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An Introduction to the Government of the Kingdom of Cascadia

"There is a kind of little man who will tell you that he can't hit a nail straight with a hammer, but who loves to spread a big country like the United States out before him on top of a table, pull up a chair and sit down to rearrange the whole thing to suit his heart's desire. Through the providence of God this kind of fellow, in a country of practical politicians, does not ordinarily get into a spot where he can play this game."
— John T. Flynn, The Roosevelt Myth, 1948.

The Kingdom of Cascadia is a voluntary association of political communities ("Commonwealths"), in which the purpose of government is to protect the individual from internal and external aggression. It has three different political levels:

The Kingdom

This is the term used in Cascadia to describe what Canadians or Americans would call "the federal government." The Kingdom's powers, strictly limited by the Constitution, are focused primarily on coordinating national defense, maintaining international relations, facilitating inter-Commonwealth cooperation, and providing a symbolic focus for national unity. All powers not explicitly delegated to the Kingdom by the Constitution are reserved to the people or to the Commonwealths.

The Commonwealths

The Commonwealths, formerly American states, a Canadian province, and a Canadian territory, are the primary political agents within the Kingdom. The Kingdom was established by the Commonwealths, and is a voluntary association of the Commonwealths. Therefore, each Commonwealth retains its essential sovereignty, and can withdraw from the Kingdom and resume its full independence whenever it chooses.

The Constitution states that "The Kingdom of Cascadia shall guarantee to each Commonwealth in this confederation ... a government that respects the political, property, and economic rights detailed in this Constitution [and] shall protect each Commonwealth against invasion." Beyond that, however, the Commonwealths can structure their internal governments however they choose. By and large, the former-Canadian Commonwealths have retained parliamentary-style governments, while the ex-American ones have separate legislatures and executives.

Local Governments

Each Commonwealth has various internal divisions — counties, cities, districts, ridings, etc. — with varying degrees of responsibility and autonomy.

[A real-world note: As I mention on the Cascadian Constitution page, my intention is ultimately to phase out the Commonwealths as sovereign entities and replace them with something much like Roderick Long's "virtual cantons" plan. Under this arrangement, individuals would choose a "virtual canton" (essentially a private association with no territorial base) to which to belong, and then be subject to that canton's laws, regulations, and so on. There would therefore be a degree of government, but separate from any kind of territorial monopoly -- especially since all land would be privately owned. The Kingdom would therefore be a unitary state in the sense of having no internal physical political divisions, and "government" would be based on voluntary associations, because an individual could change her cantonal "citizenship" whenever she felt like it. Because this change would require a wholesale re-writing of the Constitution, I've never quite gotten around to it.]

Divisions of Government at the Kingdom Level

The Kingdom of Cascadia is a constitutional monarchy with executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

The Executive

Executive power in the Kingdom inheres in the Sovereign. Since the adoption of the Fourth Amendment in 2001, the Queen has been advised by a Confederation Council, consisting of five members whom she nominates subject to confirmation by the House of Delegates. Prior to that time, she was advised by a fairly traditional Prime Ministerial-and-Cabinet structure.

The executive functions of Kingdom government are divided among the Council's five members, who are charged under the Constitution with "work[ing] toward the policy goals of the Sovereign and Parliament ... ensur[ing] that the legitimate functions of the Kingdom government be carried out efficiently, expediently, and lawfully, and ... assist[ing] the Sovereign in fulfilling his constitutional duties as they relate to the Kingdom government."

The use of the phrase "policy goals of the Sovereign" is deliberate. Unlike most other monarchies in the world today, the Cascadian king or queen has a key -- indeed, the key -- role in policy creation and execution. Within the fairly limited range of responsibilities borne by the Sovereign and the Kingdom government, Cascadia might be said to be an executive monarchy.

The Legislative

The legislative power of the Kingdom is held by Parliament, which consists of the Sovereign and the House of Delegates. The latter is a 250-member body that meets in the Legislative Buildings in Victoria, British Columbia, formerly home of the B.C. Legislature. Representation is apportioned to the Commonwealths by population, with each Commonwealth retaining the power to determine how its representatives are selected. Parliaments sit for a maximum term of five years, and may be dissolved sooner by the Sovereign.

All bills passed by the House must be signed by the Sovereign to become law. The Sovereign may veto all or part of any proposed legislation. If she vetoes an individual line-item, it must be passed by two-thirds of the House in order to be presented to her again. If she vetoes a bill or provision twice, Parliament may override her veto by passing the bill a third time by a three-fifths vote.

The Judiciary

The Kingdom's judicial structure is relatively similar to the federal judiciary of the United States, with two key differences:

The first is that each Commonwealth has a seat on the Royal Court of Appeals (the Kingdom's highest court), the jurist occupying that seat being nominated and confirmed by the Commonwealth's own legislature, not by Parliament. The Sovereign nominates the Chief Justice, who must be confirmed by the House of Delegates. If the total number of Justices would then be an even number, the Sovereign is empowered to appoint one additional Justice (again subject to confirmation by the House) so the Court will not be deadlocked by fifty-fifty splits. Justices can serve a maximum of 24 years on the Royal Court of Appeals, or until they reach age 70.

The second is that any ruling by the Royal Court of Appeals may be overturned by a two-thirds vote of the House, with the consent of the Sovereign.

Notable Features of Cascadian Government

The Kingdom government may not:

  • Assent to any treaty that would supercede or conflict with the Constitution or any of its provisions.
  • Spend any public funds to subsidize art, broadcasting, or election campaigns.
  • Require disclosure of an individual's personal economic activity, or review or inspect private financial, medical, or legal records without that person's consent.
  • Require registration or other licensing of firearms.
  • Tax incomes, capital gains, inheritances, property, or gifts.
  • "...engage in any business, professional, commercial, financial or banking, or industrial enterprise."
  • Maintain any paramilitary or armed police forces, except for security personnel necessary for the protection of Kingdom property.
  • Draft anyone for compulsory national service.

The Kingdom government must:

  • Regard protection of property rights "a priority."
  • "Sunset" every law passed by Parliament after two, five, or seven years.
  • Adopt a balanced budget every biennium.
  • Receive permission from a Commonwealth's legislature before purchasing property in that Commonwealth.

The Commonwealths:

  • May secede from the Kingdom at any time, for any reason, without requiring the permission of the Kingdom government or of any other Commonwealth. The Kingdom is explicitly prohibited from using military force to prevent a Commonwealth from seceding.