Solemn League and Covenant
The Solemn League and Covenant of North America is both the formal name of the North American League and the document which created it. It was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1803. The Founders--including James Monroe, Benedict Arnold, Henry White Eyes, Benjamin Franklin, and others--met in Philadelphia to formally create the document and nation.
The gambit paid off. Even those Americans unsure about the advisability of the Covenant were faced with a fait accompli. The Founders, a group of very well-known individuals, lent their own prestige to the new government. It helped that arguably the single most popular American of the time, the merchant Richard Whittington not only chaired the Convention, but was universally acknowledged as the choice for first General Moderator.
The Solemn League and Covenant is one of the founding documents of the NAL, and serves (along with tradition and precedent) as part of the nation's constitution.
In very general terms, the Covenant established three branches of government with a balancing of powers between them.
- Executive in essence comprised of the General Moderator (GM) and the Cabinet. The Cabinet is chosen by the GM exclusively from Parliament and with Parliament's approval. The GM--elected for ten-year terms by Parliament as a whole--is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and nominates national magistrates. The Cabinet nominates ambassadorial posts. The GM has the line item veto, which can be overridden by a majority of one house and a two-thirds majority of the other. The GM also has the right of pardon. By tradition the Cabinet includes roughly the same number of Senators as MPs. What the GM cannot do is actually propose bills directly nor declare war, raise taxes, establish government departments, convene judicial courts nor authorize a budget. Those remain the purvue of the legislative.
- Legislative which is styled the Great Convention of the North American League, though commonly known as Parliament. Parliament consists of a Senate and a House of Delegates. Senators are three per province, the method of selection being the domain of that provincial government (most hold direct elections). Their terms are for six years and half must face re-selection every three years. Delegates are elected based on populations of individual provinces for terms of either five years or the next general election, whichever comes first (either the GM or Cabinet may call a general election, although in practice this rarely happens). As of 1964, the number of Delegates became fixed at 333. All bills must originate in the Delegates, but to become law must be approved by both houses. The Senate approves judicial and ambassadorial nominations. MPs address one another as Brother or Sister Conventioneer -- while Native MPs are addressed as Elder Brother or Elder Sister. When in session, each House is presided over by a Speaker elected from among the members.
- Judicial consists of the High Court comprised of nine Justiciars with a rotating Chair. There are various other National Courts of Appeals and Tribunals. The Cabinet nominates Justicars while the General Moderator nominates all other National magistrates, pending approval by the Senate. Among its other tasks, the High Court may be petitioned to examine proposed legislation prior to its final reading in Parliament, determining whether said legislation adheres to the Covenant.
NAL Political Parties are many and varied, but the two most important as of 2005 are the Whigs and Progressive Conservatives.
The Head of State
The head of state of the NAL is determined by provincial tradition and enshrined in each province's Constitution. This might at first seem unusual, but keep in mind that the NAL is composed of former colonies of several European powers. Technically, there are four monarchs of the NAL: Queen Diana (of Scotland and England), Pedr V of Kemr, the Ouka of the Cherokee and Queen Margarethe of the Scandinavian Realm.
In the Solemn League and Covenant (the document), there is a famous "saving clause" where, after declaring that the "supposed Colonies are, and ought of right ought to be, Free and mutually Dependent States", it continues "saving always the Faith and Allegiance owed to our Sovereign". The use of the singular "Sovereign" represents a concession to the "Fifth Monarchy Men", who insisted that they recognized no sovereign but God. (The first four monarchies were Assyria, Babylonia, Greece, and Rome, and the fifth was to be the direct reign of God himself, which they expected any time now.) So, in a technical sense, each of the three European monarchs is "head of state of the North American League via their Majesties crown relationship with their former colonies" -- this means that, legally, a resident of New Sweden finds himself in the position of being a subject of the Crown of the Scandinavian Realm while his neighbour in Ter Mair is a subject of the Crown of Kemr.
Consequently, the NAL courts have always held that sovereign honors may be paid to any of the English, Scottish, Kemrese, or Scandinavian monarchs, depending on the circumstances. Technically, this makes the NAL a sort of condominium, while keeping it independent in fact. The Hodenoshoni (Iroquois, on behalf of all native groups in the NAL) thought the issue was silly, but went along as a means of pleasing the Newcommers. Native provinces do not owe allegience to any foreign monarch, and thus the head of state was the General Moderator. Provinces admitted after the original SLC was ratified and given royal assent are free to choose whether they will have one of the three monarchs for head of state or the General Moderator like the Native provinces. Both Scandinavian provinces chose the Scandinavian monarch.
In order to balance the powers of the General Moderator, and in the interests of the motherlands, the various monarchs send a viceroy to the College of Viceroys who acts in the interests of the homeland. The College selects one member to act as speaker on behalf of all the NAL's heads of state, this one being known as the First Viceroy--that is, the head of the Viceregal College. The First Viceroy therefore is in effect the NAL's head of state. At the start of the XXth century, a Native Viceroy was added to the College.
Initially, the Cabinet of the NAL consisted of five officials:
- Secrectary of State for Foreign Affairs (i.e. Foreign Secretary)
- Secretary of State for Internal Affairs (i.e. Secretary of State)
- Minister of War
- Lord Treasurer of the League (i.e. Treasurer)
- Attorney General (sometimes called Minister of Justice)
Practically, although the above have remained the senior-most members of the Cabinet, other department heads and officials have in fact been considered members. This is largely a matter of compromise and negotiation with Parliament especially when (as happens fairly often) the General Moderator is of a different party than the majority.
Cabinet officials for the last half of the XXth century and beyond generally include:
- Minister of Education
- Minister of Industry
- Minister of Health
- Minister of Social Services
- Minister of Acriculture
- Minister of Transportation
The heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation and National Intelligence Office have at various times also been considered de facto members of the Cabinet, despite the lack of a seat in Parliament. On occasion, a Senator or Deputy is made Minister Without Portfolio. Only members of the Cabinet who are also MPs may vote in an action that requires Cabinet approval (such as calling a General Election or nominating Ambassadors).
By tradition, the main Opposition in Parliament has a "Shadow Cabinet" consisting of those Senators and Deputies who might serve if the government changes hands and/or a coalition is installed.
Bill of Rights
Included in the Covenant from the beginning (and widely regarded as a major aid in its adoption) was a Bill of Rights, adapted from similar documents in the legal systems of England, Scotland and Kemr. The premise was that citizens of the Solemn League and Covenant possessed certain immutable civil and political rights. These included:
- freedom from royal interference with the law (the Sovereign was forbidden to establish his own courts or to act as a judge himself).
- freedom from taxation by royal prerogative, without agreement by a Legislature representing those taxed.
- freedom to petition the Monarch or Legislature.
- freedom from a peace-time standing army, without agreement by the Legislature.
- freedom to have arms for defence, as allowed by law.
- freedom to elect members of the Legislature without interference from the Monarch.
- the freedom of speech in the Legislature, in that proceedings in the Legislature were not to be questioned in the courts or in any body outside the Legislature itself (the basis of modern parliamentary privilege).
- the freedom of speech for citizens in general including members of the press.
- freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, and excessive bail.
- freedom from fines and forfeitures without trial by jury.
- freedom of religious conscience and practice, including any attempt to establish an official religion or mandate religious qualifications for public office.
- freedom of trade, including freedom from seizure of property without due process of law.