The Central Galactic Congress is the national legislature of the Central Galactic Union. With 4,861 members, it is the largest parliamentary body in the Galaxy. Under the current constitution, the Congress is structured as a unicameral body comprised of a mixture of appointed, hereditary, and elected members, with the power to legislate, the power to oversee the operation of the government, and the power to approve and elect certain public officers of state.
Almost fifteen hundred members of the Congress are hereditary peers of varying ranks, drawn from the traditional and created nobility of the Terran Empire and its allied states. Another eleven hundred members are Life Peers, each possessing a noble title and a seat in Congress by appointment rather than hereditary right. The remaining members are elected from a variety of constituencies for a term of six years. These elected members are all referred to as Tribunes. A group of 231 former Tribunes comprise the Senate, a combined rules committee and constitutional court, whose members hold their seats for life. The Supreme Chancellor of the Republic acts as President of the Congress and chairs all legislative sessions.
The Central Galactic Congress is the supreme lawmaking organ of the Union government, with legislative matters affecting the entirety of the administered Galaxy.
Powers and Duties
Article II of the Union Constitution outlines the general powers, duties, and structure of the Central Galactic Congress. It states, "Supreme legislative power shall be vested in a Congress representing the whole of the Central Galactic Union," and further outlines the unicameral nature of the Congress and the enumerated powers it possesses. Among others, it possesses the sole power to "To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the Republic, To borrow money on the credit of the Union, To regulate commerce between worlds and with respect to other states, To coin money and regulate its Value, To regulate standards of weights and measures. To grant titles of nobility and honour or other position by Letters Patent, and grant privileges as is deemed appropriate. To grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal or to authorize duly designated authorities to grant such Letters in the name of Congress. To define felonies and other criminal acts. To Declare War and To provide for the organizing, training, and discipline of Armed Forces for the Defence of the Republic. To make rules to regulate the Government of the Republic and the Armed Forces. To make all laws which are deemed necessary and proper to exercise the forgoing powers. And to make acts Enabling the Executive to rule by decree in order to properly carry out the security and administration of the Republic in times of war, crisis or emergency."
All bills must be given Executive Assent by the Supreme Chancellor in order to become law. However, the Congress must originate all bills except in event of a national emergency. The powers of the Congress have thus far been interpreted broadly, with the open language of the Union Constitution allowing for expansive applicability of its power to legislate on many matters of import to the Union Government. Most especially the "necessary and proper clause", a term borrowed from the ancient constitution of the American Empire, has enabled the Congress to possess many implied powers and pass legislation outside of the narrow scope of its enumerated powers. Chancellor Maximilian, the chief architect of the Constitution, has gone on record stating that this was intentional, and that the constitution "must be a living, breathing document, just as our Republic is a living, breathing national entity."
Congress convenes on February 1 of each year for an annual legislative term. The word Congress can also refer to a particular meeting of the legislature. A Congressional term is divided into six such sessions. The Constitution requires the Congress to meet at least once per year, which by custom is from February 1-14. Full legislative sessions require a quorum of one-quarter of the members, and the President of the Congress.
In between full sessions of the Congress, legislative duties may be carried out by a standing committee, defined in section 3 as the Central Committee of the Central Galactic Congress.
The Congress, while a unicameral assembly, is composed of a mixture of hereditary, appointed, and elected members. These members are grouped informally under Colleges. The membership composition is defined by section 1 of Article II of the Constitution,
"[...]The Congress shall be presided over by the Supreme Chancellor, with the office and title of President of Congress. The Congress shall be composed of select Members recognized by law as holding a hereditary title, of Members appointed by the Senate, and of Members chosen every sixth year by the People of the Union."
Section 2 defines the apportionment of the elected members,
"Elected Members shall be composed of Members from the Sol System, Members from the branches of Armed service, Members from the corporative entities of society, and Members from all other Worlds. The first category shall be composed of one Member for Earth, one Member for Luna, and one Member for each other planet in the Sol System. Delegations from all other constituent worlds of this Union shall be apportioned among the several Star Systems or groups of Star Systems which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by the whole number of free Persons. The number of Members shall not exceed one for every two hundred billion citizens. The branches of Armed service shall each elect one hundred Members per Branch. Each corporative entity, as defined by Acts of Congress, shall each elect one hundred Members. As these Elected Members represent the People, they shall be called Tribunes of the People."
Section 2 also clarifies the selection process for hereditary, noble, and other members,
"Members of hereditary noble title shall be selected by the Senate, and once selected shall serve for life and shall pass their right of Membership in the Congress to the heir of that title. Other Members may be appointed by the Senate, and once appointed shall serve for life. The number of hereditary Members shall not exceed one thousand five hundred, and the number of appointed Members shall not exceed one thousand five hundred. Members holding a seat in the Congress on the basis of holding noble title shall not hold multiple seats on the basis of multiple titles or offices."
Its hereditary members consist of 1,462 members drawn from two unofficial colleges. The so-called College of Princes consist of 425 members of the Congress drawn primarily from the upper nobility of the former Terran Empire and its allied states, all of princely, ducal, royal, and imperial rank. Another 1,037 members are hereditary peers of less than princely rank, collectively referred to as the College of Lords. Another 1,100 members are Life Peers, each possessing a noble title and a seat in Congress by appointment rather than hereditary right, and are referred to as the College of Peers. The rest are elected delegations from the member worlds and colonies of the Central Galactic Union. Any elected representative in the Congress is accorded the title Tribune. Tribunes consist of 1,960 members, and are divided into delegations.
The Sol System delegation consists of 9 Tribunes. The member worlds and colonies elect Tribunes in proportion to population, totaling 1,660 Tribunes; these are apportioned per the Election Act and the Administrative Act in constituencies called Sectors, with an additional Sector-level constituency for spacers. The State Security Forces, Republic Security, and each of the six branches of the Armed Forces each elects a delegation of 100 Tribunes, each of whom are statutorily required to be a general officer of their branch of service.
The following organizations also each elect a delegation of 100 Tribunes:
- The National Labor Front, the Republic's sole industrial labor union, representing all workers in the CGU.
- The Corporation of Livery Companies, an union of all trade associations and guilds, thereby representing independent workers not in the NLF or the government service.
- The Chambers of Commerce, a confederation of employers' organizations, representing businesses and their proprietors who, by definition, are members of neither the NLF nor the CLC.
- The National Universities League, representing all institutions of higher education in the CGU.
- The National Students League, representing all student corporations, corps, fraternities, and sororities.
- The Galactic Learned Societies Union, a confederation representing all academic and learned societies.
- The Commission of the New Order, a confederation representing civic organizations active in promoting National Humanism and adherence to the new order of the Republic.
The exact method by which the people would choose the Tribunes was left ambiguous, so as to be determined by the Provisional Congress; single-member constituencies were too unwieldy and the abolition of political parties rendered a proportional representation system unworkable. Per the Election Act of 3275, all delegations are determined indirectly by electoral commissions for their respective constituencies.
The Supreme Chancellor is Constitutionally entitled to a seat as President of the Congress.
The Congress organizes itself into committees, most of them being constituted by Congressional internal rule-making, a power enumerated to it in section 1, Article II of the Constitution.
Only one committee is Constitutionally mandated, defined in section 3,
"The Congress shall form within itself a Central Committee by which the powers of Congress may be exercised when Congress is not in full session."
However, the exact composition is left up to Congress to determine at a later point. The Central Committee was defined by the Central Committee Composition Act of 3275 as being composed of the President of the Congress, the President of the Senate, the Secretary General, the chairpersons of each standing committee, the chairpersons of each armed services delegation, and the chairpersons of each corporative delegation. The Tribunes in the Central Committee are rotated at the start of a new legislative session. This Central Committee stands at 43 members, with the President of Congress as a tie-breaking vote. The day-to-day leadership of the Presidium is vested in the Secretary General, currently Ichikawa Misa.
Aside from the Central Committee, the Congress is composed of committees established under the provisions of Congressional procedural rules and in accordance with the Legislative Organization Act. There are presently twenty-four standing committees. These are permanent legislative panels operating within a specialized area of law and policy, and have the power to write legislation and discharge it onto the floor for general consideration and deliberation. Because they have legislative jurisdiction, standing committees consider bills and issues and recommend measures for consideration and have oversight responsibility to monitor agencies, programs, and activities within their jurisdictions, and in some cases in areas that cut across committee jurisdictions.
The committee system has a long and successful history of streamlining the legislative process, but primarily derives from the use of it in the Imperial Parliament of the Terran Empire.
The Senate is defined by section 3,
"The Congress shall also form within itself a select assembly to moderate the other Members of Congress, to be called the Senate for each of its Members shall be called Senator of the Republic, which shall be presided over by a chief officer elected from among themselves. The Senate may determine the Rules of Congress' Proceedings, punish Members for disorderly behavior, and expel a member of the Congress. The Senate shall have the power to appoint Members of the Congress, under the provisions of section two. Judicial power to review laws for their adherence to this Constitution, and nullify them on that basis, shall be vested in the Senate."
The Senate is the regulating assembly of the Congress, and has the sole power to censure or expel other members of Congress and make rules for Congressional parliamentary procedure. Due to this, it has been described as a constitutionally-mandated standing Rules Committee.
It also has the unique power of judicial review of laws, ensuring that all legislation is in accordance with the Constitution. If the Senate determines that a law is unconstitutional, the law may be declared null and void. However, unlike other previous supreme courts, it is not an integral part of regular judicial or appeals process and does not serve as an appellate court on any violation of interstellar, planetary, or local laws. In judicial matters, the Senate has a special and focused area of responsibility. The Senate exists to ensure the compliance of all government institutions with the Constitution.
Section 3 further defines the composition of the Senate,
"Senators shall be selected by a two-thirds vote of the Congress, and shall consist of a number of elected Members no larger than one-twentieth of the total membership of the Congress, rounded to the nearest odd number. Once selected, a Senator no longer shall be considered a representative of their portion of the People and shall serve for life."
Senators are constitutionally mandated to be drawn from the Tribunes. Senators serve for life, or until resignation or expulsion, and are chosen by other members of the Congress. At present, there are Tribunes. Upon selection, a Senator vacates their existing seat, which is automatically put up for a special election. The Senate is presided over by a President of the Senate.
To streamline its judicial functions, the Senate divides itself into several panels of ten members each, each of which is empowered to hear cases and make determinations on constitutional law, and an eleven-member supreme panel. Decisions by a panel are required to be unanimous. A panel is not authorized to overrule a standing precedent of another panel, and such issues will be submitted to the supreme panel. In all other cases, the supreme panel is empowered to make final review of each panel's determinations, and is chaired by the President of the Senate.
The Central Galactic Union was created in stages starting in 3275; after the conclusion of the Great War on 1 March, negotiations began over the postwar settlement. The human nations had banded together in the loose Central Galactic Confederation in November 3270, and increasing legislative and administrative powers were delegated by the member nations to the Confederate Assembly. This assembly was composed of a mix of appointed and elected members from each nations' legislatures, and legislative committees exercised executive power alongside of a Board of Consuls, composed of the heads of state of each member nation. The Assembly voted to dissolve the member states on 30 March 3275 and commissioned a Constitutional Convention to develop a new charter for the confederation; the existing membership of the Assembly was enabled to serve as the Confederate Assembly for one year. After the promulgation of the Central Galactic Constitution on 20 April, the Assembly was reconstituted as the Provisional Congress.
The Provisional Congress elected Maximilian Compton the provisional Chancellor and voted him dictatorial powers for one year. In concert, the Provisional Congress and the provisional government reorganised the administration of the planets, reformed and standardised the various law codes, created government ministries, and established the armed, civil, and security services.
Important laws passed during this time include:
- The Oaths Act, 21 April 3275, outlined the form and manner of oaths made by public officials.
- The National Symbols Act, 21 April 3275, outlined and regulated the national flag, emblem, anthem, and other major symbols of the Republic.
- The Revenue Act, 21 April 3275, created the Galactic Mint, established the central revenue system, and promulgated the first taxation and appropriations bill.
- The Ministries Act, 21 April 3275, established the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, and the War Office.
- The Security Act, 22 April 3275, established the standing armed forces, and reorganised the Terran State Security apparatus within the provisional Ministry of the Interior.
- The Central Committee Composition Act, 30 April 3275, outlined the composition and structure of the Central Committee of the Central Galactic Congress.
- The Judiciary Act, 2 May 3275, created federal courts, district attorneys, and converted most existing courts into the new system of judicial circuits.
- The Administrative Act, 3 May 3275, established the definitions of member worlds, federal colonies, federal districts, and occupied territories; established sectors as an administrative unit for managing federal services; and defined the consuls, ministers, and their respective organisational bodies. Also established the national executive and symbolic capital as Constance, Earth.
- The Admission Act, 3 May 3275, admitted an initial 101 million worlds as Member Worlds of the Union.
- The Honours and Peerages Act, 5 May 3275, established the Peerage of the Republic and the honours system by transferring over most previous peerages and titles systems and synthesizing them.
- The Legislative Organisation Act, 19 May 3275, enabled and laid out rules for the Congressional committees, and further refined the structure of the future Congress. It apportioned seats for Senators among the sectors created by the Administrative Act.
- The Social Services Act, 1 June 3275, established a comprehensive health and welfare infrastructure under the new provisional Ministry of Human Services. It created a public and universal health insurance and service system based on the Terran model, rolling all existing public health services into the PHS; a comprehensive welfare and benefits system; and a state-provided basic income.
- The Infrastructure Act, 2 June 3275, established a comprehensive communications, transportation, and utilities infrastructure under various federal agencies and departments, splitting the Communications, Science and Energy, and Transportation ministries from the Ministry of the Interior.
- The Alien Registration and Control Act, 17 June 3275, outlined the registration, regulation, and control of alien populations; established the Bureau of Alien Affairs under the Ministry of the Interior and provided for the enslavement of all aliens not indicated as free and a program for the renting of them to private persons and organisations; and provided for remanding of fugitive servile aliens to the police and made alien flight or escape from servitude a crime subject to punishment by administrative means.
- The Copyrights and Patent Act, 15 July 3275, established rules and regulations for copyright, patents, and other intellectual property, as well as the timeframe for a copyright to enter public domain.
- The Crimes Act, 6 August 3275, established the first federal criminal code.
- The Law Code Continuation Act, 17 October 3275, compiled existing law codes from the previous human nations and established them as precedent for the Galactic legal system, prescribing a hierarchy of preceding legal codes in determining which precedent holds, with Terran law holding primacy.
The first Galactic general election was held in January 3275; local electoral colleges chose the Tribunes between 6 January and 1 February. The 1st Congress convened in February and set about electing the Supreme Chancellor, electing the Senate, establishing new ministries of government, and set forth the annual budget. The Defense Authorization Act established the current structure of the Ministry of War and its service departments. The Public Security Act, also called the First Public Security Act, established the Ministry of State Security and organised the police commissions, which had previously been under the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice, respectively. While not technically an Act of Congress, the Senate determined the hereditary peers who would hold seats in the Congress, and selected almost two thousand persons to serve in the Congress as life peers.
The interwar period saw the development of legislative power over wide areas of Galactic civil and political life, and the vesting of the executive arm of government with the power to enforce and apply these laws. The Senate received many cases pertaining to constitutional law. The Congress also was forced to deal with certain political crises; the revolt in the Far Rim in 3279 saw the Congress vote dictatorial power to Chancellor Maximilian for a period of a year and a day to handle the violent crisis and the punishment of rebels by administrative means; as the revolt continued, the Congress voted emergency powers to the Chancellor again in 3280 and 3281. Other events, such as the Keystone Incident, led to considerable changes in the political landscape of the Republic. The 2nd Congress was elected and met in early 3282, and enacted the Organic Act that July, which granted colony worlds the right to elect their own governments, should they choose to do so by amending their colonial charters. As of 3299, around one-third of federal colonies have amended their charters to have elected governments. Another consequence of the revolt and the Keystone terrorist attacks was the Anti-Terror Act of 3281, which enabled the Security Service to issue punishments by administrative means to persons that present an immediate threat and a clear and present danger to the Republic, and to commission three-person administrative tribunals to conduct inquiries.
The escalation of piracy and gang violence in the Outer Colonies, Banat, and Outer Rim regions led to the second instance of the Congress voting emergency powers to the Chancellor. The Pirate War began in late 3284 as a conflict between street gangs and space pirates, but by January 3285 had escalated into a terror campaign against Galactic society by the Yellow Jackets pirate guild. On 22 January 3285, a state of emergency was declared and Chancellor Maximilian issued a decree against the Yellow Jackets, denouncing them as terrorists and subject to military action and punishment by administrative means. The state of emergency was declared over on 1 June 3285 with the exception of the Banat sector, which was still subject to executive emergency action by Act of Congress until 3287.
In the wake of the Pirate War, the Congress demanded an investigation into its causes. A Joint Security Inquiry was launched in July 3285, continuing through January 3286. The inquiry was under the legal oversight of the Congressional Public Security Committee and the Armed Service Committee, and delegated to a task force led by the Chair of the Joint Military Staff. The investigation reported on the endemic poverty and the breakdown of social services in the Banat, Arcturus Cluster, Outer Colonies, and Outer Traverse regions. The Congress approved new budget bills increasing social welfare spending, particularly in the economically-depressed colonies.
The report also led to the passage of the "second" Public Security Act on 30 April 3286. This act dissolved the National Police Department and merged its constituent agencies into the Republic Security Department; it further enabled the Central State Police to federalise all local police at the discretion of federal police inspectors in times of emergency; and gave provision for Consuls to exercise total command and occupational authority over member worlds in states of emergency. The act overhauled and centralised policing in order to better conduct the public security.