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A commissioned senator (CS) is an individual who is appointed to serve in the Senate of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Sierra. The Senate is the upper house consisting of 155 members. Non-commissioned senators are generally referred to as regular senators. Approximately two-fifths or 65 seats are appointed while the rest of the seats in the Senate are democratically elected by constituencies from the seats' respective PSAs. Of the 65 commissioned senators, 19 are appointed by the Prime Minister as at-large commissioned senators (also referred to as "leveraged senators"), while the other 37 are selected from one of each of the 37 PSAs in the Kingdom of Sierra. Under the Constitution, the prime minister is also counted as a senator as the President of the Senate. Most of the 65 commissioned senators selected by the PSAs are appointed by the governor of their respective PSA although a few select their commissioned senator through the provincial legislature. In the provinces of San Joaquin and Santa Clara, the commissioned senator is elected directly by the people in the same fashion as the other two regular senators.
History[edit | edit source]
Commissioned senators were introduced as an amendment to Article III of the Constitution of Sierra which increased the allotment of senators for each province from 2 to 3 senators. The third senator was to be appointed by the province as a means to increase the power of the provinces and harmonize the balance between the federal government, provincial governments, and the electorates. The 13 at-large seats were also introduced as a mechanism to reduce the chances of a divided government between the two houses of Parliament. Since the Prime Minister, the head of government, is generally a member elected by the House of Commons who also possesses ex officio membership in the Senate (if he or she is not already a senator), the Prime Minister must work to prevent gridlocks and double dissolutions.
Appointment[edit | edit source]
The majority of commissioned senators receive their seat by appointment. With the exception of at-large commissioned senators, each commissioned senator is appointed based on the laws of their respective PSA. Most PSAs have designated their head of government (i.e. the governor) as the responsible appointer. As with most executive governments in Sierra, executive appointments require approval by the provincial, state, or areal legislature. In a minority of PSAs, the method is reversed wherein the legislature is responsible for nominating a commissioned senator and then receiving approval by the governor. In the provinces of San Joaquin and Santa Clara, the commissioned senator is elected in popular, direct elections by the people in the same manner as regular senators. Traditionally, commissioned senators are appointed only when there is a vacancy or after a provincially-set term limit has been reached. While regular senators are restricted with term lengths and limits, commissioned senators are bound only to the discretion of their appointing authority. Through convention however, most PSAs have favored appointing a new commissioned senator (or formally "re-appointing" a commissioned senator) every 6 years–the same length as one full-term for regular senators, usually 2 years after a regular senator has been elected or reelected.
At-large commissioned senators are similarly bound to their appointee (who in this case, is the Prime Minister) as most commissioned senators. The Prime Minister may appoint any individual to be an at-large commissioned senator so long as the individual satisfies the constitutional qualifications of a senator. Such commissioned senators are one of the few high-ranking government positions the Prime Minister may fill without the advice or consent of the Senate. This power has been enshrined as an executive privilege constitutionally granted to the Prime Minister in their capacity as the head executive and the President of the Senate.
All commissioned senators are immune to expulsion or censure by the Senate unless they have been convicted of an impeachable offense. In all other cases, disciplinary actions may only be granted or executed by the commissioned senator's appointing authority.
Eligibility and qualifications[edit | edit source]
The Constitution states that in order to hold a seat in the Senate (both commissioned and regular seats), an individual must be:
- At least 18 years of age by the time of election
- A K.S. citizen by birth or naturalization
- A K.S. resident who has resided in the Kingdom for at least 9 consecutive years or at least 13 years of which 7 of those years were consecutive
- A person who has been free of conviction and punishment for a felony for at least 20 years
- A person who has been free of conviction and punishment for a serious criminal offense to the State or its PSAs for at least 15 years
- A person who has been free of conviction and punishment for a criminal offense to the State or its PSAs for at least 10 years
- A person who has been free of conviction and punishment for a misdemeanor or minor offense (not including minor traffic violations or petty theft whose damages amount to less than $100) for at least 5 years
As commissioned senators are beholden to their appointee and their constituency, the laws of the PSA they represent apply and call for additional qualifications. Federal law permits PSAs to place additional or more restrictive requirements found in the Constitution if they are issued "reasonably, conductively, and non-frivolously" towards the interests of the PSA and the people. The laws may not lessen or remove any of the requirements listed in the Constitution and may not violate the Constitution, such as the introduction of a religious test (which would violate the Establishment Clause) or race-based discriminatory exclusion (which would violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses), or impose frivolous, unusual requirements, such as permitting only persons named John. The majority of PSAs do not have laws which create additional barriers to the office. Of the PSAs which do, they have increased the number of years required for residency and clean criminal records.
At-large commissioned senators have no additional barriers beyond the basic constitutional requirements as their constituency is the entire Kingdom and are only subject to the Prime Minister, a federal position.
Title[edit | edit source]
The majority of commissioned senators do not have legal titles unless they themselves are considered a peer in Sierra's peerage system. CSs who serve on the Privy Council or hold senior leadership positions in the House are entitled to The Right Honorable (The Rt. Hon.) for the former and The Honorable (The Hon.) for the latter. The abbreviation, CS is conventionally affixed before or after an officeholder's name, despite having no legal establishment.
Responsibilities, duties, and terms[edit | edit source]
The K.S. Constitution does not distinguish any difference in responsibility or privilege between commissioned senators and regular senators. Both classes of senators are considered equal peers and entitled to one vote on the floor for every issue. The role of the commissioned senator has largely been dictated by convention and tradition, alongside standardized internal rules of the Senate. Since commissioned senators are generally appointed rather than elected, they have functioned more as party bureaucrats whose purpose is to keep their elected peers in check. Commissioned senators' terms vary by date and length, as well as certainty and term limits. The term lengths of commissioned senators are entirely dependent on the appointing power or jurisdiction responsible for sending them to the Senate, which retain the sole discretion to regulate and modify any laws related to such positions. The only exception are at-large commissioned senators whose terms are bound to the Prime Minister's standing within the House of Commons, and therefore are indirectly affected by the government's confidence and supply there. This exception was made by the Appointed Officials Alignment Act of 1979 to ensure that at-large commissioned senators could only serve as long as the Prime Minister and be dismissed automatically upon the arrival of a new prime minister.
At-large commissioned senators[edit | edit source]
There are 13 at-large commissioned senators (not including the Prime Minister who technically functions as one) in the Senate. They are distinguished from their fellow commissioned and regular senator peers by their method of appointment and their term lengths. At-large commissioned senators have also been referred to as "leveraged senators", connoting the nature of the seats in connection to the Prime Minister, as the latter's political leverage in the Senate. While other commissioned senators either serve at their respective appointees' pleasure (i.e. the governor or the provincial legislature) or at a fixed term, at-large commissioned senators serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. Commissioned senators are also one of the few top-ranking government officials that the Prime Minister may appoint without the advice and consent of the Senate itself. Consequently, if the prime minister loses the confidence and supply in the House or is otherwise removed from office, the at-large commissioned senators also lose their seat unless the succeeding prime minister preserves their seats.
In 1974, following the impeachment of Prime Minister Kovrov Stoyanovich, Parliament passed the Fair Impeachment Proceedings Act, which barred at-large commissioned senators from being counted in the event the Senate must hear impeachment trials directly related to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, or other ministers in the Cabinet. This was done in response to the 13 at-large commissioned senators who voted against the conviction and removal of office for Stoyanovich, leading to many criticizing their involvement and vote as a conflict of interest. The law mandated that at-large commissioned senators recuse themselves from such proceedings and are not counted in the total number of senators when calculating the necessary two-thirds majority to convict and remove an official. The law was challenged in 1981 as unconstitutional but the law was upheld by the Supreme Court of Sierra in the Royalist Party v. Parliament case.