Constitution of Silofais

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Silofaisan Constitution
Ratified3rd June, 2017
(In current form)
Date effective3rd June, 2017
LocationSilofaisan archives
Author(s)Avro Keatings
SignatoriesMembers of ratification convention
PurposeTo establish the Republic of Silofais

The Silofaisan Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Silofais. The Constitution, divided into eight chapters and thirty-one articles, "stipulates a national government comprised of four branches"[1] and sets out how those branches interact, delineating the framework of Silofaisan governance.

  • Chapter One deals with the name of the country, the national language, and general definitions of concepts such as "the People", "the State" and "the Government",[2] among other matters;
  • Chapter Two deals with the particular "Powers and Duties"[3] of government officials and institutions, including the Office of the President, the National Assembly, the executive branch headed by the Chief Secretary, and the judicial branch made up of the Supreme Court and other, inferior courts. It also covers how certain government officials are appointed and dismissed;[4]
  • Chapter Three deals with "subnational bodies", and establishes the unitary political system; it does, however, give the government the authority to delegate powers to government bodies subordinate to the central one if it can be more efficiently exercised there.[5] It also debars government officials in subnational bodies holding any other position of "Power, Trust or Profit" during their tenure;
  • Chapter Four deals with "Franchise",[6] and deals with, in general, who is granted political suffrage in the Republic and, in general, the rules for elections, as well as the specific constitutional rules for the election of the President[7] and the National Assembly,[8] as well as making gerrymandering illegal;
  • Chapter Five deals with the rights of the populace, offering all citizens equal rights and protection under the law,[9] criminalizing slavery,[10] guaranteeing religious freedom[11] and guaranteeing a right to free speech,[12] among other rights. It also deals with the civil power over the military, the limits of private legislation, and the oath required to take political office;
  • Chapter Six deals with emergencies where suspension of the law may need to occur to ensure the survival of the state;
  • Chapter Seven sets out how amendments to the Constitution can be made;
  • Chapter Eight contains the rules for ratification of the Constitution, the transition period after the Constitution's ratification, and the names of the signatories to the Constitution.

Since its ratification in June 2017, the Constitution has not been amended once. All forty-one pages of the Constitution were submitted to the ratification convention and remain there in their original format.

One of the longest micronational constitutions, it lasts forty-one pages and comes to a total of 15,321 words including section numbers.

Background

The Constitution was framed almost entirely by future Speaker Avro Keatings over a period of four years.[13]

The Constitution was first ratified during the first Silofaisan ratification convention. The first Constitution created all four branches as originally intended, divided between the judiciary headed by the Supreme Court, the legislature made up of the bicameral National Assembly, the executive branch headed by the Chief Secretary, and the presidency. However, following a mass exodus of government officials in late April, a new ratification convention was undertaken to take account of the fact that the size of the body of citizens had been reduced considerably. During that convention, it was decided that the Senate would be moved into abeyance until the country had thirty citizens,[14] conveying all of the Senate's powers on the Chamber of Delegates.[15]

Original frame

The Constitution in its original form is an extensive legal document length-wise, with a total of forty-one pages with 15,321 words covering a range of matters relating to the framework of the national government. At the moment, it remains unamended and remains in force in the format in which it was ratified in June, 2017.

Chapter One

Coat of arms of the Republic

The first Chapter of the Constitution deals with general provisions, such as the name of the state - the "Republic of Silofais", or “Silōfais Res Silōt"[16] in the Silofaisan conlang - as well as defining key provisions for the sake of the remainder of the document, such as "the People", "the State", "the Government" and "the common Law".[17] In particular, it establishes constitutional supremacy,[18] or the legal doctrine that common law is inferior to constitutional law.[19]

The Government, as it is created in the first chapter, exists to "undertake and realize the Law",[20] and, to that end, is thereby divided into four branches: the Office of the Presidency, the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judiciary. The Constitution additionally sets out the concept of separation of powers, preventing any one branch from "[exercising] those Powers and Duties which may belong properly to another".[21]

The Constitution also prevents in this chapter the capacity for government officers holding any "position of Power, Trust or Profit"[22] can hold any other such position during their tenure.

In Article III of this Chapter, "The People",[23] sets out the principle that the Government be made up of "the People" of the state as "the People" was previously defined.[24] (Citizenship was later defined more specifically in the Citizenship Definition Act of 2017 as someone who is "born naturally or naturalized" and who is "subject to and obliged to obey, and therefore entitled to the rights, privileges and protection of... the Sovereignty of the Republic of Silofais, and... the Constitution and laws thereof".[25]) It also enshrines the rights to freedom to live, work and travel freely within the legal confines of the nation, as well as other rights - which are enumerated later, in Chapter Five - while noting that such enumeration of rights is not exhaustive, referring to "other Rights, which are unnamed herein but retained nonetheless by the People".[26][27] Finally, it makes the right to hold political office a right exclusive to citizenship of Silofais only, and further provides that only citizens can vote in elections for said political offices.


Chapter Two

Chapter Two covers the powers of each branch of the government, starting with the President.

The President

Seal of the President

The President, fully styled as "the President of the Republic of Silofais",[28] is, under Article IV of the Constitution, the "Head of State"[29] of the nation and is responsible for enforcing the Constitution of the nation. They are elected, by the public directly, to a term of five years, "[ending] at noon on the twentieth day of September and [beginning] then for his successor".[30]

While in office, the President enjoys legal immunity from suits in law - though this immunity expires as soon as they leave office. The Constitution also entitles them to a salary set by law, but an individual President's salary cannot be changed during the service of their term - any rise in salary during a term in office takes effect after the current presidential term expires.[31] Additionally, they cannot take any other emolument or salary while in office, nor can they hold any other post.

The Constitution sets a number of regulations as to who can serve as President - only persons who have lived in the Republic for fourteen years, are over the age of thirty-five, been natural-born (or were naturalized within fifteen years of the ratification of the Constitution), and have not been President for at least seven of the preceding fifteen years are eligible to serve as President of the Republic.[32]

Sections 3 and 6 of Article IV makes the President Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, as well as set out his responsibilities under constitutional law. These responsibilities are:

  • Serving as "chief diplomat"[33] and directing the country's foreign policy;
  • Serving as chairperson of any national defense councils, security councils, or diplomatic corps;
  • Per their authority as chief diplomat, making treaties for the "Good of the State";[34]
  • Present national "awards, honors and titles";[35]
  • Issue "decrees and orders with the force of the Law, in pursuance and with accordance to the Powers and Duties vested in him by [the] Constitution, or by statute";[36]
  • Grant pardons for criminal acts and, with the support of two-thirds of the Senate (or the Chamber of Delegates once the Senate comes out of abeyance), grant clemency for treason;
  • "Form and direct the Administration of his Office";[37]
  • Approve of legislation passed and enrolled by the National Assembly,[38][39] and request that it be promulgated by the Chief Secretary[40]

Section 4 also enables the President to nominate and appoint ambassadors, generals and admirals with the advice and consent of the Chamber of Delegates,[41] while Section 5 makes the President custodian of the Seal of the State, the authority of which enables them to grant commissions to said ambassadors, generals and admirals, as well as any other "Officers of the Government".[42]

Further, the Constitution makes the President Chairman of the Council of State of Silofais, a government body composed of the President, the Chief Secretary as Vice-Chair, and the heads of the executive departments created by statute, as well as the ambassadorial corps and the highest-ranking officers of the armed forces. The Constitution sets out the Council's responsibilities as follows:

The Council shall advise and deliberate on the general matters of the State; coordinate among themselves the execution of the domestic and foreign policies, and take care that Treaties be executed faithfully; and, from time to time, transmit to the National Assembly information on the state of the State, and of the Government, which shall be delivered by the President.

— Silofaisan Constitution, Chapter II, Article IV, §7[43]

The President is also granted by law the power to effectuate a "special investigation"[44] into any public official, excluding a member of the judicial branch or a member or officer of the National Assembly. This does not affect the power of other bodies to effectuate their own investigations into public conduct nor affect the "normal enforcement of the Law",[45] but the findings of a presidential investigation may be used to bring charges in a court of law or effect impeachment of a public official.

The succession to the presidency is also established - if the President resigns, is removed from office or dies before the natural expiration of his tenure, the Council of State, within two days of the President's leaving office, transmits notice of such to the Speaker of the Chamber of Delegates, the Marshal of the Senate[46] and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. At this moment, the Speaker takes on the position of Acting President,[47] and serves thereafter until a replacement for the President is found by special election.[48] The President can also be similarly and temporarily removed from office if either the President themselves or the Council of State and the Chief Secretary is incapacitated, the Speaker of the Chamber of Delegates serves as Acting President until the President declares themselves either fit for office again or not having been unfit for office in the first instance. If, however, the Chief Secretary and the Council of State maintain their position that the President is incapacitated within four days, the Supreme Court will try the matter and declare one way or the other whether the President is truly incapacitated or not.

Former Presidents in good standing are able to take part in the proceedings of the Senate and involve themselves in Senate debates, but are not entitled to a vote.[49]

The President has the authority to command either or both of the two chambers of the National Assembly to convene at their decree to discuss certain matters they wish for the legislature to discuss.[50] The legislature can only discuss the matters the President commands and, once discussion is complete, the legislature must adjourn.

The Legislature

The seal of the National Assembly

The Constitution also covers the powers and duties of the National Assembly, the national legislature of the Republic. The legislature is the leader of "domestic policy",[51] and has the power to legislate in this regard. Further, only members of the legislature and the Chief Secretary may submit legislation.

Additionally, the legislature's support is required to approve treaties made by the President; two-thirds of the Senate[52] must approve of all treaties the President submits in order for them to be ratified.

The Constitution sets out the terms of office for members of the two chambers; the Chamber of Delegates is re-elected as a whole every three years without staggering, while Senators are divided into three classes as evenly as possible and the classes are re-elected in order, with a two-year gap between each re-election - as a result, each class will be re-elected once every six years. Each Delegate and each Senator is responsible to the constituents of their particular District, and must be legal voters and residents of the District from which they come, and if this situation changes during their term, their seat is forfeit.[53] Additionally, Senators must already have been resident in the Republic for a total of five years.

The Constitution also deals with the election of a Speaker for the Chamber of Delegates[54] and a Speaker pro tempore who presides over the Chamber in their absence (and, additionally, who serves as Acting Speaker in the event that the Speaker becomes Acting President[55]). It also provides for the election, by the Senate, of a Marshal who chairs meetings of the Senate and a Vice-Marshal who chairs in the Marshal's absence (and serves as Acting Marshal in the event that the Marshal becomes Acting President[56]). As with the office of the President, Delegate and Senatorial terms end on the third day of September at noon in the year they leave office. They are also entitled by law to compensation for their services, but their salaries may not change until a general election of the Chamber of Delegates has taken place. Each chamber is "the judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own members[57]".

Delegates and Senators are, excepting in cases of "treason, felony or breach of the peace[58]", immune from arrest while inside their respective chambers - a Delegate cannot be arrested while within the Chamber of Delegates, therefore, and likewise a Senator cannot be arrested in the Senate. They are also immune while travelling to or from the chamber in question.

Section 6 of the Chapter deals with when the National Assembly first opens for a new session: the same date as the ending of presidential and Delegate/Senatorial terms, the 3rd of September at noon.[59] It also requires that the National Assembly be adjourned sine die[60] on or before the 2nd of September.[61]

The Constitution also sets a quorum required to do business in either chamber as a majority of the entire membership - while less than this can "adjourn from day to day",[62] to pass substantive motions and legislation, a majority of the chamber in question must be present for debate.

Chambers are also allowed, by the Constitution, to set their own rules and by-laws, to punish and (with a two-thirds majority of its membership) expel individual members (but not twice for one offence) and to make joint rules in concert with each other. The same clause requires each chamber to keep a public journal of its proceedings, with portions excepted in cases where secrecy is deemed necessary for the public good. Secrecy may also be used as a justification for keeping committee hearings and sessions of each chamber closed from public viewing; excepting these circumstances, sessions of the legislative chambers must remain open to public scrutiny.

The Executive Branch

Seal of the Chief Secretary

Article VI deals with the powers and authority of the executive branch, headed by the Chief Secretary. The Constitution makes the Chief Secretary the head of government and thereby vests in the position the responsibility to "take care that the domestic policy be realized and the law be executed faithfully".[63] Appointed by the President,[64] they serve as long as they continue to command the confidence of the Chamber of Delegates, who can constitutionally pass a motion of no confidence in them and remove both them and their cabinet from office.

Notes and references

  1. The Government, Silofais.org, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  2. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter I, Article I, §2, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  3. Ibid, Chapter 2
  4. Ibid, Chapter 2, Article VIII
  5. Ibid, Chapter 3, Article XI, §1
  6. Ibid, Chapter 4
  7. Ibid, Chapter 4, Article XV
  8. Ibid, Chapter 4, Article XVI
  9. Ibid, Chapter 5, Article XVIII, §1
  10. Ibid, Chapter 5, Article XVIII, §3
  11. Ibid, Chapter 5, Article XVIII, §4
  12. Ibid, Chapter 5, Article XVIII, §5
  13. "four-year project", Silōfais Constitution, forum.micronations.wiki, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  14. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter 8, Article XXIX, §5, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  15. If thirty citizens are had, the first election to the Senate will take place at the same time as the election to the Chamber of Delegates in 2020.
  16. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter I, Article I, §1, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  17. Ibid, Chapter I, Article I, §2
  18. A similar provision to the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution.
  19. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter I, Article I, §3, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  20. Ibid, Chapter I, Article II, §1
  21. Ibid, Chapter I, Article II, §2
  22. Ibid, Chapter I, Article II, §4
  23. Ibid, Chapter I, Article III
  24. Article I of this Chapter defines "the People" as "Citizens of the State" for whom "Government is maintained responsibly".
  25. Citizenship Definition Act of 2017, Silofais.org, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  26. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter I, Article III, §3, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  27. This clause marks a similarity to the Bill of Rights framed by James Madison and amended to the United States Constitution, which insisted that "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people".
  28. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter II, Article IV, §2, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  29. Ibid, Chapter II, Article IV, §1
  30. Ibid, Chapter II, Article IV, §2
  31. So far, no statute has set out a presidential salary.
  32. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter II, Article IV, §2, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  33. Ibid, Chapter II, Article IV, §3
  34. Ibid.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Ibid, Chapter II, Article IV, §6
  38. If the President does not approve of the legislation, he can return it to its chamber of origin with his objections attached and - if the National Assembly cannot get a two-thirds majority in both chambers to pass the bill again - the bill dies.
  39. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter II, Article V, §11, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  40. Bills signed by the President become law upon the Chief Secretary's promulgation. The term "request" in this context does not give the Chief Secretary the right to refuse; all laws the President signs or which are passed over his veto must be promulgated.
  41. Chapter II, Article IV, §4. Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  42. Ibid, Chapter II, Article IV, §5
  43. Ibid, Chapter II, Article IV, §7
  44. Ibid, Chapter II, Article IV, §9
  45. Ibid.
  46. A position currently not filled with the Senate in abeyance; therefore, in the event of a presidential removal, the Marshal is not consulted.
  47. If the Speaker is not qualified under the Constitution to serve as President, then the Marshal of the Senate will take the position of Acting President - if not them, then the succession thereafter is governed by statute. No such statute has been created as yet.
  48. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter II, Article IV, §9, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  49. Ibid, Chapter II, Article V, §4
  50. Ibid, Chapter II, Article V, §9
  51. Ibid, Chapter II, Article V, §1
  52. Or two-thirds of the Chamber of Delegates, while the Senate is in abeyance.
  53. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter II, Article V, §3, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  54. Ibid.
  55. Ibid.
  56. Ibid, Chapter II, Article V, §4
  57. Ibid, Chapter II, Article V, §6
  58. Ibid, Chapter II, Article V, §5
  59. Ibid, Chapter II, Article V, §6
  60. An adjournment without setting a date for reconvening - or in other words, adjourning for an indefinite period of time. In this case, this usually refers to the National Assembly being adjourned until the next session of the National Assembly commences.
  61. Constitution of the Republic of Silofais, Chapter II, Article V, §6, Keatings, A. (accessed 6th September, 2017)
  62. Ibid.
  63. Ibid, Chapter II, Article VI, §1
  64. Ibid, Chapter II, Article VI, §2