I love political science, and so for fun I decided to draft a modified version of the US Constitution to better reflect the new issues of a modern era. This project was not intended to be disrespectful to the current Constitution, it was meant as a tribute following in the same patriotic spirit.
The name comes from Gaius Gracchus, one of Ancient Rome’s greatest progressive reformers along with his brother, Tiberius. The header image for these posts comes from my love of rabbits. I thought a white rabbit would be an interesting symbol for a grassroots movement as a nod to Alice in Wonderland (“follow the white rabbit”), also rabbits eat grass (so grassroots), and are individually weak yet good at multiplying into something greater.
This is merely a first draft, and I’d love to get feedback for how to improve on it if anyone has any suggestions they’d like to share.
Article III: The Legislative Branch of Government
Legislative power on the Federal level shall be delegated from the People to a tricameral Congress.
THE FIRST OF THESE HOUSES SHALL BE THE NATIONAL CURIATE: The Curiate shall be comprised of 700 legislators known as “Septigents” (Latin for “Seven hundred men.”) The number of Septigents shall be updated every ten years to maintain its proportion to the current cube root of the total US population. This House will represent the populace according to their ideological beliefs and Party affiliation, with the guiding philosophy of delegative demarchy through ideological association. This chamber is chaired by the Consul (see Article IV.) The prefix “national” denotes the attribute of this chamber as embodying the diverse beliefs and character of the American nation as a whole.
- Money bills must originate in the Curiate, similar to the old US House of Representatives. They have the power to levy taxes, regulate commerce and approve budgets for different programs, agencies and departments. Omnibus spending bills are not allowed; each budget must be approved separately. There is no longer any debt ceiling; the Curiate determines whether to accept or deny every individual transaction involving debt. The federal government does not shutdown if a budget is not approved, it continues according to the provisions of the previous budget.
- Impeachment: The Curiate also decides via a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote to impeach the President, Consul or any individual members of the Directorate (see Article IV) and any Federal Judges. Once impeached, the accused is judged by the High Court of Integrity (see Article V). If they are found guilty of wrongdoing or unconstitutional behavior, they are removed from office, but if found not guilty, they’re reinstated for the remainder of their term.
- The Curiate may pass a comprehensive motion of no confidence against the Consul and Directorate with a 2/3 majority vote, and a replacement Consul agreed upon. These motions may only be proposed every six months to prevent abuse. This compels the President to either dismiss the entire Directorate, or address the American people in a speech to explain why not. If, in the next six month period, the Curiate passes another motion of no confidence, the President must dismiss the Directorate and accept the new Consul.
- Elections: The Curiate are elected in a nationwide open-party list, proportional representation election using reweighted range voting and the Hare quota (which is kinder to small parties). This determines the proportion each party occupies in the assembly. The individual candidates are determined by open-list approval voting (where declared candidates with the most approval votes are given priority seating within their party’s allocated seats). The threshold for a party obtaining seats in the assembly is 1%.
- Expulsion: Through a 2/3 vote, the Curiate may vote to expel one of its own members if sufficient proof of illegal and/or unconstitutional behavior is presented. This also serves as an impeachment and the expelled Septigent is sent to the High Court of Integrity to determine guilt. If the court finds them not guilty, they will not be convicted but the court does not have the authority to reinstate them to the Curiate itself.
- To serve as a Septigent, one must be a Citizen with a permanent residency for at least the previous 5 years and be at least 25 years of age.
- Septigents serve 4 year terms and may only serve 3 consecutive terms before retiring from the position for a period of at least 10 years. They are forbidden from accepting lobbyist positions for 15 years after their service is over.
THE SECOND HOUSE SHALL BE THE FEDERAL SENATE: The Senate shall be comprised of 157 Senators, with 3 from each State, 2 from the District of Columbia and 1 from each territory (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Mariana Islands). This House will represent the populace according to the unique needs of their region and State, with a guiding philosophy of representative democracy by geographical location. They are chaired by the Praetor, a position which rotates among the most senior delegate from every state on a monthly basis, by order of their respective state’s acceptance into the Union. The prefix “federal” derives from the fact that this chamber gives every smaller unit within the Federal Union itself a distinct voice.
- Foreign Policy: The Senate approves of treaties and executive agreements with foreign countries, via a simple majority decision. The Senate also solely declares war via a 3/5 majority.
- Domestic Policy: The Senate approves of judges, ambassadors and appointments to the Directorate
- Senate may pass a motion of censure with a 3/5 majority vote, indicating a lack of confidence in the Consul, President and/or members of the Directorate. If a Director or Administrator (see Article V) is censured, they may then be dismissed by the President. If the Consul is censured, the President may call for a new Consular election within the Curiate in which the currently presiding Consul may stand for reelection. Tribunes may also be censured which triggers a trial before the High Court of Integrity (see Article VI). If found not guilty of any negligence or wrong-doing they are reinstated for the remainder of their term.
- Election: Senators are elected in three separate statewide contests using Range (aka Score) voting, with the candidate possessing the highest mean score in each election winning. At least the top 5 parties by membership and any independents with at least 5% support in the polls must be included on the ballot, as well as at least 2 write-in spaces. Senators can be recalled at any time by their state legislature if 2/3s of each house in their respective state vote to do so.
- To serve as a Senator, one must be a Citizen with a permanent residency in the State or territory they represent for at least the previous 5 years and be at least 30 years of age.
- Senators serve 6 year terms and may only serve 2 consecutive terms before retiring from the position for a period of no less than 10 years. They are forbidden from accepting lobbyist positions for 15 years after their service is over.
THE THIRD HOUSE SHALL BE THE PEOPLE’S TRIBUNATE: The Tribunate shall be comprised of at least 120 Tribunes. This House will represent the populace according to the unique needs of their occupation or scholarship, with a guiding philosophy of objective technocracy through meritorious advancement. This is to keep legislation grounded in real world experience and scientific research rather than political dogmatism and gamesmanship. They are chaired by the Speaker, who is the runner up candidate in the Presidential election (if they refuse to accept, then it goes down the list until someone does.) The prefix “People’s” comes from the fact that the members of this chamber represent the best that the People of America have to offer in their respective fields.
(This body was partially inspired by the Council of Revision that was proposed during the original Constitutional Convention but narrowly defeated. Except, rather than vetoing legislation, it instead steers prospective laws towards a more productive and neutral direction. I was also inspired by the tenets of technocracy and syndicalism, whereby teams of experts with hands-on knowledge determine the objectively best course of action.)
- Composition: The Tribunate is made up of at least at least twelve Colleges, which in turn are comprised of ten leading experts in various relevant fields (for example: science, psychology, ecology, economy, finance, international relations, labor delegates, computer programmers/engineers, farmers, historians, law scholars, philosophers) to suggest and amend (but not create) legislation according to their practical knowledge they can bring to a topic free of political brinkmanship. The Tribunate can demand that proposed bills have a study conducted first to determine the impact on (among other criteria) the economy, social effects, environment and finance a bill will cause if it were enacted. The Tribunate can also recommend the addition of more Colleges for other occupations or subjects, however this can only be approved by the President on a temporary basis (for the drafting of a relevant piece of legislation), and only by Constitutional amendment on a permanent one.
- Relationship with the President: Before vetoing or signing legislation, the President must consult with any appropriate Colleges of Tribunes to get their opinion on the final bill.
- Relationship to the other Houses of Congress: The Tribunes have final approval of which Congressmen are selected to serve in each committee. This responsibility may be temporarily waived on the condition that a Tribune presides as Chairman of said committee. After a committee has drafted a bill, any Tribunes with applicable knowledge or expertise relevant to its subject matter must then counsel with the committee according to the principles of deliberative democracy.
- To serve as a Tribune, one must be a Citizen with a permanent residency for the previous 2 years and be at least 21 years of age. The lower requirements are due to a preference for objective, practical knowledge on the relevant subjects regardless of where it comes from.
- Central Bank: The College of financial experts in the Tribunate oversee the Central Bank, replacing the Federal Reserve System.
- Relationship to the Judiciary: The College of legal scholars recommends judges for the President to appoint to the Federal Courts.
- Tribunes serve for 12 year terms and may only serve 1 consecutive term before retiring from the position for a period of at least 10 years. They are forbidden from joining or openly affiliating themselves with any political party for the duration of their terms, and from accepting lobbyist positions for life.
- Tribunes are not elected; they are a technocratic institution who achieve their positions through appointment from their corresponding trade union, trade commission, or through a rigorous test related to issues in their field, created by a panel from the most prestigious universities in the country.
- The Tribunate has exclusive rights to distribute temporary land ownership and collect Land Value Tax. They determine this by weighing economic and ecological impact. This is done in close coordination with the local governments who make requests. They can also recommend States pass quotas on how much land private businesses can own.
- The Tribunate designates environmentally necessary land to be protected or only used selectively. The Tribunate can impose recommended quotas on trash/pollution and wildlife preservation.