amendments may be proposed (though the amendments may not be in great detail). At the close of the debate (which can be done at the will of the presiding officer in the House but a vote may be required in the Senate) there is a division (vote). If the bill secures a majority then the presiding officer assigns it to a committee (political jargon: the bill is sent upstairs). If the bill is of great public importance eg the budget, terrorism laws etc. then the presiding officer may order a 'committee of the whole house'.
If the bill is sent upstairs then the bill is sent to the committee assigned by the presiding officer which is normally a standing committee. Rarely, important bills are assigned to special committees set up for that bill. Here all the parties are represented in the same proportion as they are in the house. The committee examines the bill clause by clause. The committee may look upon favourably in which case they may propose amendments or they may look upon it unfavourably and table it. If tabled the bill is forgotten about and usually cleared (removed from the list of bills for consideration) within six months. A majority can force the bill to the floor but that rarely happens.
If the committee issues a report then the bill is placed on the house calendar (important bills are moved forward on the calendar). When the bill comes to the floor again then the house debates the amendments and votes upon them. The final bill is then voted upon again and if passed the Clerk assigns a date for the third reading.
The third reading is the final stage within the house. No amendments may be proposed and the bill is often not debated. There is a division and if the bill passes then the bill is refered to the other house of Congress for consideration.
House of Secondary ConsiderationEdit
The process is repeated except for that there is no vote at the first reading.
If the bill fails at the second reading then the bill is defeated unless the house of origin decides to take another vote and re-send it to the other house. If that happens then out of courtesy the presiding officer of the other house assigns it to a committee.
If the bill passes the second reading it is also assigned to a committee.
The committee can propose amendments or it can table the bill. If tabled it dies unless forced to the floor by a vote of the house.
If it issues a report then the bill is placed on a calendar.
Amendments are debated here and voted upon. If amendments are approved then the bill must be sent back to the house of origin to approve of these amendments. If the house of origin refuses these amendments then the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate may decide to appoint a 'conference committee' to reconcile the differences.
If the house of origin approves these amendments then the bill is refered for Presidential Assent.
Members from all parties from each house convene to discuss their differences. They may agree upon a compromise in the form of new amendments or they may not agree in which case the bill dies.
Any compromise must be agreed by both houses. If it is not then the bill is defeated.
The constitution clearly states the rules for presidential assent:
He may sign the bill into law. It becomes law immediately.
He may wait 14 days in which case bill is refered back to both houses and if passed with a simple majority the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must sign it into law.
He may veto it. That is, he may return it to the Union Congress stating his objections in writing. The constitution says that the "number of votes in favour of overruling the Presidential Veto must be equal to twice that of the number of votes not in favour of the same in both houses of the Union Congress". If overruled the bill goes to the Chief Justice to be signed into law.
The President also has the right to refer any bill he deems to be unconstitutional to the Supreme Court and await their desision. If they declare it unconstitutional then the bill is killed. If they find it constitutional then the President may do any of the above (except obviously refer it to the Supreme Court). In order to prevent this being used as a delaying tactic the constitution specifically grants the court the right to refuse a writ of certiorari.
On the rare occasion that both houses of Congress are of different parties to the president the veto is frequently used. Otherwise the president's party usually stops unwanted legislation in whichever house they control.
The Federal Judicial System has evolved over time and has its basis largely in the 'Inferior Courts' clause of the Constitution. The Constitution creates the Supreme Court of the Union and deems it to be "the font of judicial sovereignty within the Union". The judicial branch is in many ways the regulator of the other two 'political' branches of govt. Its 'political' function rests with the Supreme Court, which has original jurisdiction on many constitutional matters. The 'ordinary' function refers to trials and this function too rests with the Supreme Court though in practice it is administered by the inferior courts.
States also have courts to deal with state law. The 50th Amendment 1070 states that "the Supreme Court of the Union shall not nullify any part of the constitution of any state unless said section explicitly contravenes the provisions of this Constitution of the Union or any law passed under it, nor shall it interperate any part of the constitution or laws of any state other than to rule them valid or invalid under the provisions of this constitution". Therefore the Supreme Court may rule against a state constitution which allows judges to be elected by the people as that is unconstitutional but it may not rule that a governor may not be elected for life as the constitution does not prohibit such a scenario. Therefore state law is usually interperated by the Supreme Court of the state not by the Supreme Court of the Union.
Most cases, other than bankruptcy, are dealt with by the state courts. Federal courts hear cases: where there is a dispute over the meaning or constitutionality of a federal law; where there is a dispute between two states; where the case is being taken under a federal law and the relevant state has no such law.
Supreme Court of the UnionEdit
The Supreme Court is a powerful body. It is the highest court in the land and its rulings and interperatations are important to scholars of law as they 'give effect' to the provisions of the constitution
Elevation of Justices to the Supreme CourtEdit
There are many provisions within the constitution to deal with this. When a vacancy arises the President nominates a replacement. Legally, there are no necessary qualifications for being a Supreme Court Justice. Once the President nominates the nominee the Senate must be notified, in writing, of the nomination in accordance with the Constitution. The Senate must then "scrutinise the nominee of the President and notify the President of the Union of their findings in writing" that is the Judicial Committee of the Senate will interview the nominee in conference (in private) and shall investigate the nominee, finally they may interview him again publicly as has been the custom fince the 1800s. The committee will then compile its report and submit it to the Senate and the President. According to the constitution "the President of the Union shall consider the report of the Senate in relation to the nominee and shall inform the Senate of his conclusions in writing. He shall choose whether to confirm or withdraw his nomination of the same person. If he choose to confirm the same then within 14 days of this affirmation the Senate shall put the same motion to the floor of the house and the ayes and nays of those voting shall be recorded in the Senatorial Journal. If the ayes are equal to three-fifths of those voting then the nominee shall be deemed to have received the consent of the Senate." But getting Senatorial Consent is not the final challenge in a candidate's path. The nominee will then have to approved by the existing members of the Supreme Court. In order to stop the President and Senate conspiring to pack the court with 'political' justices the Framers of the Constitution ensured that the existing members would have to approve of new members. The text is as follows "upon the nominee having received the consent of the Senate the president shall present the same to the existing members of the Supreme Court of the Union. If the number of existing Justices of the Supreme Court who feel that the nomination was made in good faith with regard to an independent judicial branch of government is equal to twice the number of those who dissent then the nomination shall be deemed to have been approved by the Supreme Court. The same shall be ascertained by a secret ballot of the existing members of the Supreme Court. From that point the nominee shall be of the status of Justice-Elect and shall be appointed by the President of the Union and sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, unless it is the position of the Chief Justice that is to be filled in which case the President shall swear into office the same." That is, the consent of two-thirds of the members of the supreme court is required before someone may become a justice of the supreme court. This is the most controversial aspect of the selection process as it is criticised as encouraging reactionary justices all of whom must be members of the old boys network.
There is a total of nine members of the Supreme Court (from 980-1132 there were 15 before reverting back to nine. From 1270-1512 this was reduced to seven, one appointed by each state according to their own laws.) Since 1512 there have been nine; eight Ordinary Justices of the Supreme Court (of the Union) and one Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice of the Supreme CourtEdit
The Chief Justice is the chairman of the court and has several ceremonial duties such as inaugurating the president. He is automatically the most senior of the Justices but has no greater voting power. He sits in the middle chair (which is 4 inches higher than the others) while in the Court Chamber. In the chamber most points of order are given by the Chief Justice. The verdict of the Court is given by the Chief Justice and Court Committees are appointed by him alone, this is arguably his most important power. He swears into office the other members of the court and the President of the High Court.
The state dress of the Chief Justice is a full-bottomed wig, red gown, light blue sash from the shoulder to the waist, buckled shoes a black tricorn hat. The Chief Justice also bears a medal with a light blue ribbon that hangs around the neck. The medal is known as the Chief Justice's Medal and symbolises the power vested in the court. The medal is awarded by the President upon the elevation of the Chief Justice and a new one is made for each Chief justice. The state dress is worn when announcing verdicts and promulgating opinions. It is also used for ceremonies such as the inauguration of the President and the Justice Day ceremonies.
The day dress of the Chief Justice, which must be worn in court, is simpler than the state dress and consists of a short judicial wig, red gown, light blue sash and buckled shoes. The full-bottomed wig, medal and tricorn are all omitted.
The Chief Justice has an official residence on Judiciary Row. He receives a salary of £3,500,000. Upon retirement Supreme Court Justices are entitled to their final pay for life plus cost of living increases. All members of the Judiciary both federal and state are guaranteed not to have their salaries reduced during their lives.
Ordinary Justices of the Supreme CourtEdit
The remaining eight justices have equal voting power but have varying seniority depending on their dates of elevation. They sit four on either side of the Chief Justice in the Chamber. They have the same voting power as the Chief Justice though they do not have the right to elect committees. They are sworn in by the Chief Justice.
The state dress of an ordinary justice consists of: a full-bottomed wig, red gown, black sash and buckled shoes. Their medal is also awarded by the President on their appointment and has a black ribbon.
The day dress consists of a short judicial wig, red gown, black sash and buckled shoes. They are distinguishable from the Chief Justice by the colour of their sash. Ordinary Justices are entitled to a residence on Judiciary Row and a salary of £3,000,000. Upon retirement they are entitled to their final pay for the rest of their lives. Their pay may not be reduced in office or in retirement. They too receive cost of living increases.
Seniority affects several aspects of the running of the court. The Chief Justice is always the most senior and is followed by the longest serving Ordinary and so on.
The most visual difference is the number of black buttoms on their sleeves (the Chief Justice has nine, the newest member of the court has one). The second difference is in their seating arangement in the chamber. The Chief Justice sits in the centre and on his immediate right sits the most senior ordinary, on his
Writ of CertiorariEdit
The Constitution grants the Supreme Court the 'Font of Judicial Jurisdiction' clause which has been interpreted to allow the court delegate powers to other courts as it sees fit and is why laws affecting the federal courts must be approved by the Supreme Court (this right is more specifically given in the 129th Amendment 1923 but has been used since 1098). Obviously the Supreme Court can only hear so many cases per session and a country with 750,000,000 people is going make a massive amount of appeals to the Supreme Court. Therefore the High Court exists and has almost identical jurisdiction to the Supreme Court but even then it only hears a fraction of the applications it receives. Because of its powers the Supreme Court is not legally obliged to hear any case and so it picks and chooses the most important cases.
Appeals are made to the High Court and lodged on its Index of Appeals. It is therefore the duty of the High Court to filter the trivial cases from the important ones. It does one of three things to the cases on its Index of Appeals: It refuses the case (this is the case with the vast majority of cases); It can refer it to the Supreme Court in cases of exceptional importance, this is informally know as refering a case upwards and the Supreme Court usually hears the case, this is only done with around 40 cases a year; It can hear the case itself (as is done with approximately 3000 cases annually).
On average the High Court's Index of Appeals can run to up to 20,000 cases (one for every 37,500 people approx). It's the duty of the High Court to go through these and decide what is to be done with them.
Therefore the two sources of appeals to the Supreme Court are appeals from the High Court and cases the High Court refered upwards. There are usually 40 cases refered upwards and 300 cases are appealed from the High Court.
Writs of Certiorari (the document that states that the case will be heard by the Supreme Court, informally known as certs) are granted to about 80 cases per year. One of the biggest criticisms of the court is that it doesn't hear enough cases (as ultimately only 80 are chosen). It goes through the applications and picks the ones it wants to hear. The Chief Justice has the sole right to issue certs though this is not a real power as the convention is that if four justices want a case heard then the writ will be issued and the Chief Justice doesn't issue writs unless at least two justices want the case heard.
The court hears holds its hearings in public in the Palace of Justice.
The Chief Justice is regarded as the chairman of the court and makes most of the points of order himself (eg ruling that counsel's question was irrelevant). When trying matters of fact (which it has a right to do even if it does so infrequently) witnesses are usually called to give evidence. At all times all the justices are entitled to interrupt and to ask questions themselves.
Once all arguments have been made the case is closed and the Justices retreat to the 'Conference Room', there they discuss the case in conference (in private). These meetings are not usually very formal and are more of a detailed discussion (similar to a jury that knows each other) of the case. Minutes are not taken and the Justices are under oath not to quote each other afterwards (that is to the media or other people) as the discussion is meant to be secret.
The members do not have a secret vote as that is a matter of public record as per the 63rd Amendment. Prior to that most votes were recorded though many were not. The justices use a 'signed ballot' method for voting, they are given a printed ballot with all the issues that are to be voted upon printed on it. The justices fill out the ballot and sign it. They then place the ballot into the ballot box. The Chief Justice then opens the ballot box and the votes are counted and recorded. For most issues a simple majority is that is required (unless the issue is one of accpting a new justice or a change of in the organisation of the federal court service).
The matter of the opinion is then to be sorted out, it is the most senior justice in the majority who choses the opinion writer, he may chose himself but whoever he does chose must be in the majority. The opinion is very important as it forms case law of the highest order and may be interpreted for years to come. All justices have the right to write assents or more commonly dissents. They do not form case law however and as cynics say are little more than press releases to the world of academic law, disassociating the justice in question from the verdict.
Unless the case closes very late the conference is usually held directly after the close. If the court takes more than the evening to decide upon a verdict then the two sides in the case are usually told to go home for the evening and that the case will be called again, often a day or so later, and they'll be told of the verdict of the court. Sometimes the justices come to their conclusion that evening and they return to the chamber (in a manner similar to a jury) and give their verdict, this is particularly common for less complex cases and ones that finish early in the day.
When giving verdict the custom is for the justices to change into their state dress, they usualy go to their offices which are located within the Palace and which are equiped with dressing rooms. They enter the court in procession, as they always do anyway, and the verdicts are read by the Chief Justice. Opinions are not usually released until a month or two later.
High Court of JusticeEdit
Prior to Judicature Act 1567Edit
Created in 1567 by the Judicature Act the High Court was a merger of the 'Four Courts': the Court of Presidential Question (the criminal appeals court), the Court of Civil Pleas (for civil appeals), the Court of Federation (a court that dealt with constitutional matters, disputes between states, the interpretation of federal law and cases where the Union was the defendant) and the Court of Exchequer (the tax court and it dealt with matters related to public expenditure). These four courts had been operating as seperate bodies for over 600 years and had gradually become bureaucratic agglomerations, infamous for backlogs and expense. Prior to 1200 fees were payable to the courts, though they counted as costs and would be payed by the losing side, for hearing cases so therefore the cost of a case was extremely high. Only the wealthy could afford to bring their cases to court. In 1200 the Union Congress abolished such fees and instead the costs of the court were payed by the state. Therefore millions of people could afford to bring their cases to court as they had only their lawyer's frees to worry about. The caseload of the courts grew immensely and so there was a backlog of several years for those who couldn't afford to bribe people in order to push the case forward, especially in Civil Pleas and Federation. The legal profession didn't mind this as the longer a case could be dragged out for, and the more preliminary hearings could be, the more money they made. The frustrating pace and ludicrous expense of the federal court service eventually became tiresome and unfit for purpose. In 1564 Joseph Reid was inaugurated as President of the Union. He was a member of the reform-minded Ballindeo Alliance and promised reform.
Judicature Act 1567Edit
Reid appointed Frederic von Dellven to the office of Minister of Federal Affairs (equivalent to Home Affairs today). Von Dellven commissioned a report into the best way of dealing with the four courts question. They reported a year later in 1565 and that left the government with a year to decide on the matter. They agreed with the report and decided to abolish the courts and instead create one High Court of Justice. They bill was introduced to the Senate by the President in person on the 1st of February 1566.
This act was passed by Congress on the 4th of December 1566 and was signed by President Reid the following day. The bill was then reffered to the Supreme Court for ratification (as per the 1098 Laurenson vs the Union ruling, a case that resulted in the Supreme Court granting itself the power to ratify changes to the inferior courts). The Supreme Courrt deliberated for seven weeks, many members of the Four Courts were opposed to the new High Court as they benefitted from the old system. Eventually the Supreme Court decided by eight votes to one to allow the bill to pass, the Chief Justice duly signed the bill into law on the 24th of January 1567. The act became effective the following January.
It abolished the four courts and created one High Court of Justice. This court was to be divided four divisions (sections dealing with different types of cases) and these divisions were to retain the same titles and jurisdictions as the previous four courts. The existing four courts judges were to keep their jobs and pay under the new system. As a concession it was agreed that head of each division would retain their previous title (Inquisitor-General in Presidential Question; Vice-President of the High Court in Civil Pleas, previously in the Court of Civil Pleas this was President of the Court but instead the title was changed so as to avoid confusion; Justiciar in Federation; and Compositor-General in Exchequer). This new court was headed by the newly created President of the High Court. More 'Judges of the High Court' were appointed to reduce the case backlog and within a few years the new court was far speedier, less costly and less backlogged than the previous four courts. The four courts had sat in a large stone building of the same name for the previous hundred years and the new court continued to sit there, though the building continued to be known as the 'Four Courts'. In 1889 this building burned down and a new one was built in its place, today the court still sits there.
The Split of the Chancery CourtEdit
The constitution requires the federal government to provide a uniform bankruptcy code. Thus all bankruptcy actions are heard by federal courts. Therefore bankruptcy cases were very in the High Court, as all bankruptcies for more than £100 had to be dealt with by the High Court. This duty was assigned to the Civil pleas division. However the division was becoming overwhelemed with such cases, which by 1712 accounted for 70% of its business, and thus it was deemed necessary to find another means of dealing with bankruptcy.
On the 29th of January 1725 the President Fonns signed the Union Court of Chancery Act 1725 and thus created an independent court. This was opposed by the then President of the High Court William Standsern and Vice-President of the High Court Louis Maille, both testified against the Act in the Supreme Court hearing. However, much to the irritation of Standsern and Maille, the Compositor-General Abel Thomson and Justiciar Bernard Éffesse both supported the Act spoke in its favour before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court decided that the Act was within the remit of the 'Just and Efficient Judiciary' Clause of the Constitution and so decided by five votes to four to 'approbate the Act'. The new court was formally established on the 1st of January 1726. Thus, a significant portion of the High Court's jurisdiction was removed.
Maille resigned in protest three days after the act was approbated by the Supreme Court.
The High Court ExpandsEdit
Over the centuries to come the work of the High Court increased as did its size. However, its structure changed little, the same four divisions still exist, the same titles are still in use and until 1963 all cases were heard by a panel of three judges. Juries were abolished in the Civil Pleas division in 1982 except for defamation cases, juries have never been used in the Exchequer and Federation divisions and are used only rarely in Presidential Question. Due to the ever increasing workload and the fact that the Supreme Court hears so few case the High Court usually has the final say on the cases that come before it.
Formally known as 'Judges of the High Court' and informally known as Purples (due to their purple robes), high court judges are nominated by the President of the Union, approved by the Senate, then appointed by the President of the Union and ceremonially inaugurated by the president of the High Court (or by the Chief Justice in the case of the President of the High Court). However, the President of the Union may only appoint judges to the High Court and the President of the High Court, he may not decide what role they shall have within the court.
The Inquisitor-General, Vice-President of the High Court, Justiciar and Compositor-General are appointed to serve during good behaviour by the President of the High Court. Each of the above heads a division of the High Court and the President of the High Court heads the High Court as a whole.
Like all judges they are appointed to serve during good behaviour.
There are 300 judges (200 ordinary, 100 'medals'), excluding the division heads and the court President. Each judge usually works for around 36 weeks a year. For this service they get paid £2,500,000 (£2,750,000 for the medals). Division heads get paid £3,000,000 the same as a Supreme Court Justice and the court president gets paid £3,250,000.
Judges sit in panels of three during trials and hearings, except for preliminary hearings in which case one judge sits alone, one of these three is the medal, so called because he wears a medal with a red ribbon to show that he is more senior. The medal sits in the middle and makes rulings on points of order.
Of the 100 medals, 50 are automatically granted as they are the fifty longest serving judges of the court. The remaining 50 are 'granted' 10 each by the division heads and the court President. Once granted medals cannot be revoked during good behavior.
Their robes are purple with a red sash. They wear short wigs in court but when delivering verdicts and sentences they wear full-bottomed wigs, this forms their state dress.
Judges are nominated by the President and apporoved by the Senate. Once approved they are appointed by the President and serve during good behavior.
Unlike Supreme Court Justices, who may serve for ever, High Court Judges may only serve until they are 75, though they may retire on a full pension (equivalent to their final salary) after 15 years service.
The Four Courts never left the confines of the City of Saloire in all their history but when the new court was formed it was deemed proper that some of the judges 'ride on circuit' around the Union. The judges themselves never liked 'riding circuit' but they did so until the 1660s. Since then the High Court only sits outside of the Four Courts House on rare occasions.
The Union Court of ChanceryEdit
Handles all cases of bankruptcy where the amount in question is more than £500,000. The states are responsible for bankruptcy where the amount is less than that. Therefore the court is very busy and receives on average 1.5 million cases annually. Obviously it requires a very large system to handle all of these cases and so there are five layers to the court. All these tiers are part of the same Union Court of Chancery.
The reason for its title 'Chancery' comes from the fact that bankrupt assets and companies are made wards of the court.
The every Federal Chancery District (FBD) has a court. An FCD is a section of a state serviced by a local division of the Chancery Court. Most of the caseload (86.6%) is heard by the FCDs. The court aims to have one such district for every 1 million people, and it sits locally, usually in the largest town or city in the district. The FCDs get 1.3 million filings annually. There are 750 FCDs in Stausland and they are subject to the circuit. They hear cases whered the 'controversy' is less than £3,000,000 and more than £500,000. Judges of the FCDs are known as FCD Judges and are paid £180,000 annually, except for the 'Senior Judge' who is paid an additional £20,000. The office of Senior Judge has, sine 1970, been appointed by the High Chancellor of the Union, usually on the advice of the session's Chief of Session. Prior to 1970 the Senior Judge was the longest serving judge in the FCD. Judges hear cases alone. Accross the country there are 62,000 such judges including 750 Seniors. On average each FCD has between 70 and 80 judges.
Federal Chancery CircuitEdit
This is the next tier of the court. This court hears cases where the value is between £3,000,000 and £15,000,000 (approx 12% of the caseload). They comprise between five and ten FCDs. They usually sit in the most most populous (or historically so) city in the Circuit. They get a total of 180,000 filings annually. There are 80 circuits in Stausland. There are 5,200 Chancery Circuit Judges in Stausland with an average of 60 to 70 per circuit. Every circuit has a Circuit Chief. Ordinary judges receive £1,000,000 and Chiefs £1,100,000. They too hear cases alone.
Federal Court of Chancery SessionEdit
Is the next tier of court. While the name is somewhat confusing though the court actually deals with larger amounts of controversy on a state-wide basis. The reason why there is no mention of 'state' in its title is so that it won't be confused with a state court operating under state law. 'Session' and state boundaries are always the same and so a session in this context is just the name of a state-wide division of the Court of Chancery.
The session hears cases where the amount in controversy exceeds £15,000,000 but is less than £50,000,000 (depending on how many cases the Outer Court is taking). These amount to a national total of 20,000 filings annually approx.
There is a Session Court house in every state capital. The number of judges in each session depends on the population of that state, there are 670 in total. The largest state, Santoire, has 188, the smallest state, Vynnton, has 27. These judges also hear cases alone. They get paid £2,000,000 and the longest serving 20% get a 20% increment. The head of each session is known as the Chief of Session. He is paid £2,200,000 annually.
The Outer Court of the Union Court of Chancery is the next tier. It hears only a select few cases, approximately 500 filings annually. It has 60 Judges Lesser Ordinary (of the Union Court of Chancery, commonly known as Lessers) who hear the cases in 30 sittings of three. Each sitting is chaired by a Judge Greater Ordinary (commonly known as Greats) of which there are thirty. Therefore each sitting has a Great and two Lessers. The Greats are elevated by the High Chancellor (of the Judiciary). This court hears cases worth over £50,000,000.
This Court is similar to the High Court in structure. Lessers are paid £2,250,000 and Greats £2,500,000.
The court sits in Chancery House, Chancery Square, Saloire.
Except for points of law, this is the highest authority on bankruptcy in the land. Its 25 judges take only 60 filings a year - the 60 largest and mosty profile in Stausland.
The Judges sit in sittings of five, and unlike in the Outer Court these sittings don't change for each new case. The head of each sitting is known as a Vice-Chancellor (of the Judiciary) and is appointed to this role as part of his elevation (that is by the President of the Union with the consent of the Senate). The court is located in Chancery House too.
The head of the court, and indeed of the entire Chancery Court Service, is formally known as the High Chancellor of the Judiciary, or more commonly as the Chancellor or Court Chancellor. He is paid £3,250,000. He wears the full bottomed wig in court, though he rarely does. When in court he sits with one of the sittings.
Vice-Chancellors are paid £3,000,000 and wear full-bottomed wigs when in court.
Judes Extraordinary (commonly known as extras) wear short wigs and earn £2,750,000.
Federal Circuit CourtEdit
Each state represents a federal circuit. These circuits have both criminal and civil divisions. These courts here the vast majority of cases heard by the federal court service. Appeals are to the High Court. Each circuit has a varying amount of circuit judges (the junior half of whom earn £300,000, the senior £450,000). There are 320 circuit judges in total, plus one President and two vice-presidents in each circuit (who earn £1,000,000 and £750,000 respectively). Disputes between states and questions of law are dealt with by the High Court.
At federal level there are only two main political parties - the Conservative Party (the Tories) and the Labour Party. The Liberal Party also exists at federal level, though it has been a weak player since the 50s and 60s and there has been no liberal president since 1948 when Kenneth Sannos of Labour was inaugurated president after defeating Liberal Vernon Martin the year before.
The Tories are more right wing than Labour and the Liberals stand somewhere in between.
Between them Labour and the Tories have been in the (Presidential) Palace for all but 20 of the last 148 years.
The fact that the House and the president are elected at the same time for the same term means that they very rarely are held by different parties. However, there have been exceptions to this rule: from 1964 to 1968 there was a Tory president, Hugh Wessel, but the Labour-Liberal coalition held a slender majority in the House - the Tories held a slender majority in the Senate; from 1944-1948 the Tories controlled the House whereas the Senate was controlled by the Liberals.