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Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
On Promptness and the Time at which RA Membership Begins and Ends
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice SillyString, joined by Justices Kiwi and Blue Wolf II

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Mall.

The Court took into consideration the briefs filed by PaulWallLibertarian42, Hileville, flemingovia, and Great Bights Mum, as well as two statements from Zyvetskistaahn and one from Crushing Our Enemies in response to Court questioning.

The Court took into consideration portions of Chapter 6.1, Section 6 of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:

4. An application for Regional Assembly membership ceases to be valid if at any time the applicant's declared nation in The North Pacific nation is not located in The North Pacific.
5. Forum administration will have 14 days to evaluate Regional Assembly applicants and verify that they are not using a proxy or evading a judicially-imposed penalty.The Vice Delegate will have 3 days to perform a security assessment of the applicant. All security assessments will be performed in consultation with the Security Council, and in accordance with all laws of The North Pacific.
6. The Speaker will reject applicants who fail an evaluation by either forum administration or the Vice Delegate.
7. If an applicant is rejected for failing an evaluation by the Vice Delegate, the Regional Assembly will immediately hold a majority vote on whether to uphold the rejection.
8. The Regional Assembly may overturn a previous decision to uphold the rejection of an applicant by majority vote.
9. The Speaker will accept all other applicants with valid applications.
10. The Speaker will process applications within 14 days. If an applicant has not been accepted or rejected within that time, they will be automatically accepted to the Regional Assembly.
11. Regional Assembly members may not vote in any vote which began before they were last admitted.
12. The Speaker will maintain a publicly viewable roster of Regional Assembly members.
13. The Speaker will promptly remove any Regional Assembly members whose removal is ordered by the Court, or whose nation in The North Pacific leaves or ceases to exist.
14. The Speaker's office will promptly remove any Regional Assembly members who fail to log in to the North Pacific forum for over 30 consecutive days; or who have not voted for 20 consecutive days and have missed four consecutive Regional Assembly votes to enact, amend or repeal laws, as determined by the time they closed.
15. Regional Assembly members that have submitted a notice of absence, in accordance with any regulations set by the Speaker, shall be exempt from the provisions of the above clause for the stated duration of their absence.

The Court opines the following:

The Court has two questions under its consideration. The first, dealing with the nature of RA membership, asks when that membership is lost - is it at the exact moment a violation occurs, or is it once that violation is noticed by the Speaker's Office?

When considering this question, the Court weighed four factors. The first is the language of the section in question, which states:
13. The Speaker will promptly remove any Regional Assembly members whose removal is ordered by the Court, or whose nation in The North Pacific leaves or ceases to exist.
14. The Speaker's office will promptly remove any Regional Assembly members who fail to log in to the North Pacific forum for over 30 consecutive days; or who have not voted for 20 consecutive days and have missed four consecutive Regional Assembly votes to enact, amend or repeal laws, as determined by the time they closed.
The wording of these clauses does not definitively answer the question, but it does lean toward one side. They are blunt, assigning direct responsibility for their duties to the Speaker, and declaring that the Speaker's actions are a necessary component - and not an afterthought - of ensuring the law is followed. Because these clauses are phrased as they are, focusing on the Speaker's duties rather than simply declaring that Regional Assembly membership is lost under certain criteria, the Court finds tentative support for the latter position.

As admission and removal are two sides of the same coin, the Court also notes the wording of the RA admission clauses:
6. The Speaker will reject applicants who fail an evaluation by either forum administration or the Vice Delegate.
7. If an applicant is rejected for failing an evaluation by the Vice Delegate, the Regional Assembly will immediately hold a majority vote on whether to uphold the rejection.
8. The Regional Assembly may overturn a previous decision to uphold the rejection of an applicant by majority vote.
9. The Speaker will accept all other applicants with valid applications.
10. The Speaker will process applications within 14 days. If an applicant has not been accepted or rejected within that time, they will be automatically accepted to the Regional Assembly.
Despite the fact that the Speaker has very strict limits on when an applicant is to be denied and when they are to be accepted, under these clauses the Speaker still possesses the final duty of action. An applicant is not accepted after passing the security checks, nor rejected after failing them, until the Speaker declares that such is so. Despite the Speaker's lack of discretion in the decision, their statements on the matter are explicitly performative - in contrast with the passive change of status allowed for by 6.1.10.

Second, the Court took into consideration the existing practice of the Speaker's Office. According to the testimony of the previous two Speakers, Zyvetskistaahn and Crushing Our Enemies, as well as a former Deputy Speaker, PaulWallLibertarian42, it has been the practice of the Speaker's office for over a year and a half to follow the latter interpretation. That the Speaker's Office has, for such a significant period of time, held a consistent position on the matter lends weight to the Court's tentative reading of the Legal Code. We are loathe to interfere with that practice without considerable legal justification.

Third, the Court considered each interpretation's potential for abuse, should any individual with the inclination to do so ever take office as Speaker. As a number of briefs mentioned, there is risk in declaring that membership depends on the Speaker's Office noticing a violation. It is possible for a Speaker to use such an interpretation to immediately remove members they dislike, while quietly alerting members they prefer and allowing them to rectify the problem.

However, the opposite interpretation is similarly open for abuse. A Speaker could pretend not to notice a violation, just to keep someone in the RA. They could get away with this easily in many cases, particularly with less prominent members, whose national events are unlikely to attract public notice. This is true even if the Speaker genuinely does not notice a violation - TNPers are far more likely to notice a well-known nation CTE and resurrect than a relatively unknown, new RA member. Moreover, this interpretation opens up a much more serious possibility for abuse, and it is this: The Speaker could use prior noncompliance as a weapon to disrupt a political opponent - for example, by unveiling the fact that a candidate in an election temporarily was out of compliance with the requirements months prior, thus invalidating their candidacy without sufficient time for them to rejoin and be eligible again. Or, alternatively, the Speaker could use this as a blackmail tool, threatening to remove someone's membership at a critical juncture based on prior noncompliance unless they act a certain way.

Both of these options are open to some abuse, but the largest risk of it comes from allowing the Speaker to impose penalties on RA members for noncompliance despite them being in compliance at the time of the punishment. This gives the Speaker the inappropriate ability to determine the setting and circumstances of a member's removal from the Regional Assembly. The Bill of Rights prohibits ex post facto laws; it is in this same spirit that the removal of Regional Assembly members who are in compliance with all membership requirements is and ought to be illegal.

Finally, the Court considered what is and is not possible for the Speaker's Office, taking into account the law and the tools at their disposal. We note that the wording of 6.1.13 and 6.1.14 is identical with respect to the operative clause, and that therefore the Speaker's obligations under each must be interpreted to be identical - that is, we must rule that membership is lost at the same point under each clause.

The former interpretation runs into trouble here. Although it is possible, using NationStates tools, to determine a nation's existence and movement history, it is not possible to do the same with a member's activity history on this forum. The Speaker's office is enjoined to remove RA members who fail to log in for more than 30 days, and yet, if they do not see this occur and the member in question logs in before they do see it, there is no way for this to be discovered. Indeed, if the nation in question was not themselves aware of exactly how long they had been away, they cannot even be called to task in one's imagination for failing to acknowledge their loss of membership and resign. To rule that their membership was lost, and should be removed, is to issue an unenforceable ruling.

As for the relevant tools, the Court notes that the Speaker's Office owns a script which regularly checks each RA member's most recent activity and the location of its nation. While this script catches violations that exist at the time it is run, it cannot look back in time and see what a nation or member did earlier. This script greatly enhances the functioning of the Office, and is what allows it to carry out its duties under the law. Should the Court rule in favor of the former interpretation, this Script would become useless, and the Speaker's Office would be obligated to manually check the nation and forum account of every RA member - a tedious and time consuming task that is quite likely to go undone.

Drawing on all of the above factors, the Court rules that statements from the Speaker's Office on the state of an individual's membership in the RA are explicitly performative. That is, membership is neither gained nor lost until the Speaker's Office acknowledges that fact, with the sole exception of the two week limit on the waiting period for RA applicants.

Additionally, the Court rules that when RA members are removed from the Regional Assembly for failing to meet at least one of the requirements laid out in 6.1.13 and 6.1.14, they must be failing to meet those requirements at the time of their removal.


Second, the Court considered whether the Speaker met the requirements to act "promptly" to remove members of the RA not in compliance with the requirements.

"Promptly" is an interesting word. It is distinct from "immediately", in that it allows some time to pass between an event and its response, but it is also distinct from any particular stated time period, in that it is unspecific as to how much time is permitted.

Since the law is deliberately unspecific, the Court would grossly overstep itself to provide a specific time period within which the Speaker - or any other government official bound by a "promptly" clause (of which nine are scattered throughout all three governing documents) - must act. Additionally, there is no time period within which a member could not come out of compliance and then back into it again before being noticed - thus, in this case, promptness has no bearing on the overarching legal question.

The Court therefore rules that whether a government official is carrying out their duties "promptly" is a matter for the Regional Assembly to judge. There are any number of options open to RA members who feel that laxness has occurred, from writing a petition to the official in question, to drafting legislation to change those clauses, to outright recall.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on September 7, 2014.
 
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
On Recognizing Outdated Rulings
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Severisen, joined by Justice Kialga and THO Cormac

The Court took into consideration the Request for Review filed here by Silly String.

The Court took into consideration the following:

Bill of Rights:
9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.
Legal Code:
Any person ("the complainant") may submit a criminal complaint to the office of the Attorney General, requesting that a criminal case be brought before the Court.
38. The Attorney General may, at their discretion, manage the prosecution of any criminal case requested.
39. In the event that the Attorney General is a defendant, the defence attorney, or a witness in a criminal case, the Delegate shall appoint an existing deputy Attorney General who is not similarly party to that case. The appointed deputy Attorney General may, at their discretion, manage the prosecution of the case.
40. Failing the existence of a deputy Attorney General who is able to manage the prosecution of a case, the Delegate may act as such a deputy Attorney General for the duration of the case. If the Delegate is a defendant, the defence attorney, or a witness in the case, then the Vice Delegate may act as such a deputy Attorney General for the duration of the case.
41. It is the duty of the Attorney General, and their deputies, to see to completion of any case the management of which they have undertaken.
42. If the original Attorney General, and their deputies, are unable to see to completion a pending case before the end of their term, the successor Attorney General will take over the managing of the prosecution.
43. If the Attorney General, and their deputies, decline to manage the prosecution of a requested criminal case, then the complainant may, at their discretion, manage themselves the prosecution of the criminal case. Otherwise, they may withdraw the complaint.
44. If the complainant has not stated their intent to either manage the prosecution of the case or withdraw the complaint within 30 days of the Attorney General and their deputies declining the case, the complaint will be considered withdrawn.
45. For the purposes of this section, "managing the prosecution of a case" includes but is not limited to: submitting an indictment to the Court for the relevant charges; arguing on the acceptance or rejection of the indictment; acting as the prosecutor for the duration of all stages of the criminal trial heard for the case; representing the prosecution in any separate judicial review hearings arising from the criminal trial; and appointing, directing, and removing an attorney to act in the above capacity in their place.
Adopted Court Rules:
1. Anyone may submit a request to the Court for a review of government policy or law.
2. Any Justice may accept or deny a request for review, at their discretion. The Justice who accepts a request for review will become its Moderating Justice.
3. During the five days after a request for review has been accepted, anyone may offer information that is relevant to the case and/or advise the Court on how to rule in the form of a brief.
4. Briefs must be submitted in private to the Moderating Justice, who is responsible for posting all received briefs in the public thread after the period for submitting briefs has ended.
5. The period for submitting briefs may be altered at the discretion of the Moderating Justice.
6. The Court will endeavor to deliver an opinion answering the request for review within seven days after the end of the period for submitting briefs.
Adopted Court Rules:
Section 1: Precedent
1. All official Court decisions are legally binding on the Court as a whole as well as each individual Justice.
2. Prior decisions made by the Court, regardless of its composition at the time, must continue to be obeyed by the Court and by each individual Justice until and unless their validity is formally overturned in a new request for review.
3. The Court is a reactive body. Without any such request, the Court may not proactively overturn previous rulings.
4. No Justice may act contrary to the opinions and decisions of the Court as a whole.

Section 2: Appeals

1. The petitioner in a rejected request for review, as well as any of the participating parties in a criminal trial, may appeal a decision made by an individual Justice to the Court as a whole for consideration.
2. The petitioner in an accepted request for review, as well as any of the participating parties in a criminal trial, may file a request asking the Court to order the recusal of any Justice from hearing or ruling on a particular case.
3. During the proceedings of a matter before the Court, substantive appeals and requests which relate to that matter must be addressed before the proceedings can continue.
The Court finds the following:

1. Does the petitioner have "standing" to bring this request for review?

The petitioner bases their right to bring this request for review on the language contained in Clause 37 of Section 6.7 of the Legal Code. ("The Attorney General shall have standing in all cases of judicial review brought before the Court.").

Accordingly, the court holds that the petitioner has standing to bring this request for review.

2. Should Opinion 1 be modified with strikethrough tags as it has been superseded by the current Legal Code Chapter 6, Section 7?

It seems clear to the court that Opinion 1 was written when the law required the Attorney General's Office to bring all cases to trial. The current law is clear in that, in clause 38 of Chapter 6, Section 7 of the Legal Code, "The Attorney General may, at their discretion, manage the prosecution of any criminal case requested." This allows for the Office of AG to decide not to prosecute. As such Opinion 1 is contrary to, and superseded by, the current Legal Code.

The Court, therefore, opines the following:

Opinion Number 1, In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Tim on the Attorney General Refusing to bring Trials to the Court, is hereby modified with strikethrough tags, acknowledging its obsolescence while preserving it for historical purposes. As such, the Court's Ruling issued on September 15, 2012 no longer has the force of law.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on February 15, 2015.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Recusal of Justice Funkadelia
Opinion drafted by Justice Kialga, joined by Chief Justice Severisen and THO The Grim Reaper, with Justice Funkadelia recused

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by flemingovia.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant parts of the Bill of Rights and Adopted Court Rules of the North Pacific:


Bill of Rights:
5. All Nations of The North Pacific have the right to be protected against the abuse of powers by any official of a government authority of the region. Any Nation of The North Pacific has the right to request the recall of any official of a government authority of the region in accordance with the Constitution, that is deemed to have participated in such acts.

9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.

Adopted Court Rules:
Chapter 3 - Section 1:
3. Justices must endeavor to recuse themselves from matters where they have a conflict of interest.
Chapter 4 - Section 2:
2. The petitioner in an accepted request for review, as well as any of the participating parties in a criminal trial, may file a request asking the Court to order the recusal of any Justice from hearing or ruling on a particular case.

The Court opines the following:

The Request before the Court is on the refusal of a Justice to recuse himself from a Request where the petitioner believes a conflict of interest and lack of transparency in the review. It is to the agreement of the Court that, should Justice Funkadelia continue to be engaged in the Review, there is the potential that Justice Funkadelia will have bias.

The Court, upon reviewing the above, has reached the decision that Justice Funkadelia recuse himself from the Request for Review on Election Commissioner's Conduct.

The currently assigned Temporary Hearing Officers are hereby deemed procedurally invalid. As it stands, with all elected Justices being recused from the case, the Delegate will need to select new Temporary Hearing Officers. The current Temporary Hearing Officers are strictly invalid on a procedural basis, and may be reassigned should the Delegate deem fit, without having an immediate Conflict of Interest due to their initial appointments.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on April 4, 2015.
 
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Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
On the Need for Further Clarification on Restarting Voting Periods
Opinion drafted by THO RPI, joined by THOs The Grim Reaper and Lord Ravenclaw, with Chief Justice Severisen and Justices Kialga and Plembobria recused

The Court took into consideration the Request for Review filed here by flemingovia. The thread is located here.

The Court took into consideration the brief filed here by flemingovia.

The Court took into consideration the past Court ruling on the powers of Election Commissioners here

The Court took into consideration the relevant Clause of the Constitution:


Constitutioin: Article 2:
6. The number of votes required to achieve quorum for any vote of the Regional Assembly except elections will be determined by law.

The Court took into consideration the relevant Section of the Bill of Rights:

Bill of Rights:
9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.

The Court took into consideration the relevant Clauses of the Legal Code:

Legal Code: Section 4.2:
3. "Abstentions" are not votes for or against any candidate, and may not be used to determine the results of any election. They may be used for quorum, activity, or other purposes.
4. "Candidates" are those citizens who, during the period of the Election Cycle designated for candidacy declarations, declare themselves or accept a nomination by another citizen as a candidate for an office to be chosen at that Election Cycle.
5. "Election Commissioner" is an individual designated to supervise a given election. No Election Commissioner may run in the election they are overseeing.

The Court opines the following:

The Court finds that in the case of the March 2015 Judicial Election, the voting period should not have been restarted. The terms "abstentions" (a vote to "abstain") and "candidates" have distinct definitions in the Legal Code. The exclusion of a candidate's name on an election ballot infringes upon their rights as defined in Section 9 of the Bill of Rights, as seen in the Court ruling on the powers of Election Commissioners. When the option to "abstain" is excluded from the ballot, there is no such right to inclusion, or a violation of any other law of the North Pacific. The Legal Code specifically defines a vote to "abstain" as a vote that "may not be used to determine the results of any election". Therefore, a vote of 'abstain' cannot legally have any effect on the outcome of an election. There is no quorum requirement that must be achieved for elections, per Clause 6 of Article 2 of the Constitution. As there is no quorum requirement, an election will remain valid regardless of whether or not 'abstain' votes are included or excluded. The citizens of the North Pacific may always vote 'abstain' to meet activity requirements for maintaining citizenship. The Court appreciates the attempts by the Election Commissioners to notify the citizenry of a change in the ballot.

The Court resolves that its decision allows for the following guidelines on the response by Election Commissioners to a ballot where an option on the ballot has been excluded:

Election Guidelines:
In the event that:

I. A candidate is omitted from an official ballot despite having followed appropriate procedure for their candidacy,

The Electoral Commission must:
A. Restart the respective voting period;
B. Notify all eligible voters via Private Message, regardless of their voting status;
C. Publicly recognise the omission in the relevant elections subforum and publicise all relevant dates;
D. Take whatever steps they deem necessary to prevent the omission of candidates in the future.

II. The option to "Abstain" is omitted from an official ballot,
A. If the Electoral Commission have not indicated refusal to accept abstentions from voters during the voting period,

1. The voting period does not need to be restarted;
2. The Election Commission may edit the Ballot to explicitly include the option to "Abstain";
3. The Election Commission must notify all eligible voters of the change in the ballot, using both public and private means.

B. If the Electoral Commission have indicated refusal to accept abstentions from voters during the voting period,

The Electoral Commission must:
1. Restart the respective voting period;
2. Notify all eligible voters via Private Message, regardless of their voting status;
3. Publicly recognise the omission in the relevant elections subforum and publicise all relevant dates;
4. Take whatever steps they deem necessary to prevent the refusal of abstentions in the future.
In all other situations not covered by the law of the North Pacific or by the aforementioned guidelines, the Election Commissioners may use their discretion, in a legal manner, in supervising and overseeing an election cycle as is their duty stated by Clause 5 of Section 4.2 of the Legal Code.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on April 21, 2015.
Ruling partially rendered defunct on December 17, 2023.
 
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Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
On RA Oversight of the North Pacific Armed Forces
Opinion drafted by Justice Plembobria, joined by Chief Justice Severisen and Justice Kialga

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Great Brigantia.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant portion of the legal code of the North Pacific:


4. The NPAF must operate so that:
  • The Delegate can issue a blanket approval for the NPAF to work with a given organisation. The Executive Officer charged with military affairs or the Delegate must still authorize individual missions.
  • Any NPAF member may refuse to take part in any mission which does not directly impact TNP security for any reason that the Executive Officer charged with military affairs or the Delegate determines is reasonable.
  • The Regional Assembly may override by simple majority vote any NPAF deployment not previously approved by the Regional Assembly. The Speaker shall accept motions to override for voting on an expedited basis.

The Court opines the following:

The text of the law here is quite clear that every clause here is understood to begin with the phrase "The NPAF must operate so that..." Therefore, it is the opinion of the Court that, per the text of the law, the NPAF must act in such a manner so that it is actually possible for the Regional Assembly to exercise its right under clause C.

The Court firmly feels that the NPA has not been operating in such a way as to prevent the RA from exercising its right. From what has been seen, the NPA regularly flies the appropriate flags when deployed, generally uses a well known jump point for its missions, and does not hide its involvement in operations. Nothing here is attempting to obfuscate their operations and involvement therein. Were the NPA to have acted in this manner, and a specific instance be pointed to where the involvement in an operation was deliberately hidden from the RA, it would be fair to say that the NPA has violated the law. As such, the court feels it prudent that, going forward, in an effort to facilitate the RA's legal right to overrule a deployment, a representative from the NPA shall make available to the RA, within 12 hours of any deployment, the location and relevant details (what other regions and militaries are involved, why the target was chosen, any other publicly available and non-sensitive details) of any such deployment. The court suggests that this be done either in the NPA forum, or the Private Halls of the RA, but gives the NPA the autonomy to oversee the implementation of this policy.

The court would also note that the way the law is written is ambiguous at best and a revision would be preferable. For instance, were the NPA to deploy for a time period shorter than the RA can legally act on this right, would this be able to be interpreted as the NPA not operating in such a way as to allow the RA to override the deployment? Tag raids come to mind. Detag operations. What legally defines a deployment? Should it include only operations that last longer than __ updates? These issues must be answered, but not by the court in this opinion, and preferably through legislative action in the way of an amendment of the applicable law.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on May 27, 2015.
 
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
On the Suppression of Posts on the Regional Message Board
Opinion drafted by Justice Flemingovia, joined by Chief Justice Plembobria, with Justice Punk D abstaining

Nationstates is a game with rules. Some of those are the game rules, some of them are the rules of the various hosting sites etc that we play the game on, and some of them are house rules that we invent ourselves to make the game more fun: kinda like receiving £400 instead of £200 when landing precisely on GO in Monopoly.

We call some of these house rules “laws” and have courts to arbitrate them. There are two reasons for this. The first is that this is a political/legal sim, and roleplaying Perry Mason is part of the fun of it all, and the other reason is because we are pretty sad individuals who have little actual power in real life, and the online fantasy of importance compensates slightly for our impotence in real life.

In this case, it is clear from testimony and reading the suppressed posts in context that technically Eluvatar abridged DD’s right to free speech. It is also clear that this was in the context of banter back and forth, playing the game, shooting the breeze etc.

What bewilders us is quite why the courts were asked to get involved. I mean, I know we are sad individuals living in our parents’ basement who badly need to get laid but instead play NS obsessively, but surely some things are just too trivial even for us?

There was no harm; there was no foul. Now excuse us, we have to go back and polish our medals. Y’all can carry on pontificating about this if you wish, but if you do so please detach a little bit of your mind to listen to yourself as you type, and despair.


Case thread
Ruling Delivered on August 22, 2015.
Ruling overturned on May 19, 2019.
 
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Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
On Endorsement Count Requirements and the Solicitation of Endorsements
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Eluvatar, joined by Justices Gracius Maximus and Kialga

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by SillyString.

The Court took into consideration the brief filed here by Lord Ravenclaw.

The Court took into consideration the relevant parts of The North Pacific Bill of Rights:


2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.
4. No Nation of The North Pacific holding WA member status in NationStates shall be obligated to endorse any official of a government authority of the region. The right to add an endorsement or withdraw an endorsement is a sovereign right of that Nation as a WA member.
8. No Nation shall be ejected from the region, or banned from any forum, except as expressly authorized by the Constitution or the Legal Code. Should any official of a government authority of the region with authority to act, declare that the immediate ejection or banning of a Nation is an urgent matter of regional security they may order the ejection or banning of the nation. Any ejected or banned nation shall have prompt and immediate recourse to judicial review of the matter. The WA Delegate shall not exercise the power of ejection or banning unless expressly authorized by a specific action of a government authority of the region pursuant to the Constitution or to the Legal Code.
9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.
The Court took into consideration Article 3 of the Constitution of The North Pacific:
1. The Delegate will be the head of state and government of The North Pacific and hold the in-game position of delegate.
10. The Vice Delegate will hold the second most endorsements in the region. The Delegate may eject or ban any nation which exceeds any legally mandated endorsement limit.
The Court took into consideration Chapter 5 of The North Pacific Legal Code:
5. The minimum endorsement count for members of the Council is defined as 300 endorsements, or 50 per cent of the serving Delegate's endorsement count, whichever is lower.
6. The Vice Delegate must maintain an endorsement level of at least 75 per cent of the Delegates endorsement count.
19. If the Vice Delegate nation ceases to exist, voluntarily departs The North Pacific, resigns from the World Assembly, or fails to maintain an endorsement level within the range required of Council members for more than eight days, the Vice Delegate will be removed from office.
21. The Delegate may eject or ban for reckless endorsement gathering any nation in The North Pacific which exceeds the Vice Delegate's endorsement count.
24. The Security Council Law is to be applied in a reasonable manner.
The Court took into consideration Chapter 1 of The North Pacific Legal Code:
1. No criminal case may be brought before the Court of the North Pacific against any resident for any crime not listed in the Criminal Code.
22. "Conspiracy" is defined as planning, attempting, or helping to commit any crime under this criminal code.
23. "Gross Misconduct" is defined as the violation of an individual's legally mandated sworn oath, either willfully or through negligence.
The Court took into consideration Chapter 2 of The North Pacific Legal Code:
7. Conspiracy will be punished by a sentence strictly less than what would be appropriate for the original crime.
8. Gross Misconduct will be punished by removal from office and the suspension of voting rights for whatever finite duration the Court sees fit.
The Court took into consideration the Chapter 4 of The North Pacific Legal Code:
Section 4.1: Oath of Office
1. All government officials will take the Oath of Office below before assuming their role within the government of The North Pacific.
I, [forum username], do hereby solemnly swear that during my term as [government position], I will uphold the ideals of Democracy, Freedom, and Justice of The Region of The North Pacific. I will use the powers and rights granted to me through The North Pacific Constitution and Legal Code in a legal, responsible, and unbiased manner, not abusing my power, committing misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, in any gross or excessive manner. I will act only in the best interests of The North Pacific, not influenced by personal gain or any outside force, and within the restraints of my legally granted power. As such, I hereby take up the office of [government position], with all the powers, rights, and responsibilities held therein.
2. All government officials will be required to take the Oath of Office within one week of their election, as certified by the Election Commissioner; appointment, as publicly announced; or confirmation, as verified by a member of the Speaker's Office. The taking of the Oath constitutes assumption of the office. Failure to post the oath within the allotted time will result in the office being considered vacant, to be filled in accordance with all laws governing elections, appointments, or confirmations, as is appropriate for the office in question.
The Court took into consideration Chapter 6 of The North Pacific Legal Code:
2. Any resident may apply for citizenship using their regional forum account, by providing the name of their nation in The North Pacific, and swearing an oath as follows:
I, the leader of The North Pacific nation of [INSERT YOUR TNP NATION], pledge loyalty to The North Pacific, obedience to her laws, and responsible action as a member of her society. I pledge to only register one nation to vote in The North Pacific. I pledge that no nation under my control will wage war against the North Pacific. I understand that if I break this oath I may permanently lose my voting privileges. In this manner, I petition the Speaker for citizenship in The North Pacific.
The Court opines the following:

The Court understood the request for review to request answers to the following questions:

  1. Question One - Did Vice Delegate Bootsie, Security Counselor Plembobria, or Delegate Lord Ravenclaw break the law when the nation of Plembobria passed Bootsie's nation of Guslantis' endorsement count, or when Cheongji passed Guslantis' endorsement count?
  2. Question Two - When would a Vice Delegate with fewer than the second most endorsements be committing Gross Misconduct?
  3. Question Three - Is it a crime for a nation that is not the Vice Delegate to have the second most endorsements in the region?
  4. Question Four - Is it a crime for a person to do any thing which would cause the Vice Delegate to not have the second most endorsements in the region?
  5. Question Five - Is Clause 21 of Chapter 5 of The North Pacific Legal Code, permitting but not requiring the Delegate to eject or ban nations with more endorsements than the Vice Delegate invalid because it violates the Bill of Rights' guarantee of equal protection?

As an answer to question one is best informed by the answers to questions two, three, and five, it will be addressed last.

Question Two - When does a Vice Delegate not possessing the second most endorsements in the region commit Gross Misconduct?

The constitution states that the Vice Delegate will have the second most endorsements, but the details of how that is to be enforced is left to the legal code. Of specific note are the definition of Gross Misconduct and clauses 5, 6, 19, and 24 of Chapter 5 of the legal code.

23. "Gross Misconduct" is defined as the violation of an individual's legally mandated sworn oath, either willfully or through negligence.
The oath in question is:
I, [forum username], do hereby solemnly swear that during my term as [government position], I will uphold the ideals of Democracy, Freedom, and Justice of The Region of The North Pacific. I will use the powers and rights granted to me through The North Pacific Constitution and Legal Code in a legal, responsible, and unbiased manner, not abusing my power, committing misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, in any gross or excessive manner. I will act only in the best interests of The North Pacific, not influenced by personal gain or any outside force, and within the restraints of my legally granted power. As such, I hereby take up the office of [government position], with all the powers, rights, and responsibilities held therein.
5. The minimum endorsement count for members of the Council is defined as 300 endorsements, or 50 per cent of the serving Delegate's endorsement count, whichever is lower.
6. The Vice Delegate must maintain an endorsement level of at least 75 per cent of the Delegates endorsement count.

...

19. If the Vice Delegate nation ceases to exist, voluntarily departs The North Pacific, resigns from the World Assembly, or fails to maintain an endorsement level within the range required of Council members for more than eight days, the Vice Delegate will be removed from office.

...

24. The Security Council Law is to be applied in a reasonable manner.

The above statutes would be taken as guidance when considering an accusation of Gross Misconduct against a Vice Delegate.

Specifically, when the Vice Delegate nation were to fail to have more than the smaller of 300 or half the endorsements of the serving Delegate nation for more than 8 days, the Vice Delegate would be removed from office automatically, but when they seek to disregard that or fail to maintain an endorsement level of 75 per cent of the serving Delegate nations' in an "unreasonable" context, they could be committing Gross Misconduct through nonfeasance in office in a gross or excessive manner.

Please note that when clause 24 was added, Chapter 5 was titled "Security Council Law." The chapter has since been retitled as "Regional Security Law". This leaves room for ambiguity for interpreting the scope of clause 24 - does it only apply to those parts of the chapter that explicitly relate to the Security Council? In this ruling, we hold to the understanding that the clause applies to the entirety of the chapter, lacking clear guidance otherwise.

It would help keep the Court's work consistent if the Regional Assembly were to resolve this ambiguity of language, one way or another.

Question Three - Is it a crime for a nation that is not the Vice Delegate to have the second most endorsements in the region?

It's not a crime merely to have more endorsements than the Vice Delegate: crimes are strictly defined in the criminal code (as per clause 1), and that's not one of them. In general, Reckless Endorsement Gathering is not a crime, but is a cause for ejection.

However, a Citizen could conceivably commit Gross Misconduct by violating their oath as citizen in egregious cases of Reckless Endorsement Gathering:

I, the leader of The North Pacific nation of [INSERT YOUR TNP NATION], pledge loyalty to The North Pacific, obedience to her laws, and responsible action as a member of her society. I pledge to only register one nation to vote in The North Pacific. I pledge that no nation under my control will wage war against the North Pacific. I understand that if I break this oath I may permanently lose my voting privileges. In this manner, I petition the Speaker for citizenship in The North Pacific.

However, where Reckless Endorsement Gathering is cause for ejection but not a crime, Gross Misconduct is a crime but is not cause for ejection:

8. Gross Misconduct will be punished by removal from office and the suspension of voting rights for whatever finite duration the Court sees fit.

Question Four - Is it a crime for a person to do any thing which would cause the Vice Delegate to not have the second most endorsements in the region?

Endorsing another nation cannot be a crime, as per the bill of rights. "Any thing" is too broad to answer.

Question Five - Is Clause 21 of Chapter 5 of The North Pacific Legal Code, permitting but not requiring the Delegate to eject or ban nations with more endorsements than the Vice Delegate invalid because it violates the Bill of Rights' guarantee of equal protection?

Said clause:
21. The Delegate may eject or ban for reckless endorsement gathering any nation in The North Pacific which exceeds the Vice Delegate's endorsement count.
The use of clause 21 to eject political opponents, nations whose name begins with a particular letter, or in other such ways would violate the bill of rights:

9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution.

It would not violate the bill of rights to exercise the granted discretion to only eject nations that pose an actual threat or flagrantly disregard requests to temper their endorsement gathering or otherwise in a manner that serves the interests of the region.

Furthermore, clause 24 requires that 21 be applied in a "reasonable manner". This can be understood as requiring care to be reasonable when exercising that power of ejection, which conventionally includes "being reasonable" toward others - that is to say, it includes a degree of leniency when possible.

The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.

If and when the only nation with more endorsements than the Vice Delegate besides the Delegate is not a member of the Security Council, and the Delegate declines to remove them despite advice from the Security Council to do so, there could be concerns regarding equal and fair treatment.

In any case of ejection, nations are entitled to judicial review of their ejection, which can be used to enforce these protections:

8. No Nation shall be ejected from the region, or banned from any forum, except as expressly authorized by the Constitution or the Legal Code. Should any official of a government authority of the region with authority to act, declare that the immediate ejection or banning of a Nation is an urgent matter of regional security they may order the ejection or banning of the nation. Any ejected or banned nation shall have prompt and immediate recourse to judicial review of the matter. The WA Delegate shall not exercise the power of ejection or banning unless expressly authorized by a specific action of a government authority of the region pursuant to the Constitution or to the Legal Code.

Question One - Did Vice Delegate Bootsie, Security Counselor Plembobria, or Delegate Lord Ravenclaw break the law when the nation of Plembobria passed Bootsie's nation of Guslantis' endorsement count, or when Cheongji passed Guslantis' endorsement count?

The Court cannot give a criminal verdict in a request for review, nor rule on an indictment sight unseen.

However, the answers to questions two through five suggest that Lord Ravenclaw did not break the law by declining to eject either Cheongji or Plembobria, that as no claim has been made that Guslantis failed to have at least 75% of the serving Delegate's endorsement count there is no basis presented to consider Bootsie to have committed Gross Misconduct, and that as no case has been made that Plembobria acted irresponsibly there is no basis presented to consider Plembobria to have committed the same.

As the Security law's clause 24 recognizes, achieving exact adherence with the endorsement level mandates is not always practicable. The resolution of such practical questions belongs with the Delegate, Vice Delegate, and Security Council in the first instance. The Court is better placed to review their judgements than to micromanage them in the execution of their core duties. It would be inappropriate to speak further on legality with the actions available for review.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on September 18, 2016.
 
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
On the Power of the Court to Compel the Disclosure of Information
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Eluvatar, joined by Justices Gracius Maximus and Kialga

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by flemingovia.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant Bill of Rights of the North Pacific, clause 7:


7. When charged with criminal acts, Nations of The North Pacific shall have a fair, impartial, and public trial before a neutral and impartial judicial officer. In any criminal proceeding, a Nation is presumed innocent unless guilt is proven to the fact finder by reasonably certain evidence. A Nation may be represented by any counsel of the Nation's choosing. No Nation convicted of a crime shall be subject to a punishment disproportionate to that crime.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Gaspo on the Existence of a Duty to Disclose:

The Court had determined that in order for a nation to have equal and fair treatment and protection of law and due process of said law a duty to disclose all exculpatory evidence is in fact created by the Bill of Rights. The Court reviewed the Bill of Rights and the Request filed by Gaspo on this matter. The Court is in unanimous agreement that a duty to disclose all exculpatory evidence does in fact exist under the provisions of the Bill of Rights. The Court also notes that if in such a case the prosecution unknowingly posses exculpatory evidence when they are made aware of such evidence it must be disclosed to the Court and the Defense Council immediately.

The Court opines the following:

The Court has no statutory or explicit constitutional authority to order disclosure or testimony in general: this has occasionally been cause for concern, such as when Attorney General Gasponia sought to prosecute several members of the United Defenders League in the wake of the Warhammer 40000 incident.

In order for the Court to fulfill its bill-of-right mandated duties to run a fair trial, however, as in the Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Gaspo on the Existence of a Duty to Disclose, the Court must and therefore may order the disclosure of information held by any branch of government necessary for a fair trial.

As the Court is best positioned to review the decisions of others rather than issue its own, it is appropriate for the Court not to issue such orders in the first instance. It is after a branch of the government has been presented with a request for information, and has chosen either to release it or to decline, that the Court is best positioned to review such a decision. The Court is entitled to treat a refusal to respond in a timely manner as a refusal of the request.

In general, exculpatory evidence may not be kept secret if a prosecution is to go forward. No nation may be convicted of any crime if exculpatory evidence exists and is not available to the defense. The revelation of such evidence after the fact, which could have been made available but was not, could well invalidate a conviction.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on October 17, 2016.
 
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
On the Process for Declassifying Information for Use as Evidence in a Criminal Trial
Opinion drafted by Justice Crushing Our Enemies and THO Barbarossistan, joined by THO Abbey Anumia, with Chief Justice Eluvatar and Justice SillyString recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Ash.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Bill of Rights for all Nations of The North Pacific:

Bill of Rights:
7. When charged with criminal acts, Nations of The North Pacific shall have a fair, impartial, and public trial before a neutral and impartial judicial officer. In any criminal proceeding, a Nation is presumed innocent unless guilt is proven to the fact finder by reasonably certain evidence. A Nation may be represented by any counsel of the Nation's choosing. No Nation convicted of a crime shall be subject to a punishment disproportionate to that crime.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Codified Law of The North Pacific:
Legal Code:
1. All government officials will take the Oath of Office below before assuming their role within the government of The North Pacific.
I, [forum username], do hereby solemnly swear that during my term as [government position], I will uphold the ideals of Democracy, Freedom, and Justice of The Region of The North Pacific. I will use the powers and rights granted to me through The North Pacific Constitution and Legal Code in a legal, responsible, and unbiased manner, not abusing my power, committing misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, in any gross or excessive manner. I will act only in the best interests of The North Pacific, not influenced by personal gain or any outside force, and within the restraints of my legally granted power. As such, I hereby take up the office of [government position], with all the powers, rights, and responsibilities held therein.
Legal Code:
31. For the purposes of this section, classified information is that which fits any of the below definitions:
  • Real life information about any NationStates player from which there is a risk of inferring that player's real life identity and which has not willingly been disclosed to the public, including, but not limited to, an individual's name, IP address, physical address or location, phone number, place of employment or education, appearance, social media accounts, and other knowledge about a player, unless the player in question provides explicit consent for this information not to be considered private.
  • Real life information about any NationStates player for which there exists a reasonable real life expectation of privacy or discretion, including, but not limited to, health status, both mental and physical; financial status; personal tragedies; changes in personal status such as marriage, divorce, pregnancy, birth, or death; and other similar information, unless the player in question provides explicit consent for this information not to be considered private.
  • Information that, upon being made public, would jeopardize any ongoing military or intelligence operations; or jeopardize the security of units and agents participating in them, or be harmful to the diplomatic interests, military interests, or security of The North Pacific.
The Court took into consideration the relevant Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific in regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by flemingovia on the power of the Court to subpoena evidence:
The Court has no statutory or explicit constitutional authority to order disclosure or testimony in general: this has occasionally been cause for concern, such as when Attorney General Gasponia sought to prosecute several members of the United Defenders League in the wake of the Warhammer 40000 incident.

In order for the Court to fulfill its bill-of-right mandated duties to run a fair trial, however, as in the Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Gaspo on the Existence of a Duty to Disclose, the Court must and therefore may order the disclosure of information held by any branch of government necessary for a fair trial.

As the Court is best positioned to review the decisions of others rather than issue its own, it is appropriate for the Court not to issue such orders in the first instance. It is after a branch of the government has been presented with a request for information, and has chosen either to release it or to decline, that the Court is best positioned to review such a decision. The Court is entitled to treat a refusal to respond in a timely manner as a refusal of the request.

In general, exculpatory evidence may not be kept secret if a prosecution is to go forward. No nation may be convicted of any crime if exculpatory evidence exists and is not available to the defense. The revelation of such evidence after the fact, which could have been made available but was not, could well invalidate a conviction.

The Court opines the following:

If a governmental body of The North Pacific is in possession of evidence to be presented in court, they may redact or withhold classified information from the evidence. For purposes of this ruling, classified information is defined as any information that falls into the three categories defined by the Freedom of Information Act as it currently stands:
Freedom of Information Act:
  • Real life information about any NationStates player from which there is a risk of inferring that player's real life identity and which has not willingly been disclosed to the public, including, but not limited to, an individual's name, IP address, physical address or location, phone number, place of employment or education, appearance, social media accounts, and other knowledge about a player, unless the player in question provides explicit consent for this information not to be considered private.
  • Real life information about any NationStates player for which there exists a reasonable real life expectation of privacy or discretion, including, but not limited to, health status, both mental and physical; financial status; personal tragedies; changes in personal status such as marriage, divorce, pregnancy, birth, or death; and other similar information, unless the player in question provides explicit consent for this information not to be considered private.
  • Information that, upon being made public, would jeopardize any ongoing military or intelligence operations; or jeopardize the security of units and agents participating in them, or be harmful to the diplomatic interests, military interests, or security of The North Pacific.
A prosecutor may be involved in this decision due to also serving in a different capacity in the government. A Conflict of Interest may arise when an official has multiple goals, such as a prosecutor wishing to secure a conviction.

In order to protect the right to a fair trial, a full copy of the evidence must be provided by the government to the moderating justice, and only information which falls into the first two categories above may be redacted from this copy. At the moderating justice's discretion, this copy may be provided to both parties in the trial, and each decision to withhold or redact evidence that falls into the third category above may be overturned by the request of either party. Motions to overturn decisions by the government to redact or withhold evidence may be made by either party, even if the moderating justice's copy of the evidence is not provided to them. Unless a motion is granted to overturn the government's decision to redact or withhold evidence, no redacted or withheld evidence may be considered in the court's deliberations on any verdict or sentence.

The court finds that this process is sufficient to ensure a fair and impartial trial regardless of who made the initial decision to redact or withhold evidence or their motivation to do so. As a consequence the court finds that a prosecutor may be involved in the decision to withhold or redact evidence. The court also finds that Sillystring did not violate the Bill of Rights by being involved in the decision to redact evidence in the TSronK trial.

The court wishes to remind officials that deciding to redact or withhold evidence for any reason other than those listed above, particularly in order to improperly influence the outcome of a trial, may result in a violation of their oath of office. If it is found that evidence was improperly redacted or withheld the court may furthermore overturn a conviction influenced by this improper evidence.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on December 9, 2016.
 
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
On Regional Officers Banning Nations during NationStates Events
Opinion drafted by Justice Crushing Our Enemies, joined by THOs Altmoras and Abbey, with Chief Justice SillyString recused

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Gracius Maximus.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:


11. No governmental authority of the region has the power to suspend or disregard the Constitution or the Legal Code. In the event of an actual emergency, the governmental authorities of the region, with the express consent of the Nations of the region or their representatives, is authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is consistent as practicable with the pertinent provisions of the Constitution.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of the North Pacific:

Legal Code Chapter 9:
Section 9.2: Disease Control
3. A NationStates event involving an outbreak of an infectious disease shall be considered an actual emergency, and does not require a declaration by the RA.
4. In advance of an outbreak, or promptly after an outbreak begins, the government must present a poll to the public regarding how the government should respond. The poll must contain at least three substantially different options. The government will respond according to the will of the public expressed through that poll.
5. During an outbreak, the delegate is authorized to act in any reasonable manner to pursue the adopted plan. This includes, but is not limited to, ejecting or banning nations from the region who have entered the region during the crisis and imposing restrictions on national movement into the region.
6. Nations ejected or banned because of the outbreak must be promptly unbanned and invited to return once the emergency is over.
7. During an outbreak, no nation may have their status as a resident or citizen removed solely for leaving the region, so long as they return within three days of the end of the emergency.
8. Following an outbreak, the Speaker must promptly contact any resident or citizen who remains outside the region, and inform them that they are at risk of losing their status if they do not return within three days.

Legal Code Chapter 6:
12. The Speaker will promptly remove any citizens whose removal is ordered by the Court, or whose nation in The North Pacific leaves or ceases to exist.
13. The Speaker's office will promptly remove any citizens who fail to post in The North Pacific forum for over 30 consecutive days.

The Court opines the following:

There are circumstances under which it is legal for a regional officer to eject a nation during a NationStates event involving the outbreak of an infectious disease.

First, the delegate must take action to authorize the regional officer to eject nations. This need not be done publicly, so long as it is done explicitly by the delegate. Simply granting border control powers would not be sufficient. The delegate would have to make contact with the regional officer and grant them explicit authority to eject nations during the event.

Second, authorizing a regional officer to eject nations must be reasonable under the circumstances. For example, if the delegate appointed a regional officer who was known to be a security risk, that would be illegal because it is unreasonable.

Third, authorizing a regional officer to eject nations must be in pursuit of the regional plan to handle the emergency. For example, if the delegate authorized a regional officer to eject nations that send cure missiles when the regional plan is to cure infected, that would be illegal because it would not be in pursuit of the regional plan.

These three conditions are drawn from Section 9.2 of the legal code. In other areas of the law, the appointment of regional officers and the ejection or banning of a nation are more strictly regulated. However, because the outbreak of an infectious disease is defined in law as an “actual emergency”, clause 11 of the Bill of Rights is invoked, and the governmental authorities of the region, which include the delegate, are “authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is as consistent as practicable” with the constitution. Clause 11 also requires that the government have the consent of the nations of the region to take such actions. It is the opinion of the court that section 9.2 of the legal code, being adopted as law by the citizenry, constitutes the consent of the nations to assume emergency powers. Thus, as long as the conditions specified in section 9.2 (and explicated above) are adhered to, ejections and bans by the delegate during the outbreak of an infectious disease are legal, and so are actions by the delegate to authorize other nations to perform ejections and bans.

Turning specifically to the ejection of Gracius Maximus, it would seem reasonable and in pursuit of the regional plan for plembobria to permit GBM to eject nations that were sending hordes. Thus, the second and third conditions appear to be met. However, it is not known to the court whether plembobria explicitly took action to authorize her to do so, whether GBM was instructed to do so by another party, or whether she took it upon herself to do so. Thus, it is unknown to the court whether the first condition above was met, and the court is unable to definitively rule on whether Gracius Maximus’ rights were violated when he was ejected by Great Bights Mum.

The court notes, however, that for purposes of losing citizenship, ejections do not constitute leaving the region, since the ejected nation was forcibly removed and took no action to leave. Thus, under the law as it currently stands, ejected citizens would remain citizens until they ceased to exist, returned the region and then departed of their own volition, or failed to post on the forum for over 30 consecutive days.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on January 9, 2017.
Ruling clarified on May 15, 2024.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On Election Commissioners Failing to Take Their Oaths
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice SillyString, joined by THOs Bootsie and The Grim Reaper, with Justices Crushing Our Enemies and Abbey recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Darcania.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Darcania.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Guy.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by falapatorius.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Zyvetskistaahn.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Barbarossistan.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 7: General Provisions:
8. All government officials will swear an oath of office. The content of these oaths will be determined by law and be legally binding.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:
3. Participation in the governmental authorities of the region is voluntary. Participation in the World Assembly shall not be a condition of participation in the governmental authorities of the region.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Section 4.1:
Section 4.1: Oath of Office
1. All government officials will take the Oath of Office below before assuming their role within the government of The North Pacific.
I, [forum username], do hereby solemnly swear that during my term as [government position], I will uphold the ideals of Democracy, Freedom, and Justice of The Region of The North Pacific. I will use the powers and rights granted to me through The North Pacific Constitution and Legal Code in a legal, responsible, and unbiased manner, not abusing my power, committing misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, in any gross or excessive manner. I will act only in the best interests of The North Pacific, not influenced by personal gain or any outside force, and within the restraints of my legally granted power. As such, I hereby take up the office of [government position], with all the powers, rights, and responsibilities held therein.
2. All government officials will be required to take the Oath of Office within one week of their election, as certified by the Election Commissioner; appointment, as publicly announced; or confirmation, as verified by a member of the Speaker's Office. The taking of the Oath constitutes assumption of the office. Failure to post the oath within the allotted time will result in the office being considered vacant, to be filled in accordance with all laws governing elections, appointments, or confirmations, as is appropriate for the office in question.
Section 4.2:
5. "Election Commissioner" is an individual designated to supervise a given election. No Election Commissioner may run in the election they are overseeing.
6. "Election Cycle" is defined as the period of time that begins on the first day on which candidacy declarations can be made and concludes with the final declaration of results for an election.
7. A "vacancy" in an office occurs when the holder of it resigns, is removed, or abandons it. An office is abandoned when its holder does not log onto the regional forums for two weeks without prior notice, or when an election winner or appointee fails to post the Oath of Office. Pending an election, a vacancy may be temporarily filled as provided by the Constitution, this Legal Code, or a rule adopted by the appropriate body.
Section 4.3:
9. Citizens shall be provided three days to declare their candidacy. Following the closure of candidacy declaration, four days shall be allowed for campaigning, during which no further candidate declarations shall be allowed.
10. Voting will begin immediately after the campaigning period has closed and last for five days.
11. If a run-off vote is required it will begin within one day of the first vote ending and it shall last for five days.
12. Private votes may be sent by private message to a forum account designated for that purpose by the Election Commissioners. In such an event, the Election Commissioners shall promptly announce that a vote has been cast privately and who that vote was cast for. The Election Commissioners may not announce any other details about the vote.
Section 4.4:
18. A minimum of two Election Commissioners will be appointed by the Delegate to oversee the candidacy declaration and election processes at least one week before the beginning of the month in which the election is to be held. If an appointment of Election Commissioners has not been made by that time, the Vice Delegate shall promptly make the appointment. citizens serving as government officials are not excluded from appointments under this clause.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on Leaving a Candidate's Name off the Ballot:
The Court believes that in such cases where a timetable for elections is present when a violation of the Bill of Rights or Constitution is found in order to keep the legitimacy of the election the timetable must be altered as not doing so would in itself be a violation of the Bill of Rights.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on Oath Violations by Former Members of the Regional Assembly:
The Court had determined that the matter is twofold. If the violation occurs after the time in which the nation is no longer a member of the Regional Assembly then they are not violating their oath as they are not bound to that oath at the current moment. Whereas if the violation occurs during the time in which the nation was a member of the Regional Assembly and was bound by that oath they may be tried for an Oath Violation.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on Restarting Voting Periods:
The Court recognizes the fact that restarting an election already in progress results in the discounting of legally cast votes. When this discounting happens without due justification, the Court believes that it constitutes a violation of the rights granted by Article 10 of the Bill of Rights. The question then becomes, what is due justification?
It is first determined that the omission of a valid candidate's name from the ballot is a violation of their rights under Article 9 of the Bill of Rights that can only be remedied by restarting the vote. Importantly, it is further determined that not restarting the vote---or not altering the timetable as otherwise required---would itself be a violation of the Bill of Rights.

The Court wishes to elaborate on these findings, and the second determination in particular. The violation of the Bill of Rights in the above set of circumstances is twofold. The omission of a valid candidate's name from the ballot, the Court found previously, is in violation of Article 9. The remedy for this violation is to render the vote void. Consequently, votes cast using the erroneous ballot are also invalidated. Their invalidity is not by fault of the voters, but of the Electoral Commission, which failed to provide those entitled to vote with an opportunity to exercise their right in a valid way. This failure is, by itself, a violation of Article 10. The remedy for the second violation is to discount the invalid votes and restart the vote. In the context of our original question, the discounting of the votes resulting by restarting a vote under these circumstances is justified: the mishandling of the original vote was egregious enough to invalidate those votes beyond repair, and thus making their discounting in favor of a new vote the only means available for safeguarding the rights guaranteed under Article 10.

The above argument points to an answer to the question the Court set to investigate. Restarting a vote, and the discounting of votes it implies, is justified and necessary when it is the only remedy appropriate for a transgression---be it with regards to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, electoral law and its interpretation by the Court, or rules set by the Electoral Commission itself---that occurred during the conduct of a vote by fault of the Electoral Commission overseeing it. This answer is not to be interpreted as an exhaustive enumeration of conditions for restarting a vote: the one condition presented is merely sufficient. Furthermore, care must be taken when determining the truth of the first part of the condition, the uniqueness of the remedy. As the petitioner presented, discounting previous votes by restarting a vote runs the danger of voters who already cast their ballot not realizing that they need to recast it, and therefore going against the very rights of Article 10 they set to protect. At the same time, not restarting the vote runs the danger of the same voters not realizing that there has been a change in the circumstances under which they originally cast their vote, again posing hazards for the Article 10 rights. Both risks are remedied to an extent by the requirement for sufficient prior notice for actions of the Electoral Commission placed by Article 9 of the Bill of Rights. All these factors must be taken into consideration, and be balanced against the severity of the effects of the transgression, when determining whether restarting a vote is the only available remedy. The fact that, as decided previously by the Court, the omission of a valid candidate's name from the ballot is one case justifying restarting a vote should provide a standard of comparison when making this determination.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Time at which Oaths Become Binding:
The Court has previously ruled that former Regional Assembly members are no longer bound by the Regional Assembly oath when their membership expires, and that they are bound by the oath while they are Regional Assembly members. It is heavily implied by that same ruling that the oath is only binding while a nation is a member of the Regional Assembly. The Court sees no compelling reason to overturn that precedent.

It is the opinion of the Court that the Regional Assembly membership oath found in Section 6 Clause 2 of the Codified Law of the North Pacific becomes legally binding on RA applicants if and when they become members of the Regional Assembly, and remains binding only so long as they remain members. Explicitly, the oath becomes binding when any of the following conditions are met:
  • The Speaker admits the applicant and/or accepts their application;
  • The applicant has neither been accepted nor rejected after 14 days pass from the date of their application;
  • The applicant has been rejected by the Speaker for failing a security check by the Vice Delegate, and the RA has voted not to uphold that rejection.
Those conditions are the same conditions under which an applicant becomes a member of the RA.

Decision

The Regional Assembly oath becomes legally binding upon a nation when they become a member of the Regional Assembly.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Need for Further Clarification on Restarting Voting Periods:
The exclusion of a candidate's name on an election ballot infringes upon their rights as defined in Section 9 of the Bill of Rights, as seen in the Court ruling on the powers of Election Commissioners. When the option to "abstain" is excluded from the ballot, there is no such right to inclusion, or a violation of any other law of the North Pacific.
The Court opines the following:

The election cycle that began on March 1 is null and void in its entirety. At the time it began, Guy and Tomb were not Election Commissioners, and the candidacy declaration thread opened by them at that point was functionally equivalent to one opened by any citizen - it held no legal or electoral weight. The voting thread, opened after they swore oaths, was likewise invalid, as it did not follow a legal candidacy declaration period.

Furthermore, neither their initial appointment (which took place on 2/27) nor their reappointment (which took place on 3/8) by the delegate, plembobria, was valid. The Legal Code states that the delegate must make appointments of Election Commissioners at least one week prior to the scheduled start of an election, and that appointments after that point must be made by the Vice Delegate. The deadline for the delegate to make the initial appointments was 2/22, so it was only the Vice Delegate who had the authority to appoint Election Commissioners either time.

Accordingly, the Court ordered the following on March 17:
1) The Vice Delegate is ordered to appoint at least two Election Commissioners.

2) Once the Election Commissioners take their oaths, they are ordered to open nominations for the March 2017 Judicial Election, and proceed through the entire election cycle.
The Court now turns to additional, more specific questions raised during this review:

Are Election Commissioners government officials?

Yes. Election Commissioners are appointed by constitutionally-mandated elected officials, and thus they qualify as government officials under the law. Like all government officials, they are required to take the oath of office within seven days of their appointment, which constitutes assumption of that office. This holds true in the case of special elections as well, when another official is serving as an election commissioner - or, indeed, anytime a government official assumes a second office.

If the Delegate appoints Election Commissioners at least one week before the start of an election cycle, but they do not take their oaths within seven days, does that power still devolve to the Vice Delegate after the deadline?

Yes. Election Commissioner appointments remain valid for seven days. If the appointees have not sworn their oaths within the allowed seven day period, those appointments expire. At that point, the question of who holds the power to name new Election Commissioners is decided exactly as if no appointments were ever made.

Do actions taken by elected, appointed, or confirmed officials prior to their taking of the oath have legal force?

No. All government officials must take their oath prior to carrying out any actions in an official capacity. Any such actions taken prior to the swearing of the oath are invalid and hold no governmental authority. Depending on the nature of the actions, they could potentially also be illegal. For instance, if the individual banned a nation from the region before taking up an office that gave them the legal authority to do so, they could be subject to criminal charges.

Can an oath of office apply retroactively to actions taken after winning election, or being appointed?

Absolutely not. No oath under TNP law may apply retroactively. The oath of office becomes binding on an individual when they swear it and assume the position relating to that oath, just as it stops being binding when they cease to hold that position. The oath can neither criminalize misconduct, nor legitimize unofficial actions, from before it was sworn.

A government official cannot be found guilty of gross misconduct for violating the oath of office before they took it. And, by the same token, an election commissioner taking their oath after opening candidacy declarations cannot thereby give that thread legal standing.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on March 25, 2017.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Speaker's Power to Extend Voting Periods
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Zyvetskistaahn, joined by Justices MacSalterson and Yalkan

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Siwale.

The Court took into consideration the legal briefs filed by Siwale, Owenstacey, and Guy.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 2. The Regional Assembly:
8. The Speaker will administer the rules of the Regional Assembly. Where no rules exist, the Speaker may use their discretion.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Section 6.3: Voting:
16. The number of votes required to achieve quorum for any legislative vote is equal to one third of the number of citizens who have voted in at least one of the three most recent legislative votes. A legislative vote is a vote of the Regional Assembly to enact, amend or repeal laws.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Rules of the Regional Assembly of The North Pacific:
Section 2. Voting:
3. The Speaker will, at the beginning of a vote of the Regional Assembly, decide its duration as permitted by law.
4. If a number of citizens equal to or exceeding one third of the number of votes required to achieve quorum for any legislative vote object to the duration of a vote of the Regional Assembly decided by the Speaker before the conclusion of the vote, then that vote will last for the maximum duration permitted by law.
5. If at the conclusion of a vote quorum has not been achieved, then the Speaker may extend the duration of the vote to the maximum permitted by law.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its Ruling on the Speaker's Power to End Debate:
With that decided, the Court would take this opportunity to comment more broadly on the powers of the Speaker. Under the aforementioned Constitutional clause, the Speaker is granted broad discretion, where no rules exist, to administer the Regional Assembly as he or she sees fit. Under the Bill of Rights segment also mentioned previously, the Court believes that all government officials are obligated by law to act in good faith in discharging their duties. The Court believes that the Speaker does possess the right to unilaterally table proposals, if their continued debate is not reasonably in the best interests of the region. The Constitution grants this discretion, and the Bill of Rights in effect obligates the Speaker to exercise said discretion if he or she feels it is appropriate. If the Nations of The North Pacific disagree, the procedure for Recall is quite clear, and as has been demonstrated over the past few months, is quite accessible. Legal review of the Speaker's discretionary decisions is not, generally speaking, necessary.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its Ruling on the Use of the Speaker's Power to End Debate:
The Constitution establishes that the Regional Assembly has the authority to create the rules for its governance, and that it is the duty of the Speaker to administer those rules. Where there is vagueness as to procedure, or when situations arise which are not covered by those rules, or by superseding ones within the Constitution, Legal Code, or Bill of Rights, the Speaker is empowered to act as they see fit within the best interests of the region. Previous Courts have interpreted this power broadly, upholding the Speaker's broad authority to maintain an appropriate atmosphere, promote a productive use of the Regional Assembly, and block proposals and votes which they deem harmful. While the relevant law has changed since the previous decision, prompting us to take this case, upon investigation the underlying principles have not.
The Court opines the following:

The Constitution provides for the Regional Assembly to make rules dealing with its proceedings. It further empowers the Speaker to take broad discretionary action where no rules exist.

The Regional Assembly has chosen to make rules in relation to the timing of votes. Those rules empower the Speaker to, at the beginning of a vote, decide the length of the vote and, at the end of it, to extend its length if it would be inquorate at the originally scheduled conclusion. They also provide citizens with a mechanism to extend the vote to the maximum duration.

It has not been argued before the Court that the Speaker was using their power under the rules to extend the vote. It has been argued, however, that if such a use was claimed, it would have been without the scope of the power. The Court accepts that this power was not exercised and that, had it been purported to have been exercised, it would have been unlawful. The power under the rules cannot be used prior to the conclusion of the vote and, in any event, the votes in question appear to have been quorate at the time the extension was made.

The Speaker has submitted that there exists a discretionary power under the Constitution to extend the duration of a vote and that the rules do not exclude the existence of such a power. The Court, in considering this proposition, is cognisant of its prior rulings on the nature of the Speaker's discretionary power: that it is a broad one; and that it is not limited strictly to occasions where no rules cover a matter, but extends to addressing vagueness in adopted rules. However, the Court does not agree that the rules permit the existence of a power of the kind the Speaker contends.

Clause 3 of the relevant Section of the rules provides for the Speaker to set the duration of the vote at its beginning, this serves to exclude the discretion of the Speaker in altering the duration of a vote. To hold that there exists a general discretion to extend a voting period during the voting period would rob this rule of a significant part of its force, effectively permitting a different period to be set after the beginning of a vote. Further, Clause 5 of the Section provides reason to think that the discretion is excluded: if Clause 3 was meant to leave intact a discretionary power to extend a vote in any circumstance, there would be no need to include an express discretion in relation to inquorate votes and Clause 5 would be rendered mere surplusage.

Where the rules cover a matter it is not necessary for them to expressly exclude the Speaker's discretion, for the discretion exists only where the rules are absent or sufficiently vague as to leave room for discretionary action. This Section is comprehensive and it does not contain a vagueness within which the Speaker's actions can be said to have fit, thus, its exclusion of a discretion to alter voting periods outside of its terms is total. The Court must conclude, therefore, that the extension was unlawful as there was no power to extend the voting period at the time the extension was made.

Turning to the remedy that the Court is to prescribe, the Court is mindful of the need to impress the importance of adherence to properly established procedure and to ensure, to the greatest possible extent, legal certainty. The delay inherent to the processes of the Court has, unfortunately, led to considerable uncertainty around a number of issues and ordering a count as though the conditions at the originally scheduled close remained true is likely to be of greater logistical difficulty for the Speaker than alternative remedies. Therefore, the Court concludes that the more certain remedy of voiding the impugned votes is the course that ought to be followed.

Accordingly, the votes on the Citizenship Security Evaluations Amendment and the motion to Admit Kasch to the Security Council are voided and the Speaker must commence fresh votes in relation to each of those matters.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on October 22, 2017.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On Court Review of Prior Court Rulings
Opinion drafted by THO Abbey, joined by THO Plembobria, with THO Yalkan abstaining, and with Chief Justice Zyvetskistaahn and Justices Bootsie and Scorch recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by SillyString.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Clean Land.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Zyvetskistaahn.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Barbarossistan.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 5. The Court

1. The Court will try all criminal cases, resolve conflicts or ambiguities in the law, and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies by request of an affected party.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:
5. All Nations of The North Pacific have the right to be protected against the abuse of powers by any official of a government authority of the region. Any Nation of The North Pacific has the right to request the recall of any official of a government authority of the region in accordance with the Constitution, that is deemed to have participated in such acts.

---

11. No governmental authority of the region has the power to suspend or disregard the Constitution or the Legal Code. In the event of an actual emergency, the governmental authorities of the region, with the express consent of the Nations of the region or their representatives, is authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is consistent as practicable with the pertinent provisions of the Constitution.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the ruling on Standing and the Definition of Affected Party:
The Court opines that an affected party, with respect to one's the ability to request judicial review, is someone who reasonably perceives that their rights have been infringed through action or inaction undertaken by a governmental body or bodies. An affected party also include those affected, adversely or otherwise, by laws passed by the regional assembly and policies enacted by the executive and judicial branches of government.

The affected party must detail in their review request the rights they perceive have been violated and/or the laws put asunder showing a clear connection between the law and how they are personally affected in the situation.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the ruling on the Nature of Precedent and the Scope of the Court's Powers:
If, however, the statement is interpreted differently, to point out the inherent contradiction in the Court's power to review all government policies and decisions except its own (despite the Court being itself a part of the government), then we wholeheartedly agree with the stated proposition. The Court believes COE's intent was such, and holds that, as specifically mandated by that Article, the Court is obliged to review its own decisions should the need arise (and a proper request be made - arbitrary requests for review every time a new Court is elected are not permissible), as it is responsible for doing with all governmental policies. If, as we suspect, that was COE's meaning, then this Court wholeheartedly agrees, with some caveats, as discussed below.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the ruling on Judicial Recusals:
The Request before the Court is on the refusal of a Justice to recuse himself from a Request where the petitioner believes a conflict of interest and lack of transparency in the review. It is to the agreement of the Court that, should Justice Funkadelia continue to be engaged in the Review, there is the potential that Justice Funkadelia will have bias.

The Court, upon reviewing the above, has reached the decision that Justice Funkadelia recuse himself from the Request for Review on Election Commissioner's Conduct.

The currently assigned Temporary Hearing Officers are hereby deemed procedurally invalid. As it stands, with all elected Justices being recused from the case, the Delegate will need to select new Temporary Hearing Officers. The current Temporary Hearing Officers are strictly invalid on a procedural basis, and may be reassigned should the Delegate deem fit, without having an immediate Conflict of Interest due to their initial appointments.

The Court opines the following:

It is the opinion of the Court that the Court's actions in this case are not reviewable. This is because the Court believes that only in exceptional circumstances, in the case of a particularly severe breach, can the Court's actions be reviewed. This is in order to protect the Court, which is necessary due to the fact that TNP has only a single court and no sophisticated appeals system. As happened here, reviews of Court actions hold up other requests - and it is conceivable that a particularly litigious AG, or group of citizens that can contrive standing in all the matters brought up, could lead you to have a deep "stack" of Court reviews, with the first only being reviewed after many weeks of supplementary reviews being resolved. This would be a bad thing, and is the reason why this Court will not rule that all Court actions are reviewable. The Court's time cannot afford to be held up with overly litigious requests for reviews of its own actions, necessitating the recruitment of THOs and eventually, the pool of people willing and able to serve as a THO will dry up.

Considering the precedent, for instance the ruling on Judicial Recusals as well as the ruling on the Nature of Precedent and the Scope of the Court's Powers, these both make clear (either through actions or words) that the Court is reviewable. This ruling does not change that, it simply re-affirms the high standard for that review being possible.

Therefore, this court determines that requests for review can only be reviewed themselves in exceptional circumstances when all routes of appeal have been exhausted. This ruling does not apply to criminal cases.

Given the above determination, this request for review would not have been accepted had it been made after this ruling. Therefore the Court has not continued to consider the matter of the ability of the Court to rule on RA matters.


Case thread
Ruling delivered on December 22, 2017.
Ruling overturned on March 11, 2018.
 
Last edited:
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Reconsideration of Court Review of Prior Court Rulings
Opinion drafted by THO Sil Dorsett, joined by THOs Cogoria and Sasten, with Chief Justice Zyvetskistaahn and Justices Bootsie and Scorch recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Barbarossistan, and its follow-up here.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Falapatorius.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Goyanes.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by SillyString, and its follow-up here.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Guy.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Zyvetskistaahn.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 5. The Court

1. The Court will try all criminal cases, resolve conflicts or ambiguities in the law, and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies by request of an affected party.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Article 3. Judicial Law

6. If one or more Justice positions are vacant, or any Justice is absent or has recused themselves, the remaining Justices will promptly appoint replacements from among available citizens to participate as temporary Hearing Officers.

8. Any recusal or absence of a Hearing Officer will be treated as a vacancy.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of On the Nature of Precedent and the Scope of the Court's Powers:
The Court holds that the Court is obliged to review its own decisions should the need arise (and a proper request be made - arbitrary requests for review every time a new Court is elected are not permissible), as it is responsible for doing with all governmental policies.
The Court does not believe, however, that precedent may be overturned sua sponte (unilaterally, at the Court's discretion, without an action being brought), nor do we believe that precedent may be disregarded unless it is conclusively overturned. We furthermore believe that a heightened standard of review must be followed when reviewing the decisions of a previous Court, out of respect and deference to the law as established by our predecessors. Should it come to pass that precedent must be overturned, this Court believes that that decision must only be made after all legal alternatives have been examined, and must be done in as transparent and explanatory a fashion as possible.
The Court may overturn its prior rulings, but must do so in response to a new request as a result of some factual evolution (not simply a request to "look again"), and must do so concurrent with the publication of its reasoning in doing so. The Court must avoid disregarding precedent wherever possible, but cannot, in the interests of justice and fairness, be irrefutably bound by precedent regardless of the consequences.

The Court opines the following:

Regarding the ruling being made sua sponte:
The Court believes that in order to answer the question of whether accepting Lord Ravenclaw's Request for Review was legal, it must have considered the question of whether reviewing the matter and issuing a ruling in the first place would have been proper and in-line with precedent, and therefore the ruling was not issued sua sponte. It may not have answered the petitioner's original question, but it answered an underlying question that the court was required to decide first.

Regarding the ruling being made as a majority decision with an absence:
The Court also acknowledges that there was an additional question on the ability of the Court to issue a ruling when one of its justices or hearing officers is not present during drafting or voting. When the ruling "On the Suppression of Posts on the Regional Message Board" was issued, Flemingovia noted that Punk Daddy had been absent during drafting and did not cast a vote, and was counted as abstaining. Therefore, there was an apparent precedent for Abbey and Plembobria to do the same when Yalkan was absent. With Plembobria joining the decision that is being challenged here, the Court issued the ruling.

This is in conflict with the previously cited clauses of the Legal Code that make it clear that an absent Justice or Hearing Officer must be replaced, and that the remaining Justices must promptly appoint a replacement from available citizens. Abbey and Plembobria failed to do so. There will no doubt be questions as to how long someone should be absent before being declared so, but the Court believes that should an absence be declared when there isn't one, the supposedly absent member should be able to reassert their place on the panel should it be demonstrated that there was in fact no legitimate absence.

However, the Court also recalls instances in 2012 where there were cases in which Justice Hileville issued a ruling shortly after another justice joined the decision, marking the remaining justice as abstaining if there was no prompt reply. For example, In "On the Scope of Clause 9 of the Bill of Rights", Hileville posted the ruling two days after Blue Wolf II joined the decision and there was no reply from Funkadelia. Funkadelia had not abandoned the office, and there's no indication that Funkadelia had gone absent; there was just no timely reply. The ruling issued by Abbey and Plembobria could have been issued under the same circumstances had Abbey not confessed that Yalkan had gone absent. Since the definition of an absent justice or hearing officer is unclear and since past decisions have been issued with a majority vote, this Court finds no reason to declare that Court officially did not consist of three members at that time and therefore set aside the decision for that reason.

Regarding "exceptional circumstances":
The Court disagrees with the previous ruling that only under exceptional circumstances can the Court be reviewed. With no clear definition of "exceptional circumstances," the Court would be free to raise such standards to dismiss a case through the use of whatever criteria it felt was necessary to do so. It could also lower the same to accept a case that ordinarily wouldn't be under the concept of "exceptional circumstances." Even the oft-cited ruling on the Nature of Precedent and the Scope of the Court's Powers failed to adequately define its own concept of "heightened standards," leaving the definition to be decided by the Court arbitrarily. While this Court agrees that a request to simply "look again" because a petitioner or the Attorney General's office was unhappy with the result should be rejected, whenever there is the possibility that the court was not in compliance with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Legal Code, overturned precedent without explanation, or if there is new evidence uncovered that might impact a past ruling, a review would be warranted.

Therefore, the ruling in regards to the judicial inquiry filed by SillyString on the ability of the Court to review RA proposals is set aside, and having previously accepted SillyString's inquiry, the Court is ordered to reconsider the matter.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on March 11, 2018.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On Court Review of RA Proposals
Opinion drafted by THO Crushing Our Enemies, joined by Justice Lord Lore and THO Sil Dorsett, with Chief Justice Scorch and Justice Zyvetskistaahn recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by SillyString.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by SillyString.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Clean Land.

The Court took into consideration the legal briefs filed here and here by Zyvetskistaahn.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Barbarossistan.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Constitution:
1. The Court will try all criminal cases, resolve conflicts or ambiguities in the law, and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies by request of an affected party.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Court ruling "On the Validity of a Previous Ruling":
The Court disagrees with the previous ruling that only under exceptional circumstances can the Court be reviewed. With no clear definition of "exceptional circumstances," the Court would be free to raise such standards to dismiss a case through the use of whatever criteria it felt was necessary to do so. It could also lower the same to accept a case that ordinarily wouldn't be under the concept of "exceptional circumstances." Even the oft-cited ruling on the Nature of Precedent and the Scope of the Court's Powers failed to adequately define its own concept of "heightened standards," leaving the definition to be decided by the Court arbitrarily. While this Court agrees that a request to simply "look again" because a petitioner or the Attorney General's office was unhappy with the result should be rejected, whenever there is the possibility that the court was not in compliance with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Legal Code, overturned precedent without explanation, or if there is new evidence uncovered that might impact a past ruling, a review would be warranted.

Therefore, the ruling in regards to the judicial inquiry filed by SillyString on the ability of the Court to review RA proposals is set aside, and having previously accepted SillyString's inquiry, the Court is ordered to reconsider the matter.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Court ruling "On the Nature of Precedent and the Scope of the Court's Powers":
If, however, the statement is interpreted differently, to point out the inherent contradiction in the Court's power to review all government policies and decisions except its own (despite the Court being itself a part of the government), then we wholeheartedly agree with the stated proposition. The Court believes COE's intent was such, and holds that, as specifically mandated by that Article, the Court is obliged to review its own decisions should the need arise (and a proper request be made - arbitrary requests for review every time a new Court is elected are not permissible), as it is responsible for doing with all governmental policies. If, as we suspect, that was COE's meaning, then this Court wholeheartedly agrees, with some caveats, as discussed below.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Court ruling on Standing and the Definition of Affected Party:
The Court opines that an affected party, with respect to one’s the ability to request judicial review, is someone who reasonably perceives that their rights have been infringed through action or inaction undertaken by a governmental body or bodies. An affected party also include those affected, adversely or otherwise, by laws passed by the regional assembly and policies enacted by the executive and judicial branches of government.
The Court opines the following:

The Court is in the unusual position of ruling for a second time on a single request for review. In the most recently published court ruling "On the validity of a previous ruling", the Court's original ruling on this request was wholly overturned, and it has been ordered that the request be reconsidered. In the same ruling, it was determined that a review of a court action is warranted "whenever there is the possibility that the court was not in compliance with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Legal Code." Since, in this situation, the petitioner cites portions of the Consitution and Bill of Rights that may have plausibly been violated by the court action being reviewed, the court must rule on the question.

The Court finds that Justice Scorch's action in accepting the request for review filed by Lord Ravenclaw on November 28, 2017 violates Article 5, Clause 1 of the Constitution, because the object of the request (namely, a proposal before the Regional Assembly) is neither a law, a goverment policy, nor a government action.

The ability to make a proposal to the Regional Assembly is afforded to every citizen in The North Pacific, and thus, when a citizen makes such a proposal, they are not acting as a government official, but as a private citizen. Even if they were to hold a government office at the time they make a proposal, they cannot be considered to be acting in their capacity as a government official. Exceptions may possibly be made for situations in which the ability to make certain proposals is restricted to government officials (e.g. the Delegate proposing a treaty, or the Vice Delegate presenting the Security Council's nomination of a potential new member). In all other cases, however, making a proposal is not considered an action made by a government official.

Furthermore, a proposal before the RA cannot be considered a law or a government policy until it is enacted. The Court is a reactive body, and both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution Article 5, Clause 1 preclude the Court from ruling on something that hasn't actually happened yet, such as potential violation of rights that might be done if a proposal becomes a law.

This decision does not apply solely to requests to review proposals of the Regional Assembly. More broadly, the Court finds that justices are prohibited by the Constitution from accepting a request for review of anything that is not a law, government policy, or government action. When a justice does so, the Court ought to find in their ruling that the object of the request is not within the scope of their review power, and decline to rule on it. To streamline this process, it may be adviseable for the Court to amend the Court Rules and Procedures to allow the Attorney General to appeal decisions of an individual justice to the full Court in a request for review. Currently, only the petitioner has the power to appeal, and they would naturally be disinterested in appealing a decision to accept the request that they themselves have made.

In this particular case, since Lord Ravenclaw has withdrawn their request, no further action by the Court is required to correct the situation.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on March 22, 2018.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Freedom of Information Act and Off-forum Content
Opinion drafted by Justice Eluvatar and Chief Justice SillyString, joined by THO Owenstacey

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by St George.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Artemis.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:


9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:

Section 7.5: Freedom of Information Act

31. For the purposes of this section "the government" refers to the Delegate and the Executive Officers, including the departments which they oversee.
32. For the purposes of this section, classified information is that which fits any of the below definitions:
  • Real life information about any NationStates player from which there is a risk of inferring that player's real life identity and which has not willingly been disclosed to the public, including, but not limited to, an individual's name, IP address, physical address or location, phone number, place of employment or education, appearance, social media accounts, and other knowledge about a player, unless the player in question provides explicit consent for this information not to be considered private.
  • Real life information about any NationStates player for which there exists a reasonable real life expectation of privacy or discretion, including, but not limited to, health status, both mental and physical; financial status; personal tragedies; changes in personal status such as marriage, divorce, pregnancy, birth, or death; and other similar information, unless the player in question provides explicit consent for this information not to be considered private.
  • Information that, upon being made public, would jeopardize any ongoing military or intelligence operations; or jeopardize the security of units and agents participating in them, or be harmful to the diplomatic interests, military interests, or security of The North Pacific.
33. Notwithstanding any process for publication, any information which meets the criteria to be classified will not be released.
34. Private government records which reach one year of age will be relocated to the appropriate Declassified Archive visible to residents.
35. At any time a resident may request the release of any private record from the Government through the Delegate and the designated officers of the Executive.
36. The Delegate and the designated officers of the Executive will retrieve information requested from the different departments of the government.
37. Residents who do not receive this information for any reason not specifically designated in appropriate laws or regulations may file a request for the information to the court, where the Delegate and the designated officers of the Executive may present evidence that addresses any claim that release of the information meets one or more of the acceptable acceptable criteria for classification.
38. Information appropriately not disclosed will be accepted as classified by a majority vote of the Court sitting as a three-member panel.

The Court took into consideration its ruling on the meaning of "private citizen" with respect to the Freedom of Information Act
It is the status of the author and not the topic which determines whether a post is subject to FOIA. So long as the author is speaking in their capacity as an executive official, the law applies.

The Court expands on the above by issuing the following additional rulings:

First, the Court states that all posts made within areas of the forum which normally grant posting privileges only to members of the executive - excluding administrators and moderators from consideration - are inherently made in the author's capacity as an executive official. Such posts cannot be considered non-governmental. Posts which are made in areas of the forum more accessible to the public may be ruled non-governmental if such a determination is merited by their content and context.

The Court opines the following:

On Standing in this Inquiry

The Court has determined that St George does have the standing to bring this request for review. The Freedom of Information Act implements the fundamental principle of transparency as laid out in the bill of rights, and mandates proactive disclosure of non-private information by the executive branch so that the public can scrutinize its doings. By failing to release information as required, the executive prevents the public from performing this critical oversight. Any resident thus has a possible claim that their right to democracy, accountability, and transparency has been violated when they believe a broad failure to release has occurred.

On the Scope of the Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act states that “private government records” are subject to release upon reaching a certain age, or upon request from a resident. It does not limit its scope to only content located on the official forum of The North Pacific. The term “private record” is not explicitly defined, but it is implicitly contrasted with declassified archives that are “visible to residents”.

In its prior rulings on the Freedom of Information Act and the ownership of content, the Court made consistent references to “posts” in “areas of the forum”, rather than more generic references to any type of content. At the time the rulings were issued, Discord was not in use by the region, and the vast majority of government business was conducted on the official forum. It was also regular practice by government officials at that time to post transcripts of any official IRC chats that occurred into the relevant areas of the forum to maintain a formal record of proceedings. Additionally, the requests for review that led to these rulings were made in reference to specific topics and posts on the official forum - they were not requests to determine, more broadly, the media to which FOIA applied.

The Court therefore rules that the Freedom of Information Act applies to any platform on which TNP government business is conducted.

On the Ownership of Content

In light of the above decision, the Court has examined its prior rulings on this subject to determine if they still apply, or if any further clarifications are necessary. In its rulings on content ownership and the meaning of “private citizen”, the court stated:

As an additional finding, on the matter of ownership, the Court holds that the author of a post owns its content, and posts made while acting in one's capacity as a government official are owned, more broadly, by the respective branch of government within which that capacity falls.
So long as the author is speaking in their capacity as an executive official, the law applies.
First, the Court states that all posts made within areas of the forum which normally grant posting privileges only to members of the executive - excluding administrators and moderators from consideration - are inherently made in the author's capacity as an executive official. Such posts cannot be considered non-governmental. Posts which are made in areas of the forum more accessible to the public may be ruled non-governmental if such a determination is merited by their content and context.

The Court therefore issues the following clarifications to the above rulings:
  1. The author of any message, not just of a forum post, owns its content, and any messages written while acting in one’s capacity as a government official are owned by the respective branch of government within which that capacity falls.
  2. All messages made within spaces that normally only grant access privileges to members of the executive - excluding administrators and moderators from consideration - are inherently written in the author’s capacity as an executive official. Such messages cannot be considered non-governmental. Messages written in spaces that are more accessible to the public may be ruled non-governmental if such a determination is merited by their content and context.
  3. For the purposes of FOIA, as specified in clause 31, posts made by members of the executive staff within executive spaces are considered to be owned by the executive department they are part of, and therefore by the executive as a whole.
Case thread
Ruling delivered March 1, 2019.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On Alterations to the Citizenship Oath
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice SillyString, joined by Justice Eluvatar and THO Owenstacey

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Gracius Maximus.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Gracius Maximus, and the clarification submitted here.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by bootsie.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Artemis.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Crushing Our Enemies.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:

1. All Nations of The North Pacific are sovereign. Each Nation has the right of self-determination in that Nation's domestic policies, including, but not limited to, issue selection and WA membership.

2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.

5. All Nations of The North Pacific have the right to be protected against the abuse of powers by any official of a government authority of the region. Any Nation of The North Pacific has the right to request the recall of any official of a government authority of the region in accordance with the Constitution, that is deemed to have participated in such acts.

9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Section 6.1: Citizenship Applications
2. Any resident may apply for citizenship using their regional forum account, by providing the name of their nation in The North Pacific, and swearing an oath as follows:
I pledge loyalty to The North Pacific, obedience to her laws, and responsible action as a member of her society. I pledge to only register one nation to vote in The North Pacific. I pledge that no nation under my control will wage war against the North Pacific. I understand that if I break this oath I may permanently lose my voting privileges. In this manner, I petition the Speaker for citizenship in The North Pacific.
3. A copy of the laws applicants are pledging to obey must be available to them at all times.
4. An application for citizenship ceases to be valid if at any time the applicant's declared nation in The North Pacific is not located in The North Pacific.
5. Forum administration will have 14 days to evaluate the citizenship applicant and verify that they are not using a proxy or evading a judicially-imposed penalty. The Vice Delegate will have 3 days to perform a security evaluation and pass or fail the applicant. The Vice Delegate must consult the Security Council if there is reasonable concern as to whether an applicant should be admitted.
6. The Speaker will reject applicants who fail an evaluation by either forum administration or the Vice Delegate.
7. If an applicant is rejected for failing an evaluation by the Vice Delegate, the Regional Assembly shall immediately debate the rejection and will hold a majority vote on whether to uphold it. The vote must begin two days after the rejection occurs.
8. The Regional Assembly may overturn a previous decision to uphold the rejection of an applicant by majority vote.
9. The Speaker will accept all other applicants with valid applications.
10. The Speaker will process applications within 14 days. If an applicant has not been approved or rejected within that time, they will be automatically granted citizenship.
The Court took into consideration the previous version of the citizenship oath:
I, the leader of The North Pacific nation of [INSERT YOUR TNP NATION], pledge loyalty to The North Pacific, obedience to her laws, and responsible action as a member of her society. I pledge to only register one nation to vote in The North Pacific. I pledge that no nation under my control will wage war against the North Pacific. I understand that if I break this oath I may permanently lose my voting privileges. In this manner, I petition the Speaker for membership in the Regional Assembly of the North Pacific.
The Court opines the following:

On Standing in this Inquiry

The Court has determined that Gracius Maximus does have the standing to bring this request for review. As an individual denied citizenship by the Speaker, Gracius Maximus was unquestionably directly personally affected by the Speaker's actions and this case hinges on the question of whether his rights, specifically, have been violated by these actions. Any person who believes they have been wrongfully denied citizenship by the Speaker would have the standing to request a review of the legality of that denial.

On Violation of the Right to Set Domestic Policy

The petitioner has stated that being required to take the citizenship oath as written and not being permitted to alter the it to include his identifier of choice violates his right under Article 1 of the Bill of Rights to set domestic policy in his nation.

The Court does not agree. Article 1 protects only those decisions and actions taken by a nation on the NationStates website which affect its tracked statistics, or its appearance or description when being viewed. It does not protect interactions between nations or between players, whether that be via in-game telegram, on the Regional Message Board, or on an external platform, as those cease to be "domestic".

On Violation of the Right to Free Speech

The petitioner has also argued that being required to take the citizenship oath as written and not being permitted to alter the it to include his identifier of choice violates his right under Article 2 of the Bill of Rights to free speech.

The Court does not agree. As is stated in the brief submitted by the Speaker, the Petitioner is free to self-identify as he feels proper and necessary within his post applying for citizenship, so long as such identification is done outside the specific text of the oath. The Court does not find that this small restriction on the location of one's identifier constitutes an infringement of a nation's right to free speech, as that speech remains free to occur.

On Alteration of the Citizenship Oath

The fundamental question before the Court is whether the oath of citizenship must be taken exactly as it appears in the Legal Code, or if alterations to its content to allow for personal identification can be permitted.

The section of the Legal Code which deals with citizenship applications defines the specific oath that must be sworn, and does not make any allowance for oaths that are textually distinct but functionally identical. Additionally, in examining the rights granted to all nations by the Bill of Rights, the Court has found nothing which requires an alternate oath to be permitted or accepted by the Speaker.

Therefore, the Court finds that alterations to the oath cannot be permitted, and that they render the oath, and thus the application for citizenship, invalid. The Attorney General's brief lays out a succinct argument for why this must be the case. Permitting applicants to change the text would force the Speaker to adjudicate the fine line of what is and is not a valid identifier, or what qualifies as a change to the content of the oath that alters its meaning. It is also quite likely that, when the holder of the office changes, so too will the Speaker's interpretation of what is permitted. There is too great a risk that permitting the Speaker to make a judgement call on the content of the citizenship oath will result in unequal treatment under the law.

On Violation of Fair and Equal Treatment

Finally, the petitioner has stated that the Speaker has violated his right to fair and equal treatment under the Bill of Rights due to inconsistency in accepting and denying citizenship oaths whose texts have been altered from that which was set out in the law.

In reviewing the evidence presented, the Court firmly agrees with the petitioner. His right to fair and equal treatment has been violated, and so has that of other nations who submitted altered citizenship oaths in their applications. Accepted or denied, they have not been treated equally.

The Attorney General is absolutely correct that the scale of this unequal treatment is beyond the power of the Speaker to remedy. Establishing a policy now and enforcing it consistently going forward would not address prior missteps, and would not change the citizenship status of anyone who has it and should not, or who does not have it and should.

However, the Court does have the power to alleviate some of the iniquity. In accordance with precedent set on the question of continued citizenship of Treize Dreizehn, we find that the citizenship previously granted to individuals who altered the text of their oaths is valid. They may continue to be counted as citizens, entitled to all of the rights and privileges afforded to any other citizen under our laws until and unless they lose citizenship by normal legal processes.

Additionally, we find it necessary to address the validity of the oaths these citizens took. Although the Court has found that alterations to the oath render it invalid, we also believe it would do irreparable harm to rule that altered oaths which have heretofore been taken and accepted are invalid and not legally binding. Such a move would introduce iniquity between citizens who swore the correct oath, and who could therefore be prosecuted for Gross Misconduct, and those who did not and therefore could not.

Based on the evidence the court has reviewed as part of this request, the majority of incorrect oaths appear to be unintentional - likely copied, or based on, an earlier legal version of the current oath. Therefore, we extend the principle of good faith that was established in the ruling on Treize Dreizehn's citizenship. Those citizens who took an incorrect oath are granted the presumption of having acted in good faith, of having intended to swear the correct oath but making a simple mistake. As such, they will also be presumed to be bound by the correct oath as it stood in the law at the time of the citizen's admittance.

However, the court cannot categorically determine that there are no current citizens who specifically intended to swear an incorrect oath and did not intend to be bound by the correct citizenship oath, but who were nevertheless granted citizenship. Accordingly, the court will allow 60 days for any citizen who swore an incorrect oath to reject the presumption of good faith that has been afforded to them, and to petition the Court to release them from the obligations of the citizenship oath. Anybody released from the oath in this fashion will simultaneously forfeit their citizenship. The Speaker, or any individual authorized to act on their behalf, must contact the citizens affected by this ruling and advise them of their right to relinquish citizenship.

On The Speaker's Responsibility and Authority to Determine a Valid Oath

The Speaker and their designees are expected to accept valid applications not rejected by forum administration or the Vice Delegate. This language necessitates they determine the validity of applications, and not blindly grant citizenship to anybody who posts anything in the application thread.

The Speaker is therefore instructed to accept applications only if they contain the citizenship oath exactly as specified under the law. Further, the Speaker is instructed to reject any application which contains text that clearly indicates an intention not to abide by the oath, or by which the applicant makes clear that they are not swearing the oath or applying for citizenship.

On Duality

Lastly, the petitioner has raised the idea of multiple accounts, nations, or identities belonging to a single player being treated differently based on the phrasing used in swearing the citizenship oath. The Court wishes to make clear that the use of “the leader of” in a citizenship application does not mean that the oath applies only to the actions taken by that specific nation. Any player bound by the laws of The North Pacific is not released from their legal obligations solely by acting under another name or capacity.

Case thread
Ruling delivered March 2, 2019.
 
Last edited:
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Delegate's Authority to Staff the Executive Branch
Opinion drafted by Justice SillyString, joined by Justice Bootsie, with Chief Justice Eluvatar dissenting

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by abc.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Crushing our Enemies.

The Court took into consideration the answer to a question from the court filed here by Darcania.

The Court took into consideration the answer to a question from the court filed here by Pallaith.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 3:
1. The Delegate will be the head of state and government of The North Pacific and hold the in-game position of delegate.
8. The Delegate may appoint executive officers to assist them and may dismiss these officers freely. Executive officers may be regulated by law.
Article 7:
2. Government officials are the constitutionally-mandated elected officials, any officials appointed by them as permitted by law, and members of the Security Council.
3. The executive category consists of the Delegate, Vice Delegate, Attorney General, and government officials appointed by government officials in the executive category.
8. All government officials will swear an oath of office. The content of these oaths will be determined by law and be legally binding.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:
2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Chapter 4 Section 4.1:
1. All government officials will take the Oath of Office below before assuming their role within the government of The North Pacific.

I, [forum username], do hereby solemnly swear that during my term as [government position], I will uphold the ideals of Democracy, Freedom, and Justice of The Region of The North Pacific. I will use the powers and rights granted to me through The North Pacific Constitution and Legal Code in a legal, responsible, and unbiased manner, not abusing my power, committing misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, in any gross or excessive manner. I will act only in the best interests of The North Pacific, not influenced by personal gain or any outside force, and within the restraints of my legally granted power. As such, I hereby take up the office of [government position], with all the powers, rights, and responsibilities held therein.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its ruling on the Suppression of Posts on the Regional Message Board:
In this case, it is clear from testimony and reading the suppressed posts in context that technically Eluvatar abridged DD’s right to free speech. It is also clear that this was in the context of banter back and forth, playing the game, shooting the breeze etc.

What bewilders us is quite why the courts were asked to get involved. I mean, I know we are sad individuals living in our parents’ basement who badly need to get laid but instead play NS obsessively, but surely some things are just too trivial even for us?

There was no harm; there was no foul.

The Court took into consideration its verdict in the case of The North Pacific v. The Democratic Republic of Tomb:
It is the Court's opinion that the Defendant's attempt to curtail the Complainant's criticisms of the NPA as a requirement to join constitutes a violation of the Bill of Rights, and is not justifiable. Having sworn an oath to uphold the Bill of Rights, the Defendant is guilty of violating that oath.
The Court opines the following:

On Standing and Scope in this Inquiry

When it granted this request for review, the Court had made a preliminary determination that abc did have the standing to bring the review. As someone who believes that their right to free speech was violated, abc was unquestionably directly personally affected by the matter. Any nation of TNP who believes their right to free speech was violated would be similarly directly personally affected, and should have the opportunity to seek restoration from the Court.

However, as the Court examined the specific nature of the request for review, we determined that we are unable to answer the specific question that abc posed - namely, whether Pallaith specifically violated abc's freedom of speech. There are two reasons why this is the case.

First, the Court is concerned that a finding that the delegate had violated a nation's right to free speech would unfairly prejudice any potential future criminal trial for misconduct. Such a ruling would presume the delegate's guilt, and limit the valid avenues for the defense to pursue when countering the criminal charge. They would not be able to present evidence or make the case that free speech was not restricted, as that determination had already been set in stone. As the Attorney General quite rightly pointed out, this would be a serious violation of Pallaith's rights to a fair and impartial trial before being convicted of a crime.

Second, the Court has realized that the information it would need in order to make any determination about whether abc's freedom of speech was violated is not of a nature easily obtained during the course of a request for review. For example, he presented screenshots of his conversation with the delegate of 10000 Islands - but there are no procedures for establishing the validity of such submissions in a request for review, nor in determining whether their contents were known to the delegate or played any part in their actions to remove abc from the foreign affairs ministry and as a Gameside Advocate. There are many more examples we could provide, but the ultimate conclusion is that the Court, as a body, is not equipped or empowered to interrogate people or seek out evidence for or against a particular side. Rather, that is the job of the prosecution and the defense in a criminal trial, in which the Court's role is to consider the evidence submitted and come to a determination about whether it is sufficient proof of a crime to convict.

The Court did look at previous requests for review where a violation of rights was found, such as its ruling that the right to fair and equal treatment under the law was violated for Gracius Maximus (and others) when his citizenship application was denied. However, there are some key differences in the situation under review that allowed such a determination to be made in that case. The rights violation in question was determined to be a result of changing policies that were inconsistently enforced over the course of several Speakers' terms, and the Court additionally held that none of the policies themselves were legally problematic - just the end result. Because the rights violation was institutional instead of individual, any attempt to prove criminal misconduct would still have had to establish that the specific Speaker or Deputy Speaker being prosecuted actually violated someone's rights.

Therefore, in this case, the Court has determined that it can provide a ruling of modified scope. Namely, we will not rule on whether Pallaith violated abc's right to free speech. However, we will rule on the extent of the delegate's authority to staff the executive branch and on the permits and limits of free speech as it relates to service in government office. Any specific allegations that the delegate violated someone's rights through exercising this power can, if necessary, be settled via a criminal trial.


On the Authority to Appoint and Dismiss Executive Officers
The Constitution grants extremely broad power to the delegate when it comes to staffing the executive branch. There are no limits placed on the number or types of executive officers, so long as their role is to assist the delegate in the execution of their duties, and it additionally states that the delegate may dismiss such executive officers "freely".

Neither the Constitution nor the Legal Code make any mention of restricting such dismissals to instances that can or need be justified. At no point is the delegate required to prove incompetence, or inactivity, or irreconcilable differences in order to remove an official who, in the delegate's opinion, should no longer continue to serve. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for the Court to undermine the intent of the Constitution and restrict the delegate's power to appoint or dismiss executive officers, or to require that cause for any dismissal be presented.

The only restriction, implicit in the law, is that the delegate may not exercise this (or any) power in a way which violates the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, or the Legal Code. For example, because the Bill of Rights protects a nation's right to self-determination in membership in the World Assembly, it would not be a legal exercise of their power to dismiss an executive officer simply for not being a member of the WA. Similarly, because the Bill of Rights protects the free expression of religion, the delegate could not make professing the Flemingovian faith a condition for appointment as an executive officer. However, the delegate is free to dismiss an executive officer for saying something that gives the delegate doubts about their competence, judgment, or capacity to do their job.

On the Authority to Control Membership in the Executive Staff
While the law gives broad authority to the Delegate when it comes to appointing and dismissing executive officers, it makes no mention of the executive staff - private individuals who serve in various capacities in the executive ministries, but who do not hold government positions or wield government power. Most often, membership in the executive staff for a particular ministry has been determined by its minister, without specific input from the delegate on a regular basis. However, because the law specifies that the ministers assist the delegate in their duties, the logical conclusion is that the delegate does have the legal authority to make decisions about who can serve in each ministry's executive staff.

Unlike executive officers, the executive staff are not government officials. This is an important distinction: They take no oath of office, and their existence is not legally predicated on assisting the delegate with the execution of their duties. They are, in fact, not established in the law at all - the idea of the executive staff as a body was invented by a prior delegate and retained by all subsequent ones. At this time, it serves as a key pathway for new residents and citizens to become involved in the region, to gain experience, and to rise to prominence. It is, in sum, a vital pipeline for regional and personal growth. It is therefore undeniable that, if someone were barred from participating in any part of the executive staff, their ability to participate fully in the region and to make use of the rights and freedoms they are afforded would be curtailed.

As such, the Court determines that the delegate's power - and, accordingly, the power of their ministers - to determine who may be a member of the executive staff is somewhat more limited than the power to determine who may be an executive officer.To be clear, the delegate can decide that an individual may not be part of any executive staff. However, such determinations should be based on some sort of misconduct by the barred individual (not on personal disagreements, prior inactivity, or other more mundane issues) and should be proportional to the misconduct that occurred.

The delegate is also free to abolish the executive staff, if they were to determine that it no longer best suited the needs of their ministries and of the region as a whole. Nothing in this section should be taken as requiring the existence of the executive staff, until and unless such existence is mandated by law. But insofar as it or any other executive body exists, executive officials may not violate the rights of TNP nations in determining who may and may not participate.

On the Freedom of Speech of Government Officials
The Bill of Rights protects nations' freedom of speech, and the right to question and criticize the regional government, without fear of retribution. This protection includes the right not to be threatened or punished for exercising that right. In TNP v. The Democratic Republic of Tomb, the Court found that as Delegate, Tomb had violated Flemingovia's rights to free speech by making his admission to the NPA conditional on refraining from parody songs mocking that institution. This was a clear attempt to prevent Flemingovia from engaging in public criticism and questioning of the TNP government, something that, as a private citizen, he has the right to do.

However, the situation is less straightforward when it comes to the dual voices of government officials. As nations and citizens of The North Pacific, government officials retain the right to criticize the actions of the government and to demand accountability and transparency in the actions of the various government bodies. And taking retribution against individuals who happen to be government officials for exercising that right is not permitted under the law, and should not be tolerated in an open and democratic society. For example, it would be a violation of the law for the delegate to fire one of their ministers simply because that minister disagreed with a decision made by the Election Commission and challenged it publicly.

But government officials do not speak only with their individual voice. They also, at times, wield governmental power, and speak with the authority of one of the branches of government. The Moderating Justice in a criminal trial speaks with the voice of the Court. The Foreign Affairs Minister, when negotiating a treaty with their counterpart in another region, speaks with the voice of the Executive. When speaking with these voices, government officials do not enjoy the blanket protections of freedom of speech, and their words may be enjoined by law or by someone with authority over them. The Delegate can instruct their Foreign Affairs minister on what provisions may be included in a treaty, or prohibit that minister from bringing up a personal grievance during negotiations - and they can remove the minister from office if their instructions are not followed. If the Court determines that a defendant is not guilty, the Moderating Justice cannot state that they have instead been found guilty - and the remaining Justices can publicly correct and overrule them if they try. A Security Councilor cannot unilaterally decide that a nation in the region is a security threat and threaten to ban them. In sum, government officials are subject to the oversight of their branch and of any superior official within that branch, and have no protections for engaging in official speech or actions that contravene such oversight.

There is an exception to the above ruling: government officials are not required to commit misconduct, no matter what instructions they are given, and they may not be punished for refusing to violate the law or for alerting the Attorney General about illegal activity within any branch of government.

On the Freedom of Speech Abroad
In his initial request, the petitioner stated that he was removed from the Foreign Affairs ministry and as a Gameside Advocate for "for using the RMB to voice my concerns about an embassy region." From what the Court could determine from the request and the briefs that were presented, such concerns were voiced solely on the RMB of the allied region, and none on TNP's RMB. This raises the question of how far a nation's freedom of speech extends outside of TNP, something which the Attorney General's brief also considered.

The freedom of speech is specifically granted to nations of The North Pacific. It therefore follows that nations that are not in The North Pacific are not afforded this protection. This includes embassy posting on the regional message board, forum posting by diplomats from other regions, and other similar types of speech. It also includes, as in the Attorney General's example, interactions outside of TNP between people who also happen to have TNP nations, but where no consequences result within TNP. If a delegate of another region bans someone from that region, or fires them from a role, such actions and speech are outside of the jurisdiction of our laws even when both parties are also members of TNP, and even when such actions would not be permitted if they occurred within TNP.

As for TNP nations speaking outside of the borders of TNP, such nations do not lose the protections of the bill of rights simply because of where their speech happens to take place. However, the Court also notes that free speech is not consequence-free speech; in the same way that citizens might choose not to vote for someone who says things they find objectionable, someone's conduct abroad (or at home) can be considered when the delegate makes decisions about appointing or removing executive officials, or when those executive officials make decisions about adding or removing members of the executive staff. For example, TNP nations have the right, under the bill of rights, to insult our allies (so long as they do not break a platform's rules on flaming), but they may then be reasonably denied a position as an ambassador to those allies. Similarly, as the Attorney General argued, the Delegate can decline to appoint someone as a minister (or can remove them from office) over disagreements about how that ministry should be run. The minister retains the right to speak freely about their concerns and criticisms, both publicly and privately. However, executive officials do ultimately exist in order to carry out the delegate's vision and goals, and the delegate is free to replace a minister who they feel is not able to perform those duties adequately.

On the Court's Prior Ruling on the Suppression of Posts on the Regional Message Board
In 2015, the Court issued a ruling in response to a request for review on the suppression of posts on the RMB. In it, the Court said:

In this case, it is clear from testimony and reading the suppressed posts in context that technically Eluvatar abridged DD’s right to free speech. It is also clear that this was in the context of banter back and forth, playing the game, shooting the breeze etc.
[...]
There was no harm; there was no foul.
We hereby overturn this ruling in its entirety. The protection of free speech is enshrined in our Bill of Rights precisely because its suppression is inherently harmful, and the Court's conclusion that the delegate's actions occurred in the context of friendly banter is belied by the very fact that a request for review was filed at all. Additionally, as laid out above, this ruling risks violating Eluvatar's right to a fair trial by preemptively determining that he committed a rights violation without the chance to testify in his own defense. It also risks violating Democatic Donkeys' right to protection against abuse of power and the right to be heard, by preemptively determining that "no harm" was done in the violation of his rights without a chance for him to provide testimony of his own.

Case thread
Ruling delivered May 19, 2019.
Ruling partially overturned April 29, 2022.





Dissent from the Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Delegate's Authority to Staff the Executive Branch
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Eluvatar
I dissent as follows:

Note: I considered all the documents considered in the official opinion of the court except for the ruling on my suppression of Democatic Donkeys post on the Regional Message board as well as this portion of the Constitution:
Article 5:
1. The Court will try all criminal cases, resolve conflicts or ambiguities in the law, and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies by request of an affected party.

On Standing and Scope in this Inquiry

In granting this request for review, the Court made a preliminary determination that abc was an affected party and had standing. As someone who lost positions of responsibility and authority under the government of The North Pacific, abc was indeed an affected party.

The court is therefore obliged to answer whether the government policy, abc's removal from the Diplomatic Corps and the role of Gameside Advocate, is constitutional or legal.

Answering this question in the negative would not implicitly find the Delegate responsible, Pallaith, guilty of Gross Misconduct, for several reasons:
  1. Gross Misconduct is defined as breaking a legally sworn oath "either willfully or through negligence". This means either intentionally breaking the oath or taking an action that a reasonable person would expect to break the oath. Answering whether an policy is legal does not make any comment on intent or reasonable expectations.
  2. The Delegate's oath of office specifies they will act officially "in a legal, responsible, and unbiased manner, not abusing my power, committing misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, in any gross or excessive manner ... and within the restraints of [their] legally granted power." Answering simply that a policy is unconstitutional or illegal would not necessarily imply that it is "grossly" or "excessively" so.
  3. Under the Court's ruling on the nature of precedent and the scope of the Court's powers, the Court would be obliged to review this ruling should new evidence be presented, particularly in a criminal trial, which would put it under question. Thus the rights of Pallaith to a hypothetical fair trial would remain intact.
Furthermore, the appropriate answer to the question as given, with the available information presented, is that the Delegate's actions are constitutional. Therefore the question of Pallaith's rights to a fair trial need not surface.

Finally, any errors in the factual basis for the Court's answer to a request for review which would alter the answer given can be remedied through further information provided to further requests for review. Therefore a lack of certainty that the Court has all relevant information need not preclude giving an opinion regarding on the information available.

On Dicta

The Court is tasked with reviewing the constitutionality or legality of laws or policy by request of affected party. No part of that is optional. Nothing the Court opines in a review which is not in answer to the request for review is constitutional.

Therefore, when the Court opines that it cannot answer the question posed, that should be the end of the review.

On the Power to Staff the Executive Branch

In realizing the promise of our Bill of Right's protection and promotion of free speech, context matters. Freedom of speech is at its highest when a member of the region publishes their opinion on the regional offsite forum. It's not at its highest in diplomatic communications. It's even lower in military communications. Lowest still when speech is destructive toward other rights, such as deception which would disenfranchise recipients.

In this review, abc asks if it was permissible for the Delegate to expel them from the Diplomatic corps (the executive staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and dismiss them as Gameside Advocate in response to a message abc posted on another region's message board and telegrams exchanged by abc and that region, 10000 Islands', delegate.

If the Delegate were not able to dismiss members of the Foreign Affairs ministry who contradicted the Delegate's will in Foreign Affairs, the Delegate would be unable to fulfill their duties as head of government.

On the Freedom of Speech of Government Officials and Abroad

If the Court were answering the request for review as to whether the Delegate's actions were legal, I would agree with the opinions of the Court on the freedom of speech of government officials and abroad. However, as it didn't, I believe these parts of the ruling are dicta and should not be binding because it is not an answer to a request from an affected party. Declining to say that the Delegate's actions were legal but then saying that actions in categories that include them are is nonsense.

On the Court's Prior Ruling on the Suppression of Posts on the Regional Message Board

On the prior ruling against my action as Delegate I neither dissent from nor subscribe to the official opinion of the Court, as I believe I have a conflict of interest.
 
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Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Authentication of Images in Criminal Trials
Opinion drafted by THO Artemis, joined by THOs SillyString and Dreadton, with Chief Justice Zyvetskistaahn and Justices Lord Lore and Lady Raven Wing recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Deropia.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Zyvetskistaahn.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Vivanco.

The Court took into consideration the indictment filed
here by Dinoium.

The Court took into consideration the verdict issued in The North Pacific v. Whole India, found
here.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:

7. When charged with criminal acts, Nations of The North Pacific shall have a fair, impartial, and public trial before a neutral and impartial judicial officer. In any criminal proceeding, a Nation is presumed innocent unless guilt is proven to the fact finder by reasonably certain evidence. A Nation may be represented by any counsel of the Nation's choosing. No Nation convicted of a crime shall be subject to a punishment disproportionate to that crime.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Section 1.3: Fraud
12. "Fraud" is defined as an intentional deception, by falsehood or omission, made for some benefit or to damage another individual.

Chapter 2: Penal Code
1. Criminal acts may be punished by restrictions on basic rights, in a manner proportionate to the crime at the discretion of the Court unless specified in this chapter.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Court Rules and Procedures found here:
Section 3: Evidence
  1. The Court accepts both documentary evidence and witness testimony as valid submissions.
  2. Objections to evidence by either the Prosecution or the Defense must clearly explain why, in accordance with the Court Rules and general legal principles, the evidence in question should not be admitted into the court record.
  3. Relevant evidence may be admitted or excluded at the discretion of the Moderating Justice after hearing from both sides.
  4. Documentary evidence, which includes forum posts or threads, off-site chat logs, screenshots and other evidence of a similar nature, must be authenticated according to the criteria below:
    • Content which does not appear in its original form and location, such as off-site chat logs, screenshots, transcripts, or quotes, must be authenticated through witness testimony regardless of how public it is when it is presented as evidence.
    • Forum posts and threads may be accepted without authentication, as long as the Moderating Justice is provided with a direct link to the posts and threads entered into evidence and is able to view them in their original locations. The Moderating Justice must confirm that the evidence submitted does not contain any content that does not appear in the original location before accepting it without authentication.
    • Witness testimony is always an acceptable way to authenticate evidence.
    • The Moderating Justice may, when appropriate, waive authentication requirements for individual pieces of evidence. They must provide an explanation for doing so.

The Court opines the following:

On Standing in this Inquiry

The Court has determined that Deropia does have the standing to bring this request for review on behalf of Whole India. Whole India, as the defendant whose sentence is being challenged, has obvious and unassailable standing to raise concerns about impropriety in their own sentencing. Criminal defendants have the right to be represented by counsel during their trial, and that right to representation must necessarily extend to other issues raised with the court pertaining to that trial, even if they do not occur during the official trial process.

On the Authentication of Images Provided by Whole India

In the indictment of Whole India, the Deputy Attorney General stated a belief that the defendant had altered a message from Red Back, but did not include a copy of this image in their filing. However, the Deputy Attorney General did include several other pieces of evidence in the indictment, and one was stated to be a screenshot of the complete, unaltered telegram history between the two parties. During the course of the trial, Whole India introduced a separate piece of evidence in their defense - stated to be a screenshot of another telegram with Red Back, one not included by the prosecution.

Under Court Rules and Procedures, both images were required to be authenticated by witness testimony in order to be admitted to the court record. Red Back was deposed and asked to authenticate the prosecution’s image, which he did. He was also asked by the prosecution to authenticate one of the two images provided by the defendant, which he did not do. During the time when Red Back’s deposition was occurring, the Moderating Justice asked several questions of the defendant, apparently in an effort to understand the discrepancies between Red Back’s testimony and Whole India’s image.

However, questions by the Moderating Justice are not an acceptable way of authenticating, or failing to authenticate, any piece of evidence. The Court Rules and Procedures require that witness testimony occur via deposition or statement, and that both must be preceded by an oath from the witness. Moreover, statements must be sent directly to the Moderating Justice, while depositions must occur in a separate thread from the main trial and be conducted via questioning by both the defense and the prosecution. The Moderating Justice is certainly not prevented from asking questions of either party during a trial - however, such questions do not replace the formal process for authenticating evidence as laid out by the Court.

Whole India then pled guilty to the charge of Fraud laid out in the initial indictment, before any further authentication efforts could be undertaken, and before either they or Red Back could be properly questioned about discrepancies. Because Whole India’s images remained unauthenticated at this time, the only conclusion that this Court can draw is that they were never admitted into the trial record. In other words, for the purposes of the Court, the images must be treated as if they do not exist.

On the Materiality of the Unauthenticated Image

In his brief to the Court, Zyvetskistaahn notes, correctly, that the Court is granted wide leeway to determine an appropriate sentence in a criminal conviction. He also argues that although the unauthenticated images were taken into account when making such determination, they were only one factor and, by implication, made only a small contribution to the ultimate severity of the sentence.

However, as the Court has found that the images in question were not properly introduced as evidence and must be treated as nonexistent, it was incorrect for them to have been considered it at all when determining sentencing. Such an error is certainly material to the defendant, who must serve out any extra length on their sentence.

On Indictments and Guilty Pleas

Zyvetskistaahn argues that by pleading guilty, a defendant is granting that the charge laid out against them is true as stated. He goes on to say that when a defendant is accused of committing fraud by lying about receiving threats from another nation, it is illogical for the Court, or any party, to accept that the defendant is guilty of lying and also that such threats are real. The conclusion he draws is that by pleading guilty in this case, Whole India is necessarily admitting that the images introduced as evidence are false.

The Court agrees with Zyvetskistaahn’s arguments, but not with his conclusion. The charge that the defendant pled guilty to ("intentionally deceiving the public into believing a foreign dignitary warned them to suspend their campaign for the upcoming election in January") made no reference to the method in which such deception was attempted, and the evidence introduced by the Deputy Attorney General, as referenced above, likewise did not include any allegedly doctored images.

The Court concludes that while it is reasonable to find the defendant guilty of the acts alleged in the opening indictment, it is not reasonable to extrapolate more information, or more criminality, from a guilty plea than is actually being alleged. If there is any confusion about what acts, specifically, the defendant is confessing to committing, the Court should ask the defendant to clarify.

Conclusion

Due to the issues noted above, the sentence handed down to Whole India is vacated. We remand it back to the adjudicating Court for resentencing, with the stipulation that the Court is barred from exceeding the original sentence given to the defendant. The Court may not consider the veracity of any images that Whole India attempted to present in their defense when determining the defendant’s sentence.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on February 5, 2020.
 
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Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Regional Ban of Kirana
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Zyvetskistaahn, joined by Justices Lady Raven Wing and Wonderess

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Kirina.

The Court took into consideration the information filed here by Nessuno.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 3. The Delegate and Vice Delegate:
2. The Delegate may eject and ban nations from the region as permitted by law, and will eject or ban nations from the region when required by law.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:
8. The regional power of ejection and banning may not be granted or exercised, nor forum bans imposed, unless expressly authorized pursuant to the Constitution or the Legal Code. Any ejected or banned nation is entitled to prompt judicial review of the matter.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Section 7.3: Onsite Authority:
11. Violators of NationStates rules, or residents banned offsite by forum administration, may be subject to summary ejection or banning.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of NationStates rules:
Spam and the different types of it:
There are many types of spam, but the general definition is making a post that doesn't have any sort of use. Excessive bumping, tagging, and random posts with irrelevant information are all examples of spam. The same applies to in-game posts on regional message boards and telegrams.

[...]

Regional Message Board Spam: Posting multiple messages on your message board within a short period of time can be considered message board spam. Founders and regional officers they designate may suppress spam (or any other messages) on the regional message board.
The Court opines the following:

Standing

The petitioner brings a request for review seeking for their ban from the region by McMasterdonia, the Delegate, to be overturned.

The Court finds that the petitioner does have standing as an affected party to request this review. They are clearly adversely affected by being banned from the region by the Delegate, which is plainly a government action. Further, the Bill of Rights makes clear that judicial review is guaranteed for nations that are banned from the region.

Lawfulness of the Ban

The Bill of Rights restricts use of the regional power of banning to circumstances that are expressly authorised by the Constitution or the Legal Code. Provision has been made for the use of that power: the Delegate is empowered by the Constitution to eject and ban nations as permitted by law and the Legal Code sets out a range of scenarios in which ejection or banning would be permitted.

One such scenario is dealt with by Section 7.3, clause 11 of the Legal Code, which allows for the summary banning of nations that violate NationStates rules. In this matter, the petitioner states that the ban in question was due, at least in part, to spamming the regional message board, which accords with the public notice of the ban given by the Delegate as required by the Legal Code. The Court notes that the petitioner accepts that they engaged in spamming of the regional message board. The Court also notes that a series of posts on the regional message board have been referred to the Court by Nessuno, the Lead Gameside Advocate (a government official charged with assisting the Delegate in their duties regulating the regional message board), which demonstrates that a number of posts appear to have been made over a short period of time, including three posts in succession.

The Court has had regard to the relevant provisions of the NationStates rules concerning spam and the regional message board. Those rules seem clear that multiple messages over a short period of time can constitute regional message board spam. The Court has not heard argument on the test to utilise when considering alleged violations of NationStates rules and whether it is a matter that the Court should come to its own judgment on or whether some area of discretion should be afforded to the Delegate. In this case, it is not necessary for the Court to decide those issues. It appears to the Court that, whatever standard is used and whether it is for the Court to decide or whether there is a discretion in the Delegate, it is clear from the petitioner's request and the posts shown to the Court that the petitioner was in violation of NationStates rules concerning regional message board spam and, therefore, liable to be summarily banned. That ban was in compliance with the Legal Code and, consequently, authorised by both it and the Constitution, in satisfaction of the requirements of the Bill of Rights.

A second chance

The petitioner asks the Court to give them a second chance. They say that they have corrected their behaviour and will be a repentant and sincere member of the community if the ban is reversed. The Court does not consider that this is a matter that can properly be considered by the Court when deciding, as it must, the lawfulness of the decision to ban when it was made. It appears to the Court that the Delegate has taken a decision to ban the petitioner on grounds which were lawful and it is not for the Court to interfere with lawful decisions. Whether the Delegate would be minded to rescind the ban on the basis of what has been said by the petitioner or on other representations from the petitioner (or for any other reason) is, in the first instance at least, a matter for them.

Conclusion

The Court determines that the petitioner was lawfully banned by the Delegate for the reasons given above. There is no need for any order to be made by the Court.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on March 15, 2020.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Form of the Delegate's Oath
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Zyvetskistaahn, joined by Justices Wonderess and Lady Raven Wing

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Siwale.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Dreadton.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 3. The Delegate and Vice Delegate:
1. The Delegate will be the head of state and government of The North Pacific and hold the in-game position of delegate.
2. The Delegate may eject and ban nations from the region as permitted by law, and will eject or ban nations from the region when required by law.
3. The Delegate may negotiate treaties with foreign powers. No treaty will come into effect unless approved by a two-thirds majority vote of the Regional Assembly.
4. When a proposal of the Regional Assembly to enact, amend or repeal a law is passed, the Speaker shall promptly present it to the Delegate, and it shall take effect immediately upon their signature.
5. The Delegate may veto a proposal of the Regional Assembly to enact, amend or repeal a law within one week of its passage.
6. The Regional Assembly may override such a veto by a two-thirds majority vote, which shall cause a proposal to take immediate effect.
7. If a proposal of the Regional Assembly to enact, amend or repeal a law has not been signed or vetoed by the Delegate, it shall take effect seven days after being passed.
8. The Delegate may appoint executive officers to assist them and may dismiss these officers freely. Executive officers may be regulated by law.
9. The Vice Delegate will chair the Security Council and enforce the continued eligibility of its members as determined by law.
10.. The Vice Delegate will hold the second most endorsements in the region. The Delegate may eject or ban any nation which exceeds any legally mandated endorsement limit.
11. In the case of a vacancy or absence in the office of Delegate or Vice Delegate, the first available person in the line of succession will assume the duties of the vacated position. If a member of the line of succession assumes the duties of either position while serving in, or having assumed the duties of, any other constitutionally-mandated elected office, they will be considered absent from that office.
12. The Delegate and Vice Delegate will be elected by the Regional Assembly by a majority vote every four months. No person shall be elected Delegate to a full or partial term in three consecutive election cycles.
Article 4. The Court:
1. The Court will try all criminal cases and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies and actions.
2. Reviews of laws or government policies and actions must be made by request of an affected party unless there is a compelling regional interest in resolving it.
Article 6. General Provisions:
1. Constitutionally-mandated elected officials are the Delegate, Vice Delegate, Speaker, members of the Security Council, and Justices.
2. Government officials are the constitutionally-mandated elected officials, any officials appointed by them as permitted by law, and members of the Security Council.
3. The executive category consists of the Delegate, Vice Delegate, and government officials appointed by the Delegate or Vice Delegate.
[...]
8. All government officials will swear an oath of office. The content of these oaths will be determined by law and be legally binding.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:
2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Chapter 5: Regional Security Law:
3. In this chapter, the serving Delegate means the person holding the constitutionally-mandated elected office of Delegate or, in the case of a vacancy in that office, the person who has assumed the duties of that office.
Section 7.1: Definitions:
4. The Serving Delegate is the person holding the constitutionally-mandated elected office of the Delegate or, in the case of a vacancy in that office, the person that has assumed the duties of that office.
5. The WA Delegate is the nation holding the WA Delegacy of the region The North Pacific.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on Standing and the Definition of Affected Party:
The Court opines that an affected party, with respect to one’s the ability to request judicial review, is someone who reasonably perceives that their rights have been infringed through action or inaction undertaken by a governmental body or bodies. An affected party also include those affected, adversely or otherwise, by laws passed by the regional assembly and policies enacted by the executive and judicial branches of government.

The affected party must detail in their review request the rights they perceive have been violated and/or the laws put asunder showing a clear connection between the law and how they are personally affected in the situation.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on Election Commissioners Failing to Take Their Oaths:
Do actions taken by elected, appointed, or confirmed officials prior to their taking of the oath have legal force?

No. All government officials must take their oath prior to carrying out any actions in an official capacity. Any such actions taken prior to the swearing of the oath are invalid and hold no governmental authority. Depending on the nature of the actions, they could potentially also be illegal. For instance, if the individual banned a nation from the region before taking up an office that gave them the legal authority to do so, they could be subject to criminal charges.

Can an oath of office apply retroactively to actions taken after winning election, or being appointed?

Absolutely not. No oath under TNP law may apply retroactively. The oath of office becomes binding on an individual when they swear it and assume the position relating to that oath, just as it stops being binding when they cease to hold that position. The oath can neither criminalize misconduct, nor legitimize unofficial actions, from before it was sworn.

A government official cannot be found guilty of gross misconduct for violating the oath of office before they took it. And, by the same token, an election commissioner taking their oath after opening candidacy declarations cannot thereby give that thread legal standing.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Permanence of Rejected Applications for the Regional Assembly:
As for the specific case of Treize_Dreizehn, the Court rules that his original admission to the Regional Assembly was not lawful. However, over the past four months he has acted in nothing but good faith. He has been a productive member of the RA, has voted on legislation and run in elections, and has served admirably in the Attorney General's office. Should the Court rule that these associated posts, votes, and actions are ex post facto unlawful, legally speaking, it would simultaneously be required to order a recount of all such legislative, non-legislative, and electoral votes, as well as a review of all actions taken as a government official and, potentially, a reopening of voting for any election in which Treize was a candidate. Such alteration of accepted fact is neither practical, possible, nor permitted by the Bill of Rights.

Therefore, Treize_Dreizehn's membership in the Regional Assembly is not revoked. He may continue to serve as a full-fledged member, entitled to all of the rights and privileges afforded to any other member.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on Alterations to the Citizenship Oath:
The fundamental question before the Court is whether the oath of citizenship must be taken exactly as it appears in the Legal Code, or if alterations to its content to allow for personal identification can be permitted.

The section of the Legal Code which deals with citizenship applications defines the specific oath that must be sworn, and does not make any allowance for oaths that are textually distinct but functionally identical. Additionally, in examining the rights granted to all nations by the Bill of Rights, the Court has found nothing which requires an alternate oath to be permitted or accepted by the Speaker.

Therefore, the Court finds that alterations to the oath cannot be permitted, and that they render the oath, and thus the application for citizenship, invalid. The Attorney General's brief lays out a succinct argument for why this must be the case. Permitting applicants to change the text would force the Speaker to adjudicate the fine line of what is and is not a valid identifier, or what qualifies as a change to the content of the oath that alters its meaning. It is also quite likely that, when the holder of the office changes, so too will the Speaker's interpretation of what is permitted. There is too great a risk that permitting the Speaker to make a judgement call on the content of the citizenship oath will result in unequal treatment under the law.

[...]

However, the Court does have the power to alleviate some of the iniquity. In accordance with precedent set on the question of continued citizenship of Treize Dreizehn, we find that the citizenship previously granted to individuals who altered the text of their oaths is valid. They may continue to be counted as citizens, entitled to all of the rights and privileges afforded to any other citizen under our laws until and unless they lose citizenship by normal legal processes.

Additionally, we find it necessary to address the validity of the oaths these citizens took. Although the Court has found that alterations to the oath render it invalid, we also believe it would do irreparable harm to rule that altered oaths which have heretofore been taken and accepted are invalid and not legally binding. Such a move would introduce iniquity between citizens who swore the correct oath, and who could therefore be prosecuted for Gross Misconduct, and those who did not and therefore could not.

Based on the evidence the court has reviewed as part of this request, the majority of incorrect oaths appear to be unintentional - likely copied, or based on, an earlier legal version of the current oath. Therefore, we extend the principle of good faith that was established in the ruling on Treize Dreizehn's citizenship. Those citizens who took an incorrect oath are granted the presumption of having acted in good faith, of having intended to swear the correct oath but making a simple mistake. As such, they will also be presumed to be bound by the correct oath as it stood in the law at the time of the citizen's admittance.
The Court opines the following:

Standing

This is a request for review brought by Siwale concerning the oath sworn by McMasterdonia following the September 2019 general election. The question posed is whether that oath was valid, given McMasterdonia stated the position he was taking up as being “WA Delegate”.

Siwale suggests that he has standing on the basis that he is an affected party, as his article 9 right to a government organised on the principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency may have been infringed, given that the swearing of an invalid oath would bring into question the legitimacy of the Delegate during a time when he was resident in the region. The Court does not consider this is sufficient to meet the requirements of standing as an affected party.

The Court has previously held that a petitioner must show that there is a clear connection between the act, policy or law claimed to be illegal or unconstitutional and how they are personally affected. The infringement claimed by the petitioner in this request is not personal in any real sense, but could be claimed by a vast group of residents.

The petitioner argues, alternatively, that they should be allowed to bring the request on the basis that there is a compelling regional interest in resolving it. The Court does allow the request on that basis.

Though the Court is alive to the fact that this request relates to relatively technical point and notes that undue delay in bringing requests will lead to them being subject to scepticism as to whether there is truly a compelling regional interest, the Court is satisfied in this instance. That is because this case, fundamentally, raises questions as to the validity of the actions of the Delegate, the most powerful single official in our constitutional order, and, through them, those they have appointed, for the whole of a term and beyond. Though the petitioner states they do not wish for retrospective impact of the Court’s decision, and so presumably would not wish for the Court to invalidate any action taken, their wish cannot bind the Court, which is, instead, compelled by its constitutional duty to determine the legality of the specific action of swearing the oath, with any consequences that may bring. The result of that is that the gravity of this request, though technical and substantially delayed, is such as to engage the Court’s jurisdiction.

What the oath requires

The first question the Court must ask to determine whether the oath was sworn as required by law is to ask what the law requires.

The Court has held in relation to the citizenship oath that, where the law required that oath to be sworn, it had to be sworn as stated in the law. There was no provision for variation in the law and allowing variation would have placed an onerous burden on the Speaker to determine validity of oaths, given the potential consequences flowing from allowing oaths that subsequently transpired to be invalid.

Here, there is no question as to deviation from the ordinary wording of the oath, rather, the question is as to deviation in swearing a part of the oath that reads “[government position]”. However, similarly, there is no provision for variation in the position and it would be wrong to require citizens subject to government action or other government officials to have to determine whether deviation in the position stated is within a permissible degree. The consequence of this is that where the name of a position is clear in law, be that in the Constitution or the Legal Code, that name must be sworn without deviation and where a position has multiple names in law, any of them will suffice, provided there is no deviation from them. By contrast, for a position that has no set name in law and is generic in its nature, such as that of executive officers appointed by the Delegate whose role and powers the Delegate may determine, the oath, in relation to any given appointee, must swear the name of the position as specified in their appointment, which creates the position they occupy.

Delegate or WA Delegate

The second question, then, is what is the correct name for the position of Delegate.

The Constitution recognises a distinction between the office of Delegate in our constitutional system and the position of Delegate in-game. It is that distinction that is reflected by the provisions of the Legal Code, which draw a distinction between the “serving Delegate” and the “WA Delegate”, the former being stated as holding the office of Delegate provided for by the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights does refer to the “WA Delegate” in article 2 (and formerly did so in article 8). However, the Constitutional language is, otherwise, consistent throughout. In article 2, which defines the office of Delegate, and in article 6, which includes general provisions concerning government officials, the Constitution refers only to the “Delegate” as being a government official and, as noted, draws a line between this and the in-game position.

The difference between the language of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution seems to stem from the former having retained its language from prior to the adoption of the latter and not from any difference in terms of whom it applies to. The reference to "WA Delegate" in the Bill of Rights must therefore carry the same meaning as "Delegate" in the Constitution. However, the term "WA Delegate" is also used as a term with a specific, defined meaning in the Legal Code. In that context, it bears a different meaning and simply means the nation that is World Assembly Delegate in-game.

It is not permissible for the oath to be sworn in a manner that allows this inconsistent dual meaning, particularly set against the otherwise consistent use of "Delegate" in the Constitution. The Court therefore concludes that "Delegate" must be used in swearing the oath required and that the challenged oath was, therefore, improperly sworn.

Validity of the Oath

This necessarily raises questions as to the validity of the oath and of the actions that have been taken during the period covered by it.

The Court has previously held that the effect of failure to take the oath results in the actions taken without the oath being sworn at all invalid. Here, the issue is slightly different, in that the oath was taken with what could be characterised as a minor and, the Court anticipates, inadvertent impropriety. There appears to be no reason to think that McMasterdonia did not intend to be bound by the oath they swore and, in any event, they exercised such considerable government authority for such a long time in reliance on it that the Court must conclude they intended to be bound. Further, others, including the Regional Assembly, parties before this Court, and foreign powers, have relied on the validity of the oath and the authority exercised relying on it.

It would be destructive in the extreme for this Court to take the view, retrospectively, that all of those exercises of authority were invalid. To borrow the words of the Court from on the Permanence of Rejected Applications for the Regional Assembly, such alteration of accepted fact is neither practical, possible, nor permitted by the Bill of Rights.

It is within the power of the Court to remedy this invalidity, as it did in that case and more recently in relation to citizenship oaths. The Court must draw from McMasterdonia’s reliance on the oath the presumption that he took it in good faith and intended to be bound by it, the consequence of that is that he is bound by it. Further, the presumption that the oath was accepted as valid in good faith extends also to other officials and bodies and, indeed, the region at large, with the effect that the authority exercised relying on the oath are valid.

Conclusion

The Court therefore finds that the oath sworn by McMasterdonia was improperly sworn. To be valid, the oath of the Delegate must be sworn stating the government position as being “Delegate”. However, the Court also concludes that the improper oath was sworn in good faith by McMasterdonia and was relied on in good faith by the region, with the consequence that it was binding and that the authority exercised the basis of it was valid.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on April 7, 2020.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Speaker's Power to Schedule Votes
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Zyvetskistaahn, joined by Justices Wonderess and Lady Raven Wing

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Praetor.

The Court took into consideration the legal briefs filed by Mall, St George, Racoda, and Praetor.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 2. The Regional Assembly:
8. The Speaker will administer the rules of the Regional Assembly. Where no rules exist, the Speaker may use their discretion.
[...]
10. The Speaker may appoint deputies to assist them in the execution of any of their powers and duties. Appointment of deputies may be regulated by law and the rules of the Regional Assembly.
Article 4. The Court:
2. Reviews of laws or government policies and actions must be made by request of an affected party unless there is a compelling regional interest in resolving it.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:
Bill of Rights for all Nations of The North Pacific:
2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.
[...]
9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Rules of the Regional Assembly of The North Pacific:
Section 1. Proposals:
2. The Speaker may schedule a vote on any proposal being discussed by the Regional Assembly as permitted by law.

3. If, before a vote on a proposal begins, at least three citizens object to the decision of the Speaker to schedule it, the Speaker must cancel the scheduled vote.
Section 3. Deputy Speaker and Vacancies:
2. Unless otherwise specified by law, the Speaker may delegate any of their powers and duties to the Deputy Speaker. Delegation under this section does not relieve the Speaker of any of their powers and duties. Any provisions of law related to the powers and duties of the Speaker, when exercised by the Deputy Speaker under the provisions of this clause, shall apply to the Deputy Speaker.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Standing Procedures of the Speaker:
Non-legislative Proposal Procedure:
1. Any citizen may introduce a proposal to exercise a power of the Assembly besides enacting, amending, or repealing laws, or ratifying or revoking the ratification of treaties by creating a thread in the Regional Assembly forum or Private Halls subforum.
2. Any citizen may call for a vote on the proposal by posting "motion to vote", or a functional equivalent in the thread. Any other citizen may second such a motion.
3. Once the proposal has been moved and seconded, the Speaker will schedule a vote.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on Standing and the Definition of Affected Party:
The Court opines that an affected party, with respect to one’s the ability to request judicial review, is someone who reasonably perceives that their rights have been infringed through action or inaction undertaken by a governmental body or bodies. An affected party also include those affected, adversely or otherwise, by laws passed by the regional assembly and policies enacted by the executive and judicial branches of government.

The affected party must detail in their review request the rights they perceive have been violated and/or the laws put asunder showing a clear connection between the law and how they are personally affected in the situation.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Speaker's Powers to Restrict the Format of Votes:
The Speaker by making these policies was within their powers as laid out by the Constitution and not in violation of the Bill of Rights. The Court looked extensively at the Section 10 of the Bill of Rights and determined that the rules that were adopted still allowed the protection of each nations right to vote. We are aware the Speaker discounted votes that were not in line with the adopted polices but again the voters that lodged an invalid vote were still given the right to vote in the matter. It is our belief that once these rules were adopted they were enforced evenly and fairly.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Speaker's Power to End Debate:
The Constitution, Legal Code, and RA Rules are all completely devoid of any additional reference to the Speaker's discretionary powers. Nor are there any rules outlining how the Regional Assembly's business is to be conducted, which have bearing on this matter. As such, the Constitution's grant of discretion to the Speaker in administering the Regional Assembly is the only binding law on this issue.

The question is raised, however, as to whether or not the actions taken using this discretionary power violate the Bill of Rights. This Court believes that they do not. Nations do possess a right to freedom of speech, and the government may not impede that right, but this restriction must be balanced against the demands of a civilized society, which encourages equal treatment of all its citizens. Regardless of the personal feelings of any Regional Assembly member, the proposal in question was a targeted attempt to discriminate against a member of the region. In fact, the proposal would have violated several elements of the Bill of Rights and Legal Code. Furthermore, the target of this proposal had repeatedly asked for the harassment he felt he was experiencing to cease. Under these circumstances, the Speaker's actions are not a violation of the Bill of Rights for one simple reason.

Bill of Rights:
. . . The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.

The Speaker's actions were permitted under his discretion, and using his judgment he acted in the best interests of the region. If any Nation feels that the actions of a government official are in violation of these laws, the proper recourse is a recall proceeding, not a Court proceeding. Particularly not in circumstances such as these.

With that decided, the Court would take this opportunity to comment more broadly on the powers of the Speaker. Under the aforementioned Constitutional clause, the Speaker is granted broad discretion, where no rules exist, to administer the Regional Assembly as he or she sees fit. Under the Bill of Rights segment also mentioned previously, the Court believes that all government officials are obligated by law to act in good faith in discharging their duties. The Court believes that the Speaker does possess the right to unilaterally table proposals, if their continued debate is not reasonably in the best interests of the region. The Constitution grants this discretion, and the Bill of Rights in effect obligates the Speaker to exercise said discretion if he or she feels it is appropriate. If the Nations of The North Pacific disagree, the procedure for Recall is quite clear, and as has been demonstrated over the past few months, is quite accessible. Legal review of the Speaker's discretionary decisions is not, generally speaking, necessary.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Use of Speaker's Power to End Debate:
The Constitution establishes that the Regional Assembly has the authority to create the rules for its governance, and that it is the duty of the Speaker to administer those rules. Where there is vagueness as to procedure, or when situations arise which are not covered by those rules, or by superseding ones within the Constitution, Legal Code, or Bill of Rights, the Speaker is empowered to act as they see fit within the best interests of the region. Previous Courts have interpreted this power broadly, upholding the Speaker's broad authority to maintain an appropriate atmosphere, promote a productive use of the Regional Assembly, and block proposals and votes which they deem harmful. While the relevant law has changed since the previous decision, prompting us to take this case, upon investigation the underlying principles have not.

We uphold the previous rulings in full, and reiterate that disagreements over best interests can be solved via recall motions. The Court is not the appropriate body to resolve such disputes.

As in the review of a Speaker's decision to end debate, we find the Speaker's power broad, but not unlimited. While the Speaker may refuse to tolerate something harmful, it is not a legitimate use of their power to capriciously stifle any and all debate. Two things therefore matter in this instance: the content of the proposal in question, and the severity of the Speaker's crackdown.
[...]
As established through testimony, current RA procedure is divided into two parts, and the two parts hold different legal weight. That portion of it which is contained within the Rules of the Regional Assembly was established by a majority vote as allowed for under Article 7, Clause 11 of the Constitution, and the Speaker is obligated to apply it as written. However, that which is contained within the Speaker's Standing Policies is entirely discretionary, and the Speaker has the power to alter its application when such is deemed necessary.

Formal debate, the rules surrounding it, and the decision to move a proposal through that stage and into a vote, fall entirely within the Speaker's discretionary procedures. They would be equally as free to put bills to vote based on the flip of a coin or a well-written original sonnet asking them to do so. While there is a written procedure, it is provided as a courtesy to RA members so they know what to expect most of the time - it is not intended or presented as a promise. The Speaker is free to deviate from their written procedures as they wish.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Speaker's Power to Extend Voting Periods:
The Speaker has submitted that there exists a discretionary power under the Constitution to extend the duration of a vote and that the rules do not exclude the existence of such a power. The Court, in considering this proposition, is cognisant of its prior rulings on the nature of the Speaker's discretionary power: that it is a broad one; and that it is not limited strictly to occasions where no rules cover a matter, but extends to addressing vagueness in adopted rules. However, the Court does not agree that the rules permit the existence of a power of the kind the Speaker contends.
[...]
Where the rules cover a matter it is not necessary for them to expressly exclude the Speaker's discretion, for the discretion exists only where the rules are absent or sufficiently vague as to leave room for discretionary action. This Section is comprehensive and it does not contain a vagueness within which the Speaker's actions can be said to have fit, thus, its exclusion of a discretion to alter voting periods outside of its terms is total.

The Court opines the following:

Standing

This request for review concerns a decision by a Deputy Speaker to commence a vote on the appointment of a prosecutor for the criminal trial The North Pacific v Pigeonstan. The vote was either commenced without being scheduled or was scheduled to start with no time between the scheduling and the commencement. There is, for the purposes of this decision, little real difference between those possibilities.

The Petitioner contends that this decision infringed on their rights under the Bill of Rights, particularly Article 2, the right to petition for the redress of grievances, and Article 9, the right to an opportunity to be heard. That is because action of the Deputy Speaker effectively prevented objections under Section 1, rule 3 of the Rules of the Regional Assembly being made to a decision to schedule a vote on the proposal.

The Court accepts that the Petitioner was personally affected by the decision and that the Petitioner would, were the decision unlawful, have a reasonable perception that their rights were infringed, particularly in relation to the loss of opportunity protected by Article 9. What is protected by that Article is the opportunity to object, that opportunity has been curtailed by the action of the Deputy Speaker. The Court is therefore satisfied that the Petitioner does have standing to request this review.

The Law on the Speaker

The particular action at issue here was taken by a Deputy Speaker, but that does not have any bearing on the principles to be applied. The Constitution and the Rules of the Regional Assembly allow the Deputy Speaker to be delegated any power or responsibility of the Speaker, with the laws that apply to the Speaker applying in a like manner to their Deputies.

The Speaker is empowered by the Constitution to administer the Rules and, where no rules exist, they may use their discretion. The Court, over several decisions, has recognised that this discretion is broad and extends to resolving ambiguity in rules that have been made.

When some issue is within the bounds of the Speaker’s discretion, it is for the Speaker to decide how to exercise their discretion in the best interests of the region in pursuit of aims such as maintaining an appropriate atmosphere and promoting productive use of the Regional Assembly. In its decision on the Speaker’s Power to End Debate the Court made clear that this was so despite the fact that the exercise of the power contemplated in that case, terminating debate on a proposal unilaterally, would impinge on free speech. The rights of citizens in the Regional Assembly must be balanced against the demands of a civilized society, such as the rights of other citizens or the regional interest in the orderly conduct of the Regional Assembly's business. It is for the Speaker to strike that balance and only in truly exceptional circumstances, such as the capricious stifling of any and all debate as envisaged in the Court's decision on the Use of the Speaker’s Power to End Debate, could the Court interfere.

The Speaker has established policies to govern their decision making, the Standing Procedures. The nature of the Standing Procedures was also considered in the Court's decision on the Use of the Speaker’s Power to End Debate. Their purpose is to provide citizens a guide as to the process that will be followed most of the time, but that which is contained within the Standing Policies is discretionary and may be altered when necessary. That this must be so is supported by that decision and others holding that the Speaker is obligated to use their discretion in the best interests of the region, it would be inconsistent with that obligation if the Speaker could adopt a binding policy limiting their own discretion and preventing deviation which would better serve the region.

Scheduling a Vote

The Petitioner contends that the vote was not scheduled in advance, the Speaker, in response, has submitted that it was scheduled but was scheduled to start immediately. The Court will address both scenarios, beginning with that of the Petitioner.

The Rules on proposals provide that the Speaker may schedule a vote on a proposal being discussed by the Regional Assembly as permitted by law. They also provide that, before a vote begins, citizens can object to the Speaker’s decision, with the Speaker being obligated to cancel a vote that three citizens object to.

The question raised by the Petitioner about these provisions is whether they require votes to be scheduled or whether votes can be started without having been scheduled in advance. The Court held in its decision on the Speaker’s Power to Extend Voting Periods that the Rules need not expressly exclude the Speaker's discretion, where they are comprehensive and lack ambiguity that is sufficient. However, in contrast to the provisions on setting the length of votes at issue in that case, which mandated that the length be set at the beginning of each vote, the provisions the Court is now concerned with are permissive of scheduling; they do not prohibit votes being started without notice, nor do they compel all votes to be scheduled. The Rules could easily specify that the only votes that may be opened are those that have been scheduled, they do not. While the Standing Procedures state that a vote will be scheduled when a motion and a second are made, it is, as the Court held in its decision on the Use of the Speaker's Power to End Debate, open to the Speaker to depart from them and to do so at their discretion.

It appears to the Court that the Rules, in this regard, are ambiguous. They are permissive rather than prescriptive and leave space for the possibility of votes without notice. That being so, the question of how that ambiguity is resolved is a matter for the Speaker and that they have a broad discretion in how to resolve it.

Time to Object

While the above is sufficient to dispose of the request for review on the basis advanced by the Petitioner, the Court will also consider the point made by the Speaker that the vote was scheduled but with no delay between the decision to schedule and the vote.

The Speaker contends that there is no minimum period specified in the Rules for objections to decisions to schedule, nor is one specified in their Standing Procedures for non-legislative matters, such as the motion this request relates to. That being so, the Speaker says, it is within their discretion to decide to schedule a vote to start immediately and to start that vote. The Court agrees.

Even if the Court considered that there was a requirement for votes to be scheduled in advance, it is evident that there is ambiguity as to how far in advance that must be. No minimum period is prescribed in the Regional Assembly’s Rules, neither is a minimum period set out in the Standing Procedures and, as noted above, even if there were it would be open to the Speaker to depart from it. There is no robust legal principle the Court could use to decide one. Any standard prescribed by the Court would amount either to legislation or would be so vague as to be unmanageable.

It is not the place of this Court to decide how many days, hours or minutes would be needed for objections and, effectively, to make a new rule for the Regional Assembly. It is for the Regional Assembly to do that. Until the Regional Assembly does so, that question, again, is left to the Speaker’s discretion.

Conclusion

The Rules in this area are ambiguous and it is clear from the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions that it is for the Speaker to decide how to resolve that ambiguity. Whether the vote was started without having been scheduled or whether it was scheduled to start immediately is an arid point. There is no substantive difference between them. Both would have the same effect on the Petitioner, both would be within the Speaker’s discretion and both would be permissible for that reason.

As the Court has endeavoured to make clear on previous occasions, citizens aggrieved by the Speaker’s decisions have means to raise their concerns: they can complain to the Speaker; they can vote against proposals that they think have been put up to soon; they can vote for some other candidate at the next election; ultimately, they can seek to recall the Speaker. If the Regional Assembly thinks its Rules afford the Speaker too much latitude, it can change them. Control of the Speaker's discretion is, barring a truly exceptional scenario, a political and not a legal matter.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on June 23, 2020.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On Vague Laws and Responsible Action
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Zyvetskistaahn, joined by Justices Wonderess and Lady Raven Wing
The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by saintpeter.

The Court took into consideration the legal briefs filed by Dreadton and saintpeter.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 4. The Court:
2. Reviews of laws or government policies and actions must be made by request of an affected party unless there is a compelling regional interest in resolving it.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:
Bill of Rights for all Nations of The North Pacific:
7. When charged with criminal acts, Nations of The North Pacific shall have a fair, impartial, and public trial before a neutral and impartial judicial officer. In any criminal proceeding, a Nation is presumed innocent unless guilt is proven to the fact finder by reasonably certain evidence. A Nation may be represented by any counsel of the Nation's choosing. No Nation convicted of a crime shall be subject to a punishment disproportionate to that crime.

[...]

9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Section 1.9: Gross Misconduct:
25. "Gross Misconduct" is defined as the violation of an individual's legally mandated sworn oath, either willfully or through negligence.
Section 6.1: Citizenship Applications:
2. Any resident may apply for citizenship using their regional forum account, by providing the name of their nation in The North Pacific, and swearing an oath as follows:
I pledge loyalty to The North Pacific, obedience to her laws, and responsible action as a member of her society. I pledge to only register one nation to vote in The North Pacific. I pledge that no nation under my control will wage war against the North Pacific. I understand that if I break this oath I may permanently lose my voting privileges. In this manner, I petition the Speaker for citizenship in The North Pacific.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Sentence Issued by the Court in The North Pacific v Whole India:
The Court has determined that Deropia does have the standing to bring this request for review on behalf of Whole India. Whole India, as the defendant whose sentence is being challenged, has obvious and unassailable standing to raise concerns about impropriety in their own sentencing. Criminal defendants have the right to be represented by counsel during their trial, and that right to representation must necessarily extend to other issues raised with the court pertaining to that trial, even if they do not occur during the official trial process.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on WA Nation Disclosure Requirements:
On the third point, the Court must examine the law in its entirety to determine whether or not WA Membership is a requirement, or a choice. At no point, under the Constitution or any element of the Legal Code, is World Assembly membership a requirement to participate. Membership alone is a choice. Choices come with consequences; some choices ease burdens, others impose them. The protections in the Bill of Rights are intended to protect all Nations of the North Pacific from unfair burdens imposed by their government. WA membership, however, is a choice, not an obligation.

Participation in activities which require WA membership is a choice, not an obligation. As such, any duty to report WA nations is, in effect, willingly shouldered by those players who choose to participate in such activities. The reporting requirements are imposed fairly, on all nations. That some nations choose to join the WA, thereby triggering this reporting requirement, is not a choice made for those players; it is a choice made by them. As such, the burden of reporting is willingly shouldered, and is not an unfair burden.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on Oath Violations by Former Members of the Regional Assembly:
The Court had determined that the matter is twofold. If the violation occurs after the time in which the nation is no longer a member of the Regional Assembly then they are not violating their oath as they are not bound to that oath at the current moment. Whereas if the violation occurs during the time in which the nation was a member of the Regional Assembly and was bound by that oath they may be tried for an Oath Violation.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Time at which Oaths Become Binding:
It is the opinion of the Court that the Regional Assembly membership oath found in Section 6 Clause 2 of the Codified Law of the North Pacific becomes legally binding on RA applicants if and when they become members of the Regional Assembly, and remains binding only so long as they remain members.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on the Standard of Proof and Intent:
To start, the Court opines that "willful deception" is synonymous with "intentional deception", and that the difference in word choice does not require a different standard of proof between the two crimes.

As for the standard itself, there are two types of intention in the commission of fraud. The first is demonstrable intent, wherein the defendant can be shown, by their own statements or actions relating to the alleged crime, to have engaged in deception as defined previously in this ruling.

The second is reckless intent, wherein intent is established by argumentation on reasonable expectations. The harmful or beneficial consequence of the deception must be something a reasonable person could have expected, by which the defendant can themselves be reasonably expected to have either expected or recklessly ignored the risk of that consequence. Either is sufficient.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on RA Membership Requirements for Candidates:
It is worth also examining the intent of the regional legislative body, the Regional Assembly, while drafting the constitutional clause in question. In the thread in the Regional Assembly discussing the Constitutional Omnibus Act of August 2012, when asked about the meaning of the definite article in Article 6, Clause 1, then Speaker Gulliver stated: "The "the" there is deliberate. It means specifically the 15 days before the election in question, not any random 15 days, so it's not possible to argue that "I was in the assembly 15 days already, even if it wasn't continuous, therefore I'm good to run"."

It should be noted that taking the intention of the Regional Assembly into consideration when interpreting a statute is appropriate only when said statute is ambiguous or absurd. Neither of these is true in this case, as Article 6, Clause 1 of the Constitution unambiguously indicates that the requirement for candidates is that they have been in the Regional Assembly continuously for the fifteen days immediately preceding the opening of nominations. However, the legislature's intent here is in agreement with the actual meaning of the clause, and corroborates the interpretation adopted by the Court.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its decision on Endorsement Count Requirements and the Solicitation of Endorsements:
Question Three - Is it a crime for a nation that is not the Vice Delegate to have the second most endorsements in the region?

It's not a crime merely to have more endorsements than the Vice Delegate: crimes are strictly defined in the criminal code (as per clause 1), and that's not one of them. In general, Reckless Endorsement Gathering is not a crime, but is a cause for ejection.

However, a Citizen could conceivably commit Gross Misconduct by violating their oath as citizen in egregious cases of Reckless Endorsement Gathering:

I, the leader of The North Pacific nation of [INSERT YOUR TNP NATION], pledge loyalty to The North Pacific, obedience to her laws, and responsible action as a member of her society. I pledge to only register one nation to vote in The North Pacific. I pledge that no nation under my control will wage war against the North Pacific. I understand that if I break this oath I may permanently lose my voting privileges. In this manner, I petition the Speaker for citizenship in The North Pacific.

However, where Reckless Endorsement Gathering is cause for ejection but not a crime, Gross Misconduct is a crime but is not cause for ejection:

8. Gross Misconduct will be punished by removal from office and the suspension of voting rights for whatever finite duration the Court sees fit.

[...]

Question One - Did Vice Delegate Bootsie, Security Counselor Plembobria, or Delegate Lord Ravenclaw break the law when the nation of Plembobria passed Bootsie's nation of Guslantis' endorsement count, or when Cheongji passed Guslantis' endorsement count?

The Court cannot give a criminal verdict in a request for review, nor rule on an indictment sight unseen.

However, the answers to questions two through five suggest that Lord Ravenclaw did not break the law by declining to eject either Cheongji or Plembobria, that as no claim has been made that Guslantis failed to have at least 75% of the serving Delegate's endorsement count there is no basis presented to consider Bootsie to have committed Gross Misconduct, and that as no case has been made that Plembobria acted irresponsibly there is no basis presented to consider Plembobria to have committed the same.
The Court opines the following:

Standing

This is a request for review concerning the crime of Gross Misconduct. It was filed by counsel on behalf of their then client Pigeonstan, Defendant in the trial The North Pacific v Pigeonstan. While the Petitioner has ceased to act for Pigeonstan, the Court does not consider this makes a material difference to standing. A request filed by counsel is not based on their own standing, but their client's standing, which ordinarily would survive a change of counsel.

The request challenges Gross Misconduct committed by violation of the citizenship oath's pledge of "responsible action as a member of [The North Pacific's] society". It is contended that this pledge is so vague that it deprives Pigeonstan of due process of law, including prior notice, and of equal and fair treatment, contrary to Article 9 of the Bill of Rights. Pigeonstan is said to be affected because they face the jeopardy and stigma of a criminal trial.

The Court agrees that a criminal charge is sufficient for Pigeonstan to be an affected party in relation to the crimes they are charged with and there is a clear connection between those laws and an effect on their rights. The Court, therefore, accepts this request, but does so cautiously. Requests for review not the appropriate venue to decide criminal matters that call for decisions on matters of fact or for the exercise of judgement that depends on factual issues; the safeguards of trials are not present in requests for review and such decisions in the absence of those safeguards could risk a fair trial. However, this request poses an abstract question that is not dependent upon the underlying facts of Pigeonstan's case, so does not pose such a risk.

Vagueness in Principle

The first question raised by the review is whether the Bill of Rights restricts crimes from being too vaguely defined.

Article 9 of the Bill of Rights guarantees due process of law, specifically including a right to prior notice, and fair and equal protection of the provisions of the Constitution.

The Court accepts that those protections do render overly vague criminal laws unconstitutional. If a law is so vague a nation cannot tell whether their conduct is criminal, that nation is deprived of prior notice of criminal liability and, thereby, of the opportunity to ensure their conduct is lawful. Moreover, it impacts on their right to due process of law more broadly: a crime with an amorphous boundary infringes on a nation’s ability to know what it is accused of and to mount an effective defence.

Equal and fair protection of the provisions of the Constitution can also be infringed by such laws. An unclear law not only impacts on a nation’s ability to assess its conduct, but also on the Court’s ability to do so. An overly vague criminal law may lead to different defendants receiving different verdicts for the same conduct, due only to differing subjective understandings of the Courts that try them. That would be unfair and unequal.

Assessing Vagueness

This conclusion leads to a second question: how to decide whether a law is too vague.

There will always be some imprecision in laws. There are limits to the precision of language and laws, in particular, aim to apply generally. It is inevitable that there will be hard cases at the margins. Therefore, it is not enough to merely say a law is vague in some respect or in some scenarios.

Further, it is a fact, and many would say a strength, of our constitutional structure that it incorporates a citizen legislature. That is an important factor for the Court to consider. Our laws, unlike those in many other jurisdictions, are not drawn up with precision by lawyers and trained draughtsmen but are hammered out by the citizens themselves. A degree of imprecision may be expected to follow and the constitutional choice of a citizen legislature should not be sanctioned by the adoption of an overly exacting standard in deciding on vagueness.

The Court also considers there may be other factors relevant to assessing particular laws. If a nation can avoid the effect of a law entirely, it may be that they have willingly shouldered its burdens as the Court held in its decision on WA Nation Disclosure Requirements, including, potentially, areas of vagueness in the law. If a law regulates officials, some vagueness may be the price those officials pay to exercise greater power over other nations. These factors are only examples and others may also be relevant.

Set against these points are the rights of nations under article 9. Those rights are just as much part of our constitutional structure and must be protected. The Court considers that, in general, when assessing whether a law is too vague the question is whether the law leaves a reasonable nation unable to say with reasonable certainty whether would risk criminal liability in relation to a substantial range of conduct. As noted, particular circumstances may justify some deviation.

Gross Misconduct

It is useful to set out Gross Misconduct’s elements, to understand the context in which "responsible action" is to be interpreted.

The conduct caught by the crime is that which violates a nation's legally mandated sworn oath. This covers, at least, the three oaths now in the Legal Code: the oath of office; the citizenship oath; and the NPA oath. The citizenship oath, as held in the Court’s decisions on Oath Violations by Former Members of the Regional Assembly and on the Time at which Oaths Become Binding, applies only to a nation's conduct while a citizen. A nation cannot be guilty of gross misconduct in relation to conduct before becoming, or after ceasing to be, a citizen.

Further, the conduct is punishable only where it is willful or negligent. The Court, in its decision on the Standard of Proof and Intent, addressed the meaning of willful in the context of Fraud and held it to be equivalent to intentional, which was also considered in that decision.

Responsible Action

It is in that context that the Court must determine what "responsible action" means and whether its meaning is unconstitutionally vague.

The Court has been referred to the discussions of the Regional Assembly when amending the oath. As the Court's decision on RA Membership Requirements for Candidates notes, it can sometimes be appropriate and useful to refer to the Assembly's discussions where a law is ambiguous or absurd. The Court considers that there is ambiguity in "responsible action" sufficient to look at those discussions. However, the statements made in the course of debating the phrase give only limited assistance. While one member put forward a potential meaning, they were not the proposer of the Bill and there were other members who considered the phrase ambiguous and were concerned about a potentially subjective reading of it.

The request, effectively, proceeds on the basis that "responsible action" could be reduced to a subjective question of whether a given nation considers conduct responsible or irresponsible. Examples of what could be covered on this understanding are set out: a nation standing in an election it will lose; a nation telegramming another a mild swear; a nation filing an unmeritorious request for review. The Court agrees that this is a possible meaning of the phrase and that, if it were its proper meaning for the purposes of Gross Misconduct, it would be unconstitutionally vague. Such a subjective meaning would deprive a reasonable nation of any meaningful ability to say whether its conduct is criminal.

However, the Court is of the view that where a law can bear different meanings and some of them would be unconstitutional, the Court should generally look to a meaning compliant with the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Further, the Court finds it unlikely that the Regional Assembly could have meant to pass a law that was so broad as to be unconstitutional, particularly where a number of members expressed concern about criminalising conduct on a subjective basis. These points have their limits: the Court should not adopt a meaning that does not fit plausibly with the particular wording of the law or that would be contrary to its surrounding context.

The Court notes that, in its decision on Endorsement Count Requirements and the Solicitation of Endorsements, some consideration was given to Gross Misconduct committed by citizens. The Court stated that "a citizen could conceivably commit Gross Misconduct by violating their oath as citizen in egregious cases of Reckless Endorsement Gathering". This lends credence to a view that Gross Misconduct is not committed merely by some trivial irresponsibility, but that something greater is required. The very name of the crime supports this also, it is Gross Misconduct.

The Court concludes it ought to adopt a narrow interpretation of "responsible action". This would comply with the requirements of the Bill of Rights, it would avoid finding unconstitutional an otherwise viable law, and it would not be contrary to the law's wording or its context. A violation of the pledge of "responsible action", for the purposes of Gross Misconduct, is conduct which a reasonable citizen would find obviously and seriously irresponsible. Further, where the conduct could not be criminalised due to being protected by the Bill of Rights, even if it could fall within the above meaning, it is not a violation of the pledge.

The Court finds that, with this meaning, "responsible action" is not so vague as to be unconstitutional. A reasonable nation would be able to say for most conduct whether it is covered by the crime of Gross Misconduct and, while there may remain areas of some doubt, the Court considers that cases falling at the margins would not be enough to render the meaning unconstitutional. In so finding the Court also has regard to other factors relevant to the issue, particularly: that the crime is not satisfied by conduct alone but the conduct must be willful or negligent; that a nation can guarantee that it is outside of the scope of Gross Misconduct by not seeking or by renouncing citizenship; and that citizens, though not exercising power on the same level as officials, do wield power over their fellow nations, by making laws for them and choosing the officials that administer them, and so have (and in the oath accept) a greater need to act with responsibility.

Conclusion

The Court finds that criminal laws can be so vague that they are unconstitutional, as they can infringe on a nation's rights under Article 9. Whether a criminal law is too vague is generally to be answered by considering whether it leaves reasonable nation unable to say with reasonable certainty whether it would risk criminal liability in relation to a substantial range of conduct, but other factors may also be relevant to considering particular laws.

Gross Misconduct by violation of the pledge of "responsible action" cannot be satisfied only by conduct that could be subjectively thought irresponsible. Such an interpretation would be unconstitutional and the Court considers it improper to adopt it where there are other constitutional interpretations that are open to the Court. Instead, the Court concludes that the pledge is only violated by conduct that a reasonable citizen would find obviously and seriously irresponsible and that conduct protected by the Bill of Rights does not violate the pledge even where it could be characterised as irresponsible.

The Court finds that, applying that meaning and considering other factors relevant to Gross Misconduct, the crime of Gross Misconduct committed by violation of the pledge of "responsible action" is not unconstitutionally vague.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on July 9, 2020.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Power of the Speaker to Direct Deputy Speakers
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Zyvetskistaahn, joined by THOs Oracle and Goyanes with Justice Vivanco recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by saintpeter.

The Court took into consideration the legal briefs filed by Dreadton, saintpeter, Lady Raven Wing, and Praetor.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 2. The Regional Assembly:
10. The Speaker may appoint deputies to assist them in the execution of any of their powers and duties. Appointment of deputies may be regulated by law and the rules of the Regional Assembly.
Article 4. The Court:
1. The Court will try all criminal cases and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies and actions.
2. Reviews of laws or government policies and actions must be made by request of an affected party unless there is a compelling regional interest in resolving it.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:
The Bill of Rights for all Nations of The North Pacific:
9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.

[...]

11. No governmental authority of the region has the power to suspend or disregard the Constitution or the Legal Code. In the event of an actual emergency, the governmental authorities of the region, with the express consent of the Nations of the region or their representatives, is authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is consistent as practicable with the pertinent provisions of the Constitution.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Section 4.1: Oath of Office:
1. All government officials will take the Oath of Office below before assuming their role within the government of The North Pacific.
I, [forum username], do hereby solemnly swear that during my term as [government position], I will uphold the ideals of Democracy, Freedom, and Justice of The Region of The North Pacific. I will use the powers and rights granted to me through The North Pacific Constitution and Legal Code in a legal, responsible, and unbiased manner, not abusing my power, committing misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, in any gross or excessive manner. I will act only in the best interests of The North Pacific, not influenced by personal gain or any outside force, and within the restraints of my legally granted power. As such, I hereby take up the office of [government position], with all the powers, rights, and responsibilities held therein.
Section 1.9: Gross Misconduct:
25. "Gross Misconduct" is defined as the violation of an individual's legally mandated sworn oath, either willfully or through negligence.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of Rules of the Regional Assembly:
Section 3. Deputy Speaker and Vacancies:
2. Unless otherwise specified by law, the Speaker may delegate any of their powers and duties to the Deputy Speaker. Delegation under this section does not relieve the Speaker of any of their powers and duties. Any provisions of law related to the powers and duties of the Speaker, when exercised by the Deputy Speaker under the provisions of this clause, shall apply to the Deputy Speaker.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its ruling on Standing and the Definition of Affected Party:
The Court opines that an affected party, with respect to one’s the ability to request judicial review, is someone who reasonably perceives that their rights have been infringed through action or inaction undertaken by a governmental body or bodies. An affected party also include those affected, adversely or otherwise, by laws passed by the regional assembly and policies enacted by the executive and judicial branches of government.

The affected party must detail in their review request the rights they perceive have been violated and/or the laws put asunder showing a clear connection between the law and how they are personally affected in the situation.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its ruling on Court Review of RA Proposals:
Furthermore, a proposal before the RA cannot be considered a law or a government policy until it is enacted. The Court is a reactive body, and both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution Article 5, Clause 1 preclude the Court from ruling on something that hasn't actually happened yet, such as potential violation of rights that might be done if a proposal becomes a law.

This decision does not apply solely to requests to review proposals of the Regional Assembly. More broadly, the Court finds that justices are prohibited by the Constitution from accepting a request for review of anything that is not a law, government policy, or government action.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of its ruling on the Speaker's Power to Schedule Votes:
The particular action at issue here was taken by a Deputy Speaker, but that does not have any bearing on the principles to be applied. The Constitution and the Rules of the Regional Assembly allow the Deputy Speaker to be delegated any power or responsibility of the Speaker, with the laws that apply to the Speaker applying in a like manner to their Deputies.

The Court opines the following:

Standing

This is a request for review by saintpeter and Lady Raven Wing. They are both Deputy Speakers. They have been directed by the Speaker not to take an action, namely not to process an application for citizenship by a resident, Wonderess.

They do not, in terms, contend that that direction is unlawful. Rather, the question their review seeks to answer can be put in this way: if that direction, or another, by the Speaker is unlawful, can they disobey it.

The Court is satisfied that the petitioners do have standing to bring this request for review. Both are personally affected by a government action or policy, namely the Speaker's direction that they do not accept an application for citizenship (whether the direction is better understood as an action or a policy does not make a difference for the purposes of this review). They do reasonably perceive their rights to be infringed, as the Speaker's direction exposes them to a risk of criminal liability if the direction is unlawful (though their liability would not turn solely on that issue), and that effect on their rights is clearly connected to the direction.

Jurisdiction

The Court was concerned, on considering the review, that the issue it was being asked to consider may be without the Court's jurisdiction. The Court in its decision on Court Review of RA Proposals held that the Court's review power is limited to reviewing extant laws, policies or actions. The Court is incapable of considering a review of a hypothetical future action.

The framing of this request for review, as asking whether it would be lawful for a Deputy Speaker to disobey a direction of the Speaker, appeared to the Court to risk straying into answering a hypothetical by asking whether a future action by a Deputy Speaker could be lawful. However, the Court considers that, more properly, this request can be understood as asking whether it is lawful for the Speaker to direct a Deputy Speaker not to take a specific action within a class of actions that a Deputy Speaker is empowered to take. That question is within the scope of the Court's authority to answer.

The Court does not need to answer, and is not asked by the request to answer, the question of whether the Speaker's underlying decision not to accept the application for citizenship made by Wonderess is lawful. Moreover, it is not apparent at this time that the petitioners would have standing to challenge that decision and answering that question could prejudice the Speaker's defence in criminal proceedings, which is of particular concern given a request for indictment has in fact been filed. The Court will, therefore, not answer that question.

The Role of the Deputy Speaker

The Constitution empowers the Speaker to appoint deputies to assist them in the execution of any of their powers and duties. The Constitution allows the role of Deputy Speaker to be regulated by both law and the Regional Assembly's rules.

No particular provision in relation to Deputy Speakers has been made by law, however, the Regional Assembly has exercised its power to regulate them through its Rules. The Rules effectively mirror the Constitution and allow the Speaker to delegate any power or duty to a Deputy Speaker; while the Rules cannot determine the meaning of the Constitution, which is superior law, the Court does find that the Rules correctly state the position under the Constitution, namely that Deputy Speakers exercise the delegated power of the Speaker. They further provide that such a delegation does not relieve the Speaker of their powers or duties and that, when acting under a delegation, the Deputy Speaker is subject to the same constraints as the Speaker.

The conclusion that flows from this is that the Speaker may determine the powers and duties of a Deputy Speaker. Neither the Constitution nor the Rules convey that the Speaker must delegate all of their powers and duties to a Deputy Speaker. Were the position that the Speaker may only delegate the whole of their powers and duties, the far more obvious framing of the provisions would simply be "A Deputy Speaker will have the same powers and duties as the Speaker". The ability to delegate implies the ability to choose which powers to delegate. That position is also consistent with other government officials: the Delegate may appoint executive officers to assist them and that is understood to allow the Delegate to constrain the powers of executive officers to certain tasks or areas.

Nature of Delegation

This raises a question as to the nature of the delegation. Does it have to be by reference to a general power or duty (for instance, the power to administer votes in the Regional Assembly) or can it be more specific (the power to administer a given vote)?

The Court notes, again, that the Constitution and the Rules do not convey that either general or specific delegations are impermissible. However, it does not follow from this that there is no limit: general limits on government power may impose one. It has been argued that a specific non-delegation by the Speaker, in relation to a power that the Speaker generally allows a Deputy Speaker to exercise, could infringe on the right to equal protection. If that were so, the argument goes, specific non-delegation may be unlawful.

However, the Court considers that similar arguments could properly be made for general non-delegations. If the Speaker did not delegate the power to remove citizenship and then failed to exercise that power or chose to do so unequally, that could infringe the right equal protection or breach the Speaker's duty to promptly remove citizens, but it does not follow that such failures by the Speaker mean that the Court can find a Deputy Speaker gains the Speaker's power.

In truth, where the Speaker by action or omission violates a nation's rights, it is the action or omission itself which violates them, not any lack of delegation. The nation does not have any right to have a Deputy Speaker to undertake or refrain from any action, except to the extent that the Deputy Speaker has been delegated the Speaker's power to do so. That this is so follows from the provision of the Rules that "Any provisions of law related to the powers and duties of the Speaker, when exercised by the Deputy Speaker under the provisions of this clause, shall apply to the Deputy Speaker". The answer for such a nation is to challenge the substantive action or omission by the Speaker, not the lack of delegation nor any inaction by the Deputy Speaker.

Moreover, there are circumstances where specific delegation or non-delegation is actively desirable. A Speaker may wish to train a Deputy Speaker and, therefore, allow them to process a particular citizenship application or administer a particular vote, there is no good reason to say that, in doing so, the Speaker thereby allows the Deputy Speaker to admit citizens in general or administer any vote. Conversely, a Speaker may consider that a Deputy Speaker could be perceived as having an interest in a particular proposal before the Regional Assembly and, therefore, remove from them the power to make decisions about it, it is unclear why that should be unlawful or should mean the Deputy Speaker cannot make decision on unrelated proposals.

The Court, therefore, concludes that the Speaker may make either general or specific delegations. Neither is without the scope of the wording of the Constitution or the Rules, nor can a failure to delegate itself infringe on a nation's rights so as to implicitly limit that scope, it is the substantive action or omission of the Speaker that does so. A non-delegation is therefore not unlawful merely because of how the Speaker carries out the substantive, non-delegated duties.

The Direction in this Case

In this case, the Speaker appears to have given to his Deputy Speakers the power and duty, in general, of admitting citizens. Naturally, when doing so Deputy Speakers are bound to obey the law, as the Speaker is. However, he has also directed them not to process the specific application of Wonderess and he has undertaken not do so himself.

The wording of the direction, that Deputy Speakers must "act in accordance with the statement [the Speaker] made saying the Office will not be processing Wonderess' application" is one which clearly varies the general delegation to exclude the processing of Wonderess' application. The Court is satisfied that, properly understood, that is the effect of the direction and that, as a result, the Deputy Speakers have no power or duty to process Wonderess' application.

The Court finds, therefore, that there is no need for the Deputy Speakers to disobey the Speaker's direction in order to comply with their legal obligations, because they are not, in relation to that application, exercising the powers and duties of the Speaker and so are not within the scope of rule 2, section 3 of the Rules and have no obligation to process the application. Indeed, if the Deputy Speakers sought to process the application, they would not be exercising the Speaker's power in doing so and their actions would be of no effect.

Conclusion

The Court finds that the nature of the power of Deputy Speakers is that it is delegated to them by the Speaker. The Constitution and the Rules of the Regional Assembly do not place express limits on the nature of that delegation. While an act or omission of the Speaker can, plainly, infringe on a nation's rights or violate their duty to obey the law, it does not follow that doing so has any effect on the Speaker's decision to delegate. There are also strong reasons to think that specific delegation or non-delegation would be permissible. The Court, therefore, finds that the Speaker may delegate their power either specifically or generally and, if they have delegated it generally, may remove specific matters from the scope of delegation.

The Court is satisfied that the Speaker has, in this case, not delegated to his Deputy Speakers the power to process Wonderess' application. That non-delegation is not unlawful. The Deputy Speakers do not, therefore, have any power or duty to process the application. The Court therefore concludes that it is not contrary to their legal obligations not to act, as their obligations as Deputy Speakers arise only where they have a power and duty to act.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on November 6, 2020.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Constraints of the NPA while on Joint Raiding Operations
Opinion drafted by Justice Lord Lore, joined by Chief Justice Vivanco and Justice saintpeter

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by BMWSurfer.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here & here by 9003.
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by QuietDad.
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Gladio.
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Praetor.


The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:

32. When deployed in a foreign region, The North Pacific Army will act with respect towards the natives of the region, and refrain from excessive use of force including altering the regions chosen embassy list or password protecting the region. Before leaving, The North Pacific Army must provide natives with the means to restore the region to its original state. Exceptions to this clause must be publicly authorised by the Delegate when it is in the best interests of The North Pacific or its allies.
33. When deployed in a foreign region, The North Pacific Army will refrain from causing permanent harm to the region, including forcibly remove natives or refounding the region. Exceptions to this clause must be publicly authorised by the Delegate when it is in the best interests of The North Pacific or its allies, subject to the approval of the Regional Assembly by a majority vote or pursuant to a declaration of war.
The Court opines the following:

On Standing:

As a member and officer within the North Pacific Army (hereby NPA) the petitioner clearly has standing in regards to policies decisions and the actions of superiors within the NPA as those policies and actions if followed could place the petitioner in violation of The North Pacific's Legal Code.

On the nature of the information provided to the court:

While some information in the request was misstated in its characteristics, the court never-the-less finds the underlying question posted to be valid and even without the acceptance of additional actions of the government the clarification of the policy's legality still stands.

Conclusion:

The Court finds that an NPA Policy that would allow the NPA to support raids that engage in acts prohibited by Section 7.6 of the Legal Code would put the NPA in violation of The North Pacific's Legal Code.

Section 7 Subsection 6 Clauses 32 & 33 are designed specifically to limit the harmful impact that the NPA can have while deployed in foreign regions. As such the Court finds that not being in control of operation does not shield the NPA from the limitations placed on it by the Regional Assembly through The North Pacific's Legal Code.

While The North Pacific's Legal Code can not directly tell foreign military forces, organizations, & regions how to conduct operations, but the NPA clearly falls under the jurisdiction of The North Pacific's Legal Code and if the actions would be a violation of the Legal Code for a member of the NPA to commit then the NPA can not passively or actively support the violations that occur without itself being in violation of 7.6.32 and/or 7.6.33. Clauses 32 and 33 of Section 7.6 have clearly defined exemption requirements set by the Regional Assembly and those must be respected by the NPA.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on January 26, 2021.
 
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Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Restriction of Citizenship Due to Illegal Affiliation
Opinion drafted by Justice Lord Lore, joined by Justice Dreadton and THO Oracle, with Chief Justice Pallaith recused

The Court took into consideration the inquire filed here by El Fiji Grande

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Pallaith
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Praetor

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific.
Article 1. Bill of Rights
1. All nations are guaranteed the rights defined by the Bill of Rights.
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Article 2. The Regional Assembly
3. Requirements for citizenship will be determined by law.
4. The Regional Assembly may enact, amend or repeal laws by a majority vote.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific.
2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.

9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Legal Code of The North Pacific.
Chapter 6: Regional Assembly Statutes
Section 6.1: Citizenship Applications

6. The Vice Delegate will automatically fail any applicant who identifies as fascist or has engaged in the promotion of fascism.
8. If an applicant is rejected for failing an evaluation by the Vice Delegate, the Regional Assembly shall immediately debate the rejection and will hold a majority vote on whether to uphold it. The vote must begin two days after the rejection occurs.
9. The Regional Assembly may overturn a previous decision to uphold the rejection of an applicant by majority vote.

The Court took into consideration prior ruling by the Court here, here, here, & here.

The Court opines the following:

On Standing
The Court finds that while the stated standing provided of being a nation protected under the Bill of Rights is a weak claim to standing, none-the-less the compelling interest keeps the Request valid due to the implications of a violations of rights in the application process to attain citizenship.

On Compelling Interest
The Court finds that there is a valid argument to be made about the purported conflict between the Reject Fascism Bill and the Bill of Rights.

On the Conflict between the Reject Fascism Bill (R.F.B.) and Bill of Rights Clauses 2 and 9.
The Court finds that no conflict exists between these because the R.F.B. does not target the speech of those applying for citizenship. The R.F.B. specifically targets applicants for their affiliation with a group (Fascists) and upon the affirmative action of promoting said group. The bill that is now Chapter 6, Section 6.1, Clause 6 in no way bars or punishes the ability of people to speak about anything only requiring a rejection for those who "identifies as" (affiliation) or "engages in the promotion" (action) neither of which are protected by the Bill of Rights or the Constitution.

Clause 2 of the Bill of Rights contains 3 freedom of “speech”, “press” and “expression of religion” none of which protect the above, Clause 9 only refers to “fair and equal treatment and protection” in relation to the actions of members of the government, a law can not violate Clause 9 because it only guarantees that the government will apply the laws to any “nations of The North Pacific” in an “equal and fair” manner, it would only be a violation of Clause 9 to selectively enforce the laws as they are written.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on August 16, 2021.
Ruling partially overturned December 13, 2022.
 
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Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Regulation of the Regional Message Board
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Pallaith, joined by Justices Kronos and Sil Dorsett

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by DiamondComodo
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Zyvetskistaahn
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here, and its addendum here by Dreadton

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific.
Article 1. Bill of Rights
1. All nations are guaranteed the rights defined by the Bill of Rights.
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Article 6. General Provisions
17. No law or government policy may contradict this constitution.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific.
2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.

11. No governmental authority of the region has the power to suspend or disregard the Constitution or the Legal Code. In the event of an actual emergency, the governmental authorities of the region, with the express consent of the Nations of the region or their representatives, is authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is consistent as practicable with the pertinent provisions of the Constitution.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Legal Code of The North Pacific.
Chapter 7: Executive Government
Section 7.3: Onsite Authority

11. Violators of NationStates rules, or residents banned offsite by forum administration, may be subject to summary ejection or banning.
12. Residents banned on the basis of forum bans imposed by forum administration may not be banned for longer than the length of the ban imposed by forum administration.
13. Nations recruiting for other regions may be subject to summary ejection or banning.
14. Nations for which the Court has issued an indictment permitting it may be ejected or banned.
15. Nations that have been so sentenced by the Court will be ejected or banned.
16. The official performing an ejection or ban will promptly inform the region and Government.
17. The Serving Delegate may regulate the Regional Message Board as they see fit.
18. Such regulations may not prohibit speech which is in the context of TNP politics.
19. All actions of the WA Delegate, the Serving Delegate, or of their appointed Regional Officers related to this section will be subject to judicial review.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the NationStates Rules.
Flamebaiting: Posts that are made with the aim of angering someone indirectly. Not outright flame, but still liable to bring angry replies. Flame baiting is a far more subtle and covert action; it is an underhanded tactic that is designed to provoke a response from another player. It's in the same context of trolling but with flamebaiting it's just the one person. Also included under flamebaiting is malicious quote editing, changing the contents of a quoted post without showing the original text, either through color changes or strike-out.
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Trolling/Baiting/Gloating: Trolling is defined as posts that are made with the aim of angering people. (like 'ALL JEWS ARE [insert vile comment here]' for example). Someone disagreeing with you does not equate to trolling. Intent is incredibly important and will be judged by the moderators to the best of their abilities. Honest belief does not excuse trolling. Disagreements are expected and conducting yourself in a civil manner is ideal. Trollbaiting is the action of making posts that attract trolls. A prime example of trollbaiting would be gloating over the results of an election.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the TNP Community Guidelines.
The Community Rules apply to platforms belonging to The North Pacific. This includes the forum (public areas, private areas, and private messages) and all affiliated Discord servers (public channels, private channels, and voice chats). If The North Pacific expands into additional platforms in the future, the Community Rules will also apply to them without first requiring specific enumeration in this document. Anyone who violates this code of conduct may be warned or banned from these spaces by the decision of the moderation team.
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The North Pacific will not tolerate the promotion of hate or bigotry of any kind, nor will we permit any behavior that places other members of our community at risk. Anybody found to be engaging in such behavior may be subject to immediate and permanent removal from all community spaces. The below list of examples is not exhaustive, but provides a baseline picture:
Disparaging comments or slurs related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, pregnancy status, veteran status, marital status, body size, age, race, national origin, ethnic origin, nationality, immigration status, language, religion or lack thereof, or other identity marker.

The Court took into consideration the RMB Guidelines.

The Court took into consideration the post made by NationStates moderation here.

The Court took into consideration prior rulings by the Court here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The Court opines the following:

On Standing
The petitioner was the one directly impacted by the government actions and policies that the Court has been asked to review. The petitioner’s posts were suppressed twice, once by Kastonvia, the Lead Gameside Advocate, and once by MadJack, the Delegate. The petitioner was also informed that subsequent posts of that nature, that is, transphobic posts, would be suppressed as well. There is no question of proper standing in this case.

On the Court’s Prior Ruling on the Delegate’s Authority to Staff the Executive Branch
This is not the first time the Court has been asked to review government action that the petitioner alleges violated their freedom of speech. It previously ruled in On the Delegate’s Authority to Staff the Executive Branch that it could not directly answer the question of whether the delegate violated the petitioner’s freedom of speech, so as not to prejudice any future criminal trial, and because the information needed to determine such a question would be best gathered and considered through the criminal trial process. We appreciate that any potential criminal case would undoubtedly take into account this ruling’s determination that MadJack and Kastonvia engaged in unconstitutional actions – as it should. But we must echo Justice Eluvatar from his dissent in that case. The facts that must be discovered and considered in such a criminal trial would aim to prove more than simply whether or not the actions committed were unconstitutional. Such a trial would be concerned with intent and possible deliberate malfeasance. Gross Misconduct is a very different charge than simply identifying whether or not some act is unconstitutional, as it requires looking beyond case law and prior precedent and how the two are applied to what is readily available to us when examining the question brought by the petitioner.

The Court was right to note that a request for review is not the proper venue to consider evidence intended to prove a case at a criminal trial, or to consider the questions relevant to that trial. But that does not preclude this Court from answering the question posed by DiamondComodo, nor does it preclude this Court from examining evidence relevant to determining strictly whether a constitutional violation occurred. The context in which we view what is provided in briefs, or what is publicly available to us, is very different from the context of a criminal trial. The Constitution charges us with answering his query and determining the legality of the actions of government officials. The possibility of a future criminal trial does not make free speech queries immune from this Court’s consideration. As Justice Eluvatar noted, if this Court believes it cannot consider a question, then it should not answer that question. And the Court erred in not doing so back then. We hereby overturn this portion of the ruling. The ruling’s conclusion, that the Delegate has broad authority to manage the executive staff, and that free speech is more limited for government officials, is still correct, and still useful in navigating the question before us in this review.

On the Authority to Suppress Posts
The Legal Code grants broad authority to the Delegate to “regulate the Regional Message Board as they see fit” in its onsite authority section. The petitioner asks the Court to review the use of the suppression power, which is a function of regional officer permissions to help moderate the Regional Message Board in The North Pacific. This message board is located squarely in space controlled not by The North Pacific, but by NationStates itself, and is what constitutes the core and almost entirety of the region’s gameside community. Suppression is included in what the Legal Code refers to as Regional Powers, which also includes border control, or the ability to eject and ban nations from the region. All of these powers are controlled and assigned by the Delegate and may be utilized in executing the Delegate’s regulation of the Regional Message Board. Suppression is a tool successive delegates have made available to every member of their cabinet since the creation of regional officers, and is the primary method of moderating the Regional Message Board, particularly given the Legal Code’s strict limitations to the use of border control powers. This power is not new, and predates the provisions added to the onsite authority laws for regional officers, but its use has spread dramatically since then. The Court recognizes that the Delegate has explicit authority to use these Regional Powers, including suppression. However, the onsite authority provisions also establish a right for judicial review of this regulation, which suggests that despite having the authority to use these powers, the Delegate may nevertheless use them improperly, and in ways contrary to the Bill of Rights.

On the Constitutionality of Suppression of Posts
The Court has ruled twice on the use of suppression power before. In its ruling in On the Delegate’s Authority to Staff the Executive Branch, the Court overturned a previous ruling, On the Suppression of Posts on the Regional Message Board, as it did not accept the reasoning that because the suppression of posts was a result of friendly banter, there was no harm done. In fact, the Court ruled that suppressing posts is inherently harmful, as suppressing free speech in any way is inherently harmful. But the Court has also ruled, repeatedly, that there are sometimes situations where speech may be restricted. What these rulings have in common is that speech is limited when allowing unfettered free speech would cause greater harm to the community or the proper functioning of the government. Free speech concerns must be balanced against other rights, and residents are not free to say whatever they want regardless of the context. The Court ruled in On the Speaker’s Power to End Debate that ending debate would necessarily restrict the free speech of citizens, but was nevertheless permitted because those free speech rights must be balanced against maintaining order in the Regional Assembly and fostering civilized debate, and reiterated that position in On the Use of the Speaker’s Power to End Debate and On the Speaker’s Power to Schedule Votes. It ruled in On Alterations to the Citizenship Oath that requiring the citizenship oath to be taken as written without permitting an identifier of choice did not violate free speech, and that altering the oath would render it invalid when considering other areas of law that mandated and defined the oath. In every case, the free speech rights of citizens were balanced against continued functional and orderly government. This logic was also present in the ruling in On the Delegate’s Authority to Staff the Executive Branch, which established that a nation’s free speech rights do not allow government officials to act contrary to their oaths, their tasks, or the direction of their superiors if that speech would contradict official government speech and their role as a member of the government. When acting in an official capacity and utilizing the government’s voice, a nation’s own personal voice must be balanced against their official role.

Free speech, then, is not without its limits. However, these rulings were all directly related to government speech or speech that could interfere with proper execution of government business. That is not the case with the petitioner’s situation, which is a resident expressing his opinion in public through two posts on the Regional Message Board and having those posts literally suppressed by two government officials. Given how often suppression is used, and how available it is to a variety of government officials over the years, it is easy to see how this power could have been abused or caused residents to rush to this Court for relief. And yet, for the better part of five years, that has not been the case. Instead, the moderation of the Regional Message Board has grown more sophisticated. Successive delegates have developed and built on the RMB Guidelines, which serve as a kind of equivalent to the more advanced and comprehensive TNP Community Guidelines that exist for The North Pacific’s offsite properties. Customs have developed and expectations have taken root by the residents who frequent the Regional Message Board. To name but one example, many residents, whether officially part of the region’s Gameside Advocates or not, will frequently point out and report instances where residents post more than once on the Regional Message Board successively. The RMB Guidelines specify that such posts may be subject to suppression, as well as any quoting of suppressed posts that violated the guidelines. It is wholly expected by the residents that the suppression will take place, and even that this is a good thing. This aspect of gameside culture is well-known, accepted, and commonplace.

Of course, that does not mean the regular occurrence of suppression is necessarily permissible under this Constitution, but it does underscore that suppression of posts is crucial and essential to the gameside community’s sense of order and how they, like the Regional Assembly on the forum, regulate a civilized place for public discussion that mitigates as much chaos as possible. To say that suppression in all cases is unconstitutional as a violation of free speech would have a similar negative impact on the Regional Message Board as it would on discussions in the Regional Assembly or conversation in the region’s Discord server. This Court looks to its prior rulings to assert that suppression, in general, is not an inherent violation of the Bill of Rights.

On the Constitutionality of Suppressing Specific Forms of Speech
It is not enough to say that suppression of posts is constitutional in the abstract. Prior rulings identify exceptions to what is an otherwise very broad freedom enshrined in our Bill of Rights. While the Delegate and the Lead Gameside Advocate had the authority to suppress the petitioner’s posts and that authority is consistent with the Constitution, the content of the speech is obviously where the line will be drawn. The Delegate would be hard-pressed to get away with this suppression, for instance, if the content of the post was concerned with political speech in the context of regional politics. The very clear exception to the Delegate’s regulation “as they see fit” is prohibiting political speech of this nature. But it is also not enough for the resident doing the posting to claim an otherwise offensive or actionable post is meant to comment on regional politics. The Legal Code has clear provisions permitting the Delegate to eject and ban nations which violate NationStates rules, so simply suppressing such posts is certainly permitted, even if the resident tries to wrap their violative posts in the trappings of “TNP politics.” Admittedly, it is not always easy to determine when this is occurring. Moderation by its nature often involves making judgment calls, and when those calls are challenged, they must be judged on a case by case basis.

While this Court did consider the brief submitted by Dreadton which asserted a Nationstates rule was violated, we believe the asserted offense, flamebaiting, to have been incorrect. Flamebaiting is understood to involve the targeting of a specific player, which the petitioner does not appear to have done. In our opinion, the posts could instead be examples of what NationStates constitutes as trolling. We draw this conclusion based on the nature of the posts themselves, which would invite outrage and disagreement and can clearly be seen to have angered many members of the community, particularly as they were unprompted and do not fit in any proper context that helps make better sense of them. Furthermore, the stated intent of the petitioner in making those posts is also known, as the petitioner admitted that he made the posts out of anger and acknowledges that the posts should not have been made. Naturally there is a great deal of subjective reasoning in determining whether these posts truly violate NationStates rules, but this Court recognizes that in suppressing posts that are deemed to violate NationStates rules, the Delegate would be acting with great restraint, given the Legal Code permits even more drastic action in response. In this particular case, however, neither the Delegate nor the Lead Gameside Advocate asserted the petitioner violated any NationStates rules. In addition, the RMB Guidelines do not contain a list similar to the NationStates rules that the Delegate or his officials could cite as being violated. Any similar list found in the TNP Community Guidelines would also not apply, despite Dreadton’s brief bringing them up, as they are explicitly designed for the region’s offsite properties and enforced by TNP’s administration team.

That being said, in seeking to foster constructive, positive dialogue and keeping the peace in the community, the Delegate has a great deal of leeway in moderating the Regional Message Board. It is not just this Court which believes this. Considering that our laws explicitly allow the Delegate to take action based on perceived violations of NationStates rules, we must also consider the Delegate’s relationship with the typical authority for such moderation of the gameside community, the NationStates moderators themselves. It would be unreasonable to assert that if a NationStates moderator chooses not to respond to a post reported on the Regional Message Board, the post is not actionable. Given the subjective nature of many posts, and the sheer number of them, not to mention the many other regions to moderate outside of The North Pacific, it would be unreasonable to expect every instance of moderation to be handled by NationStates moderators. It is expected for the region itself to pick up the slack, as can be seen in a post made by Sedgistan on the NationStates forum: “Players can manage an element of self-moderation over their RMBs, with the ability to suppress posts and eject/ban troublemakers. That means that minor issues are left to founders/delegates to sort out." We also know this view is still held by moderation all these years later, as was evident by the recent telegram shared with the Court by Dreadton and Bootsie. Moderation held that they only get involved for “egregious” spam, one of the most frequent causes of reports to moderation. Sedgistan goes on to say that "Regions also have certain cultures to them, reflected on their RMBs," and then names specific examples of how what is actionable in one community may not be in another. Much of our culture is in our robust legal culture and our broad freedom of speech. But our laws cannot be consistently applied to every single specific case of questionable posts. Every situation requires its own consideration, and sometimes it comes down to our Delegate and regional officers to make the call that would otherwise be for NationStates moderation.

Finally, there is the subject matter of the posts to consider. Clearly these posts were unrelated to any discussion of regional politics and had nothing to do with the player’s engagement with other players in their capacity as a nation residing in the region or the game of NationStates. The subject spoke to issues outside of the game, the kind of subject that often prompts challenges to moderation in the first place. The posts were transphobic in nature, and deeply offensive to many members of the community. When acting in a capacity as a moderator on the Regional Message Board, the Delegate has the most leeway in terms of our region’s laws, as these laws are stretched to their limits when considering subjects that are strictly outside of the framework of the game in which they were created. This does not mean that any action the Delegate or the regional officers take on speech in this context cannot be reviewed by this Court, as there are any number of benign topics that would not warrant shutting down speech. One could imagine a scenario where the oft-cited debate on whether pineapple can be on a pizza might lead the Delegate to suppress posts he disagrees with. This has nothing to do with regional politics after all, and can be seen as a player speaking in their capacity as a person playing NationStates. But as with the old ruling overturned by the Court, the seemingly harmless nature of the posts and the perceived joking on the part of the Delegate, by pretending to have a heavy hand on the topic, would not be permissible limits to speech.

The petitioner’s posts were deliberately inflammatory and designed to inflict distress, they violated the general good-natured character of the community and defied the inclusive and kind environment the Delegate deliberately intended to foster with his policies and practices. The Delegate has the legal authority to regulate the Regional Message Board and the constitutional authority to restrict some forms of speech in the interest of the greater good of the community. And the Delegate has a secondary role as a moderator for the gameside community in addition to or in the absence of NationStates moderation, particularly in the most subjective or low priority situations as with this one. We find that the petitioner’s rights under the Bill of Rights were not violated by the suppression of his posts.

On Extralegal Moderation
As we have already stated, this Court is not the place to adjudicate the specifics of criminal behavior in the context of the Legal Code, which is best suited for a criminal trial. But we are also cognizant of the difficulty in applying the Legal Code to situations which are properly under the jurisdiction of NationStates itself. Everywhere else in the region, such extralegal moderation concerns are rightfully handled by the administrative team and governed by the TNP Community Guidelines. But in the case of the Regional Message Board, extralegal moderation is handled by NationStates moderation. And when they cannot act, only the Delegate and those with the power to suppress, eject, or ban can. This Court cannot speak to constitutionality or criminal concerns in this context and affirms what is already the understanding of The North Pacific’s government and much of its community: there are some problems and actions way outside the scope of our ability to adjudicate, and outside the scope of the region’s Constitution. Action taken by the Delegate or regional officers in response to these issues is not reviewable by this Court and should never be accepted by this Court if presented in the form of a request for review. The problem is telling the difference, a problem exacerbated by the nature of the Regional Message Board.

This Court does not mean to suggest that officials will “know it when they see it,” though the topic and severity of the content is an important guidepost in determining the nature of legally actionable or extralegally actionable posts. Posts clearly related to regional events, government officials, policies, laws, elections, and in the context of the game of NationStates itself, all would be legally actionable. Posts discussing all of the above outside of the context of NationStates, especially referring to players controlling the nations in a strictly “real life” context, are more likely to be extralegally actionable. Extreme language or emotion, particularly if they rise to a threatening or personally concerning level, would also warrant extralegal review. When considering such posts, NationStates rules should be consulted, and TNP Community Guidelines can also serve as a point of reference. If none of these rules are clearly violated, the posts are likely legally actionable, and the Delegate and regional officers may be subject to judicial review. These are hardly exhaustive examples, but we hope they serve as an aid in determining how to approach handling such posts in the future.

On the Court’s Prior Ruling on the Constitutionality of Prohibiting Sedition
The Court ruled in 2013 that the Bill of Rights established a right to free speech that cannot be infringed, except in emergency situations per Section 11 of the Bill of Rights. This ruling was cited by the petitioner as the primary supporting ruling for his assertion that his freedom of speech rights were violated, and was also addressed by Zyvetskistaahn in his brief. That brief goes on to identify a tension that exists between that ruling and a number of subsequent cases related to free speech. This is an accurate observation. That 2013 ruling was short and to the point, and left absolutely no doubt that freedom of speech could never be abridged. The Court, in properly following the precedent set by this ruling, would have no choice in every subsequent free speech case but to conclude that virtually no limits could be placed on free speech at all. And yet, that is not what happened. In every subsequent ruling on free speech, this Court conveniently forgot that this ruling existed. Instead of an absolute firewall preventing any limitation to speech, we have years of precedent upholding reasonable limits to free speech. Clearly this Court has already effectively overturned this ruling, but it is time to do so properly. We hereby overturn this ruling in its entirety.

The Court arrived at the correct conclusion in that ruling, but did so in an overly broad manner. The law prohibiting sedition was unconstitutional, not because no limits can be placed on free speech at all, but because the limits placed on speech were too great. Such a law would have chilled speech critical of the government, and led residents to doubt what was safe to say publicly. As we noted earlier, the Legal Code clearly protects speech made in the context of TNP politics. Other provisions protect against speech that enters the realm of treason, and the behavior that the sedition law seemed to target can be properly addressed without such an additional provision. With other means available, and an overly broad restriction to political speech that is clearly protected, there was every reason to strike down that law. But there is also every reason to be cautious and deliberate when doing so, in order to avoid being unable to effectively regulate or govern the region when other kinds of harm may be done to the community, and that is what the prior ruling risked doing.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on April 29, 2022.
 
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Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Definition of a Candidate
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Pallaith, joined by Justice Kronos and THO TlomzKrano, with Justice Sil Dorsett recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Dreadton

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Sil Dorsett

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Zyvetskistaahn

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Legal Code of The North Pacific.

Chapter 4: Election and Appointment Procedure

Section 4.2: Election Law Definitions


7. “Candidates” are those citizens who, during the period of the election designated for candidacy declarations, declare themselves or accept a nomination by another citizen as a candidate for an office to be chosen at that election.

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10. An “absence” in an office means that the holder of the office is by law temporarily prevented from exercising the duties of their office. An absent officer may be replaced for the duration of their absence as provided by the Constitution, this Legal Code, or a rule adopted by the appropriate body.

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Section 4.3: The Election Commission

15. An Election Commissioner will be considered absent during any election in which they are a candidate, or during which their term started or is scheduled to end. Absent Election Commissioners may not supervise an election or participate in any decisions made by the Election Commission as a whole.

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Section 4.4: Overall Election Law

21. Candidates may withdraw from the ballot anytime during an election.

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24. Should a majority vote to reopen nominations for a given race, a further two days will be provided for candidacy declarations.

25. Candidates for that race whose names appeared on the first ballot will retain their candidacy unless they choose to withdraw.

The Court took into consideration the Rules of the Election Commission.

The Court took into consideration prior rulings by the Court here, here, and here.



The Court opines the following:

On Standing

The petitioner is a member of the Election Commission and was a candidate in the May 2022 General Election, until he withdrew from the race. He was then temporarily given access to the commission’s counting spreadsheet before the Chief Election Commissioner revoked that access and treated him as absent from the Election Commission after the petitioner expressed his concern with the legality of allowing him to continue to serve. There is no question of proper standing in this case.

On the Definition of a Candidate
The Legal Code defines candidates in elections as citizens who declare themselves candidates or accept a nomination for office during the candidacy declaration process. The petitioner was a citizen who declared himself a candidate for Delegate in the May 2022 General Election. According to the Legal Code’s definition, he was a candidate. Clearly, in both the logical and legal sense, he was a candidate for office. Because the petitioner also served on the Election Commission, he was considered absent from the commission by virtue of being a candidate for office. The following day, he withdrew his candidacy while the declaration process was still ongoing. Initially he was permitted access to the commission’s spreadsheet, as he was no longer a candidate, but the petitioner felt that his candidacy status was in doubt as a strict reading of the Legal Code’s definition for candidate could be construed to still consider himself one despite his decision to withdraw. The Court is therefore asked to confirm whether or not a candidate who at first declared his candidacy for Delegate but then withdrew from the race is nonetheless still legally a candidate for office. We find that a candidate who withdraws from an election is no longer a candidate for office.

The Court has previously ruled on questions concerning the proper administration of elections. It has always held that to leave a candidate’s name off the ballot would be a violation of the candidate’s rights under the Bill of Rights. Elections have been restarted for missing a candidate’s name, even when that error was caught early and the ballot was amended to add the missing name, as happened in our ruling On Leaving a Candidate’s Name off the Ballot. For us to rule that someone is still legally a candidate despite their having withdrawn from the race would create a bizarre scenario: either the candidate would need to be added to the ballot, despite a clear preference not to be on it, in which case we would need to restart an election to have it added; or we would allow the election to continue and create a type of candidate that can be left off a ballot, but can still affect other portions of the Legal Code that have to do with candidates.

On Implicit Provisions

The question before the Court is an example of reading too much into explicit provisions in the Legal Code without consideration to its implicit ones. While it is important to be careful when attempting to assume what the law actually means when such meaning may conflict with a plain reading of the law, we must also recognize when what is written in the law involves implicit impacts that need not be explicitly stated. As was argued in the brief filed by Zyvetskistaahn, the definition of candidate in the Legal Code does not need to explicitly carve out individuals who have not been citizens long enough to qualify for office, or who are judicially barred from being citizens. Other provisions in the law make it clear that such citizens would not qualify as candidates, despite the definition of citizen making no mention of these scenarios. Similarly, everyone would agree that despite no formal process being laid out for the resignation of government officials, they may nevertheless resign from their offices, and would not continue to be considered occupants of their office just because the provisions establishing their powers and parameters do not mention the possibility of resignation.

The Legal Code contains explicit provisions about withdrawing candidacy: one that permits withdrawal to happen at any point in an election; and one that excludes candidates from being included on the ballot when a majority votes to reopen nominations if they withdraw from the race. The first provision, as can be seen when reading back the RA’s debate of the Legal Code amendment that led to this wording, was designed to eliminate situations where withdrawal led to restarted elections, and avoided specific periods where withdrawal was allowed and others where it was not. Clarity in language helped facilitate the goal of avoiding unnecessary disruptions in elections. The second provision eliminated the confusion candidates may have as to whether or not they should re-declare their candidacy if a majority voted to reopen nomination. Requiring this, or automatically including the same candidates on the re-opened ballot, are both reasonable ways to handle the situation, so one solution was chosen to avoid any doubt.

The fact that these provisions are explicit should not be construed as signifying something is missing from the definition of candidate. In both cases, an implicit feature of elections, the ability of candidates to withdraw, was made explicit to help citizens better understand how to navigate potentially tricky situations, not because there is an assumption that withdrawal must be directly addressed and spelled out in great detail as a general rule. A candidate can obviously withdraw their name from a ballot, and therefore cease to be a candidate.

On Absences from the Election Commission

Election Commissioners who are candidates for an office are considered absent from the commission. Since the petitioner withdrew his candidacy, he was no longer a candidate when he was permitted access to the commission spreadsheet. Therefore, we find that the Chief Election Commissioner’s revocation of the petitioner’s access to the commission’s tools was made in error, as the petitioner should not have been considered absent from the Election Commission. As a current member of the Election Commission, and one who is not barred from service in any other way, the petitioner should have his access to the commission’s spreadsheet restored and continue his service on the Election Commission.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on May 10, 2022.
 
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Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Ability of the Speaker to Retract Citizenship
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Kronos, joined by Justices Sil Dorsett and Lord Dominator

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Fregerson.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here and its addendum here by Pallaith.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Zyvetskitstaahn.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of the North Pacific:

Article 2. The Regional Assembly

10. The Speaker may appoint deputies to assist them in the execution of any of their powers and duties. Appointment of deputies may be regulated by law and the rules of the Regional Assembly.

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Article 4. The Court

2. Reviews of laws or government policies and actions must be made by request of an affected party unless there is a compelling regional interest in resolving it.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Chapter 6: Regional Assembly Statutes

Section 6.1: Citizenship Applications


7. The Speaker will reject applicants who fail an evaluation by either forum administration or the Vice Delegate.

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16. The Speaker will process applications within 14 days. If an applicant has not been approved or rejected within that time, they will be automatically granted citizenship.

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Section 6.2: Administration and Loss of Citizenship

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18. The Speaker will promptly remove any citizens whose removal is ordered by the Court, or whose registered nations in The North Pacific leave or ceases to exist.
19. The Speaker will promptly remove any citizens who, for over 30 consecutive days, neither post on the regional forum, nor post on the regional message board with their registered nations.
20. The Speaker will promptly remove any citizens whose registered nations in The North Pacific are not in the World Assembly, except as part of an operation with the North Pacific Army, if their citizenship was granted by the Regional Assembly after failing an evaluation by forum administration.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Regional Assembly Rules:
Section 3. Deputy Speaker and Vacancies

2. Unless otherwise specified by law, the Speaker may delegate any of their powers and duties to the Deputy Speaker. Delegation under this section does not relieve the Speaker of any of their powers and duties. Any provisions of law related to the powers and duties of the Speaker, when exercised by the Deputy Speaker under the provisions of this clause, shall apply to the Deputy Speaker.

The Court took into consideration the post made by forum administration here.

The Court took into consideration the post made by Deputy Speaker Caius here.

The Court took into consideration the post made by Speaker Fregerson here.

The Court took into consideration prior rulings of the Court here, here, and here.

The Court opines the following:


On Standing

The Speaker filed an inquiry for review of the granting of citizenship for The Land of Broken Dreams by Deputy Speaker Caius and the question of whether or not the Speaker has the legal authority to retract a citizenship granted in error. Article 4.2 of the Constitution says reviews of laws or government policies and actions must be made by request of an affected party unless there is compelling regional interest. The definition of an affected party comes from case law ruled in On Standing and the Definition of Affected Party which says an affected party, with respect to one's ability to request judicial review, is someone who reasonably perceives that their rights have been infringed through action or inaction undertaken by a governmental body or bodies. An affected party also, according to the ruling, includes those affected, adversely or otherwise, by laws passed by the regional assembly and policies enacted by the executive and judicial branches of government. Considering this, the Court finds that the Speaker has no personal standing in this review because their rights have not been infringed upon through the actions taken nor have those actions personally affected them in such a way as to make them perceive that their rights were violated.

However, there is a compelling regional interest both in providing clarity to the citizenship process regarding the Speaker's abilities to grant and remove citizenship from a person, and in upholding the integrity of the citizenship process to maintain the integrity of our regional security. With Article 4.2 of the Constitution including the regional interest exception, this case was accepted.

On the Granting of Citizenship

As said in the petitioner’s request, Section 6.1 of the Legal Code governs the process of citizenship. Within the citizenship process evaluations conducted by the Vice Delegate and Administration take place. Should any of these evaluations fail, the Speaker's Office is bound by Section 6.1.7 of the Legal Code to reject the application. In this case, the nation The Land of Broken Dreams failed the administrative evaluation, but their citizenship was officially granted by the Speaker’s Office. For this reason, the Court finds that granting citizenship to The Land of Broken Dreams was unlawful.

On the Retraction of Citizenship

While Section 6.1 of the Legal Code governs the process of how citizenship may be obtained, Section 6.2 of the Legal Code governs the various ways in which citizenship can be removed. The Court agrees with the interpretation that the list of provisions in Section 6.2 is exhaustive and accounts specifically for the provisions within it. Bearing this in mind, it can be seen clearly that the Speaker has the legal authority to remove citizenships so long as they fully meet any of the criteria set in Section 6.2.18-20. As was argued, removing citizenship after granting citizenship in error is not among the aforementioned provisions.

Thus, The Court finds that the retraction of citizenship from The Land of Broken Dreams was unlawful.

There was an interpretation presented to the Court involving Section 6.1.16. This section of the Legal Code states that the Speaker's Office has 14 days to accept or reject an application. If an application does not receive a formal acceptance or rejection after the 14 day period, citizenship is granted automatically. The interpretation presented to the Court argued that the 14 day period does not end after citizenship is granted or rejected. Instead, it is argued that the 14 day period continues from beginning to end allowing the Speaker's Office to use any remaining time in the period to correct any mistakes like granting citizenship in error. This cannot be the case. There is no way to grasp this interpretation from the law or regional custom. In the ruling On Promptness and the Time at which Regional Assembly Membership Begins and Ends an applicant is not accepted or rejected until the Speaker's Office declares it. The exception to this being the 14 day period in which case citizenship is automatically granted if the Speaker’s Office does not give an official acceptance or rejection at all. We take this to mean that a citizen’s application becomes final in two ways: (1) When the Speaker's Office gives an official notice of acceptance or rejection, and (2) if the 14 day period expires without an official response from the Speaker’s Office. As the Court took into account common practice at the time of the Promptness ruling, we shall do the same. Common practice shows that the official declaration of acceptance or rejection from the Speaker’s Office is considered final. Once an official acceptance or rejection is handed down by the Speaker's Office, the application is considered fully processed. The Speaker’s Office does not have the legal room to alter an application's status after the official declaration has been given. Therefore, the law, court precedent, and common practice currently do not make room for the possibility that this presented interpretation can exist.

On the Solution

As it was unlawful to grant citizenship to The Land of Broken Dreams and unlawful to retract it, and the Speaker’s Office cannot legally undo these unlawful actions, it now falls to the Court to decide a solution to the issue at hand. In the ruling of On the Permanence of Rejected Applications for the Regional Assembly it was decided that despite the granting of membership for Treize_Dreizehn into the Regional Assembly, or becoming a citizen, being unlawful, they could continue to hold membership until such a time as they lost citizenship naturally. The main factor behind this decision was that Treize had been acting as a member of the Regional Assembly in good faith for four months and was heavily involved in the Regional Assembly and the Attorney General's Office. To undo their past actions, along with their citizenship, would require a redo of every vote they ever participated in. Performing this, the Court ruled, was impractical, impossible, and an infringement of the Bill of Rights.

The Court continues to agree with this opinion and makes note of a key difference in this case. That difference being the amount of time The Land of Broken Dreams had been a citizen and the amount of involvement they have in the region so far. As it was argued in a brief, citizenship for The Land of Broken Dreams was accepted on May 19th. There is no evidence in the briefs that support the argument that good faith applies to this case nor does The Land of Broken Dreams in this case find themselves in a similar position to Treize as described in case law. As was argued in brief, a quick glance at the nation's activity shows they have not been seen on the forum since May 16th. Therefore they could not have voted in any elections or Assembly votes that date between May 16th and present day so there are no actions to consider.

Therefore, The Court rules the retraction of citizenship from The Land of Broken Dreams overturned. Following this, it is ordered that the citizenship of The Land of Broken Dreams be removed in accordance with Section 6.2.18 of the Legal Code. The Land of Broken Dreams should be notified by the Speaker's Office of their ability to reapply for citizenship and, if they are formally rejected through legal means, they may appeal their rejection in accordance with regional law.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on June 7, 2022.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Definition of Treaties and Delegate's Authority to Sanction Residents
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Dreadton, joined by Justice Attempted Socialism and THO Kronos, with Justice Lord Dominator recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Vivanco.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here, here, and here by Pallaith.
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Comfed.
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Gorundu.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 1. Bill of Rights
1. All nations are guaranteed the rights defined by the Bill of Rights.

Article 2. The Regional Assembly
1. Resident means any person with a nation in the region of The North Pacific.

Article 3. The Delegate and Vice Delegate
3. The Delegate may negotiate treaties with foreign powers or propose the repeal of existing treaties. No treaty will come into effect or be repealed unless approved by a two-thirds majority vote of the Regional Assembly.

4. The Delegate may propose a declaration of war on foreign powers to the Regional Assembly. If it is approved by a two-thirds majority vote, a state of war will exist until it is repealed by a majority vote of the Regional Assembly.

Article 6. General Provisions
17. No law or government policy may contradict this constitution.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:
1. All Nations of The North Pacific are sovereign. Each Nation has the right of self-determination in that Nation's domestic policies, including, but not limited to, issue selection and WA membership.

2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.

5. All Nations of The North Pacific have the right to be protected against the abuse of powers by any official of a government authority of the region. Any Nation of The North Pacific has the right to request the recall of any official of a government authority of the region in accordance with the Constitution, that is deemed to have participated in such acts.

6. No Nation shall be held to answer for a crime in a manner not prescribed by the Constitution or the Legal Code. No Nation shall be subjected to being twice put in jeopardy for the same offense. No Nation shall ever be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against itself.

11. No governmental authority of the region has the power to suspend or disregard the Constitution or the Legal Code. In the event of an actual emergency, the governmental authorities of the region, with the express consent of the Nations of the region or their representatives, is authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is consistent as practicable with the pertinent provisions of the Constitution.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Section 7.7: Diplomacy
45. The Delegate may choose to designate a region or organization to be prohibited from creating in-game embassies and forum embassies, hosting cultural events together or other formal collaborations with The North Pacific with a majority of the Regional Assembly confirming such.
46. These prohibitions may be repealed with a majority vote of the Regional Assembly.
47. Regions exempted by the Regional Assembly from the restrictions on the North Pacific Army will automatically have the diplomatic restrictions imposed on them.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of Modern Gameplay Compact:
Section III - Mutual Defense
5. In addition to military assistance in case of military attacks, signatories are strongly encouraged to assist in appropriate retaliation against the hostile party, through the World Assembly, other military actions, diplomatic sanctions, or whatever course of action is agreed upon by the signatories.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of On the Constitutionality of the Reject Fascism Act :
The Court finds that no conflict exists between these because the R.F.B. does not target the speech of those applying for citizenship. The R.F.B. specifically targets applicants for their affiliation with a group (Fascists) and upon the affirmative action of promoting said group. The bill that is now Chapter 6, Section 6.1, Clause 6 in no way bars or punishes the ability of people to speak about anything only requiring a rejection for those who "identifies as" (affiliation) or "engages in the promotion" (action) neither of which are protected by the Bill of Rights or the Constitution.

Clause 2 of the Bill of Rights contains 3 freedom of “speech”, “press” and “expression of religion” none of which protect the above, Clause 9 only refers to “fair and equal treatment and protection” in relation to the actions of members of the government, a law can not violate Clause 9 because it only guarantees that the government will apply the laws to any “nations of The North Pacific” in an “equal and fair” manner, it would only be a violation of Clause 9 to selectively enforce the laws as they are written.

The Court opines the following:[/I][/B]

Standing​


Petitioner Vivanco is duly appointed Court Examiner in accordance with Section 3.6 of the legal code. They have universal standing in all cases of Judicial Review. As such the petitioner has standing.

On Regional Interest​

The petitioner brings forth an act of the Executive that binds the region in a course of action and has application and impact on the Residents of the Region. The case brings forth several valid legal questions:
1. Does the action taken by the Delegate meet the requirements to be considered a treaty under the law?
2. Are the actions taken by the Delegate against residents of TNP via this action legal under the law?

The matter is of regional Interest, presenting valid legal questions that require the Court's intervention.

Statement of Facts​


Shortly after the events in Equilism, the Delegate of the North Pacific released a joint statement with the heads of several other regions. This statement announced sanctions against members of two regions, the Brotherhood of Malice and the Black Hawks. It also applied to any resident of the North Pacific who may have ties to, residency in, or a history with the proscribed regions. These sanctions bars the signatories from participating in military operations and cultural events or hosting members of the proscribed regions. It also binds the signatories to oppose any World Assembly resolutions from members of the proscribed regions. The Delegate made clear that these sanctions applied to residents of the North Pacific who have ties with the two regions during regional discussion of the matter.

On the Definition of Treaty​


Before the Court can make a determination on the matter before us, we must determine what a treaty is. The Constitution offers us some limited information in Article 3, Section 3, “The Delegate may negotiate treaties with foreign powers or propose the repeal of existing treaties.” This establishes a treaty as an agreement between the North Pacific and a foreign power. Taken in a plain reading, this would mean any agreement between the North Pacific and any foreign power is a treaty and must be voted on by the Regional Assembly. Such an interpretation would be impractical and absurd. Absent further clarification in the Constitution or the Legal Code from the Regional Assembly, the Court must turn to the intent and historical application of the clause.

Looking to the intent of the clause, the Court turns to the discussion in the Regional Assembly on the adoption of the current Constitution in 2015 and the subsequent amendment in 2022 and finds little guidance. The interpretation of and application of the treaty clause was apparently well established in previous iteration of the regions laws, and the only real question the Assembly had was on if a Treaty should be repealed with or without initiation by the sitting Delegate. Therefore the Court dove into the historical records to clarify this matter.

As far back as the 2005 Constitution, treaties were initiated by the sitting executive authority and addressed the diplomatic and military relationships with other regions. Article 2, Section 4, of the 2005 Constitution (https://forum.thenorthpacific.org/topic/630027/#post-83300) and TNP Law 9 (https://forum.thenorthpacific.org/topic/630028/#post-83315) formulated treaties as diplomatic, military, or both. From the earliest treaties (the Lion Star Pact https://forum.thenorthpacific.org/topic/630030/#post-83322) to the treaties used today, there is a common formula that is used.
  1. A recognition between the regions of the lawful governments.
  2. Statements on the terms of the treaty.
  3. Signed by the Executive Authority of each region.
  4. Formal adoption by the legal methods of signatories.
The Court notes that over time, embassy agreements moved from the formal treaty process to a “handshake” agreement and a formal policy from the executive.

The Court generally defines a treaty, until such time the Regional Assembly elects to formulate a definition, as the following:

A treaty is an agreement signed, ratified, or adhered to between the North Pacific and one or more foreign sovereigns, that will remain in effect indefinitely until either formally revoked or irreparable breached, and which outlines binding obligations and responsibilities of the signatories.

On the Definition of Sanctions​


Sanctions are not called out by name within the law, but the Court notes the intent behind Section 7.7 of the Legal Code. Within the Regional Assembly debate on this law, it is clear to the court that this established a formal legal procedure to indefinitely impose sanctions on regions hostile to the North Pacific. The law contemplates two forms of sanctions. The first is an informal sanction that can be revoked at any time by the Delegate. The second being a formal sanction, which requires Regional Assembly approval to impose or remove. The law further states that sanctions are automatically imposed upon regions that are exempt by the Regional Assembly from use of force restrictions by the North Pacific Army. After reviewing the law, debate, and the submitted briefs in this review, it is clear that sanctions are a punitive measure taken by the executive against a foreign region, that may or may not be done in a formal manner.

With these terms in mind, the Court turns to the first matter at hand.

On the Delegate’s statement on the events in Equilism​


Since all laws and government policy are subservient to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (Constitution, Article 1, Section 1 & Constitution, Article 6, Section 17), the Court begins its analysis of the matter by determining if the statement meets the criteria of a treaty.

We evaluate the first condition of the treaty process which is the recognition between lawful governments. The Court finds that there is an abundance of evidence to support this. First, the existing treaty known as the Modern Gameplay Compact, establishes recognition of the signatories as the lawful governments of their respective regions. The Delegate, in their brief, further supports this, “(...) someone who was at the table when they were discussed among the regions of the Modern Gameplay Compact (MGC) (...)” Even if no treaty exists, the Court finds that there is mutual recognition between the government of the North Pacific and the respective signatories of the statement. It is clear from the statement and from the Delegates brief that the government has recognized the signatories on the international and internal political stage.

The second part is the statement on the terms of the treaty and here the Statement continues to meet the standards set above. The terms of the statement bar the signatories from conducting military operations, cultural events, and supporting WA proposals authored by the proscribed regions and peoples. However, there are no penalties for non-compliance with the statement outside of conflict with the original Modern Gameplay Compact Treaty.

The third part is the matter which is before us. If this is a treaty, then ratification from the Regional Assembly is required.
The Delegate, in their brief, posited that the sanctions are a policy that is not binding upon The North Pacific outside the Delegate’s right to direct the Executive. Newly elected Delegates can revoke policies instituted by their predecessors, and the Delegate argues that this is true for the sanctions. Should the Delegate elect to join or issue sanctions in partnership with other signatories, and not have it fall under the requirements of a treaty, the Delegate should clearly state within the text of the sanctions that they are non-binding on the government and can be revoked at any time.


Holding​

For the reasons outlined above, the Court would hold that if this Statement was a stand alone statement it would be considered a treaty under our laws. The Statement establishes an agreement between the North Pacific and foreign sovereigns, it has a statement of terms, and it is held as a responsibility between regions. Nominally, this would require the Regional Assembly to hold a vote on ratification of this course of action. But this statement does not stand alone, although it was not briefed, the Modern Gameplay Compact is a ratified treaty that is factorable in this matter. Specifically, these sanctions are already approved and incorporated by Section 3, Subsection 5 of the treaty.

“5. In addition to military assistance in case of military attacks, signatories are strongly encouraged to assist in appropriate retaliation against the hostile party, through the World Assembly, other military actions, diplomatic sanctions, or whatever course of action is agreed upon by the signatories.”

The Delegate outlined in the original statement that all signatories debated and agreed to the sanctions listed in the Statement. As such it is proper to judge it under the above cited clause. It is held by this court that the Delegate’s statement is enforcement of Section 3, Subsection 5 of the Modern Gameplay Compact and does not require further ratification from the Regional Assembly. The Statement in question is an exercise of the cited clause by the Delegate.


On the Delegate’s Ability to Sanction Residents of the North Pacific​


The second issue before us is the Delegates' use of sanctions on residents of the North Pacific due to their association, past or present, with the regions outlined in the statement. These sanctions prevent the resident from participating in the North Pacific military operations, attending government cultural events, being hosted or part of the North Pacific Media shows, and hold the Government to actively work against any World Assembly proposal presented by the resident. During the discussion of the statement and the subsequent brief, the Delegate cites prior court rulings and the Reject Fascism Law to support his decision to sanction residents of the North Pacific.
When a member of government establishes an extrajudicial punishment upon a resident of a region, no matter the context, without prior notice, due process, or recourse, the Court must examine the actions under the strictest of scrutiny. It is the duty of all members of government to ensure the rights of the residents are protected to the fullest extent possible.

On the Right of Free Speech, Association, and Assembly​


Many speech acts receive no protection under the residents right to Free Speech: Perjury, Treason, Espionage are not considered protected speech and such exclusions are so uncontroversial as they often go unlitigated. Others are absolutely protected that any attempt to interfere with them will result with the utmost hostility from the Courts and residents of the region: the right to criticise the Government, the right in political beliefs, World Assembly membership are all protected. The Court has been called to evaluate when speech can be restricted or compelled: Oath taking, Government Disclosures, Promoting Fascism, and violating community standards have all been upheld as various restrictions on speech. With the petition before the Court, we must evaluate the intersection of the Executives authority on Foreign Affairs, its ability to conduct regional and inter-regional events, the citizens right to Free Speech, Assembly, and revisit the Court's ruling on the Right of Association.

When evaluating this matter, the Court looked at its ruling On the Constitutionality of the Reject Fascism Act. The Court finds that part of the reasoning in that case is not in line with the Bill of Rights and must strike parts of it down. The right of association is a part of both the right of Assembly and the right of Free Speech. Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view is undeniably enhanced by group association as this Court has recognized by remarking upon the close nexus between the freedom of Speech and Assembly. It is immaterial whether the beliefs sought to be advanced by association pertain to political, religious or cultural matters, and the executive action which may have the effect of curtailing the freedom to associate is subject to the strictest scrutiny. This does not mean the right to associate is absolute. How can it be when the rights in which it relies on to exist are not absolute?
The right to associate, speech, and assembly can be restricted if certain conditions are met and it is through these restrictions that the Reject Fascism Bill survives. When evaluating and applying these conditions, all deference must be given to the rights of the individual over the rights of the government.
  1. Is there a compelling government interest?
  2. Is this the least restrictive means to achieve the government interest?
  3. Is there prior notice to the individual?
  4. Is there a means for due process and recourse?

The Reject Fascism Act has a compelling government interest. It seeks to prevent proponents of an ideology that promotes hate and harm from having a fertile field to advance its ideology. It is the least restrictive means to achieve this interest as it prevents only the acceptance of citizenship, but not from regional interactions. Individuals are given notice that their promotion of Fascism would bar them from citizenship. Most importantly, a person whom this law is used against is granted due process and recourse through the Vice Delegate appeal process and via the Court. For these reasons, the Reject Fascism Act survives the challenge under the various provisions of the Bill of Rights.

The sanctions issued by the Delegate against residents of the North Pacific do not survive evaluation under the Bill of Rights. Residents are not given prior notice. The Bill of Rights, Section 6 holds that “No Nation shall be held to answer for a crime in a manner not prescribed by the Constitution or the Legal Code.” These sanctions impose a crime, the association with the Brotherhood of Malice and/or the Black Hawks, and a punishment, barred from participation in regional events and instant hostilities against any World Assembly proposal they may present. The conditions required to trigger these provisions, apart from just an association, are not clear. There is no mention of how far back and how much association is needed to trigger these provisions. Does it apply to a person who was active within these regions 3 years ago? Does posting on the regional message board of those regions constitute an association? What about being an Ambassador to one or more of those regions? There is nothing in the sanctions that gives notice to the residents of what actions are being punished except a vague notion of association. Residents are not aware of what level association triggers these sanctions until the Delegate elections to bar them from an event, and only if the Delegate elects to tell them the reason.

The sanctions further fail on granting Due Process and recourse for those affected. There is no process spelled out, such as a trial or appeal to the Court, that an affected party can challenge the determination that they are subjected to these sanctions nor is there an length of time they will be subjected to it. As noted previously, even the Reject Fascism Act has a process in which an affected party can challenge the determination that they are subjected to the act. What the Delegate has done here is created the North Pacific equivalent of a No Fly List. A list which the only real way to find out if you are subjected to it is when it's applied to you, a list in which you can not challenge the process or the fact you are on it, and a list you can not be removed from.

The Court must address, in its ruling, that parts of the sanctions are covered by the explicit and inherent power of the Delegate. The Delegate is the de-facto commander of the North Pacific Army, the Delegate and their designee are charged with maintaining an active and well trained military. To that extent, the Delegate can elect to exclude residents from entering and participating in the military who do not meet the standards set by the executive. This can include activities within regions that are in conflict. The Delegate’s application and creation of their World Assembly policy is one that has grown through tradition, more than law. By the nature of being the World Assembly Delegate, the Delegates vote has more power than the average resident. The Delegate has the right to use that vote as they see fit, until such time as the Regional Assembly chooses to regulate it.

Finally, the Court turns to the exclusion of residents from media and cultural events held and/or sponsored by the North Pacific. The Delegate and other supporting briefs argue that the government cannot be required to promote and host messages and people it does not want to. They further argue that there is no right to attend events hosted by the region. To an extent, that is true. The Government cannot be required to promote messages it does not want to through certain mediums. The Government cannot be required to send regional telegrams, post dispatches, or host media content on its channel. But the Government is required to host messages in public forums, such as the regional message board, off site forums, and other publicly accessible channels; absent a court order, legal prohibition, or moderator action. The Court finds that this principle holds here. Media shows are a semi-private medium in which the Government can choose whom to host. The Government cannot exclude residents whom it disagrees with from events that are open to the region and/or the public, absent a court sentence, due process, or legal prohibition. Such an action would violate the residents right to assemble and their right to free speech.

Holding​

Sanctions, by their very nature, are punitive for reasons held earlier in this order. The Delegate does not have the authority to impose extrajudicial punishments and by extension impose sanctions on residents, nor can they make actions of a resident a crime by fiat. The Regional Assembly holds the sole authority to define crimes. Any resident of the North Pacific that faces punitive action by the Government is entitled to prior notice that their actions may result in adversarial actions, and such actions are subject to due process of law. While the Government cannot be required to host messages it disagrees with, it cannot prevent residents from attending events hosted or sponsored by the Government that are open to the public and/or the region, unless those residents are individually convicted of a crime or association is proscribed with a declaration of war under Article 3, Section 4 of the Constitution.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on December 13, 2022.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Reconsideration of the Jurisdiction of the Criminal Code
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Attempted Socialism, joined by Justices St George and Lord Dominator

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Vivanco.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Vivanco.
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Zyvetskistaahn.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Vivanco.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Vivanco.
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Zyvetskistaahn.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 4. The Court

1. The Court will try all criminal cases and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies and actions.
2. Reviews of laws or government policies and actions must be made by request of an affected party unless there is a compelling regional interest in resolving it.
(...)
5. The official opinion of the Court in any trial or review will be binding on all Government bodies and officials.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Court Rules and Procedures:
Chapter 5: Precedent and Appeals
Section 1: Precedent



    • All official Court decisions are legally binding on the Court as a whole as well as each individual Justice.
    • Prior decisions made by the Court, regardless of its composition at the time, must continue to be obeyed by the Court and by each individual Justice until and unless their validity is formally overturned in a new request for review.
    • The Court is a reactive body. Without any such request, the Court may not proactively overturn previous rulings.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of prior rulings:

The Court opines the following:
This ruling is in reply to the Request for Review by Vivanco. It will proceed in 5 sections. In Section 1 the petitioner’s standing and regional interest will be noted. In Section 2 the ability of the Court to review prior rulings will be outlined. In Section 3 the Court will analyse the prior ruling and highlight two points of contention. In Section 4 the Court will resolve the ambiguity found in the analysis. In Section 5 the Court will revise the prior ruling. Sections 2 and 3 are to be considered statements of fact. Sections 4 and 5 are the Court’s Holding in the case.

Section 1: Standing and regional interest

Standing
Petitioner Vivanco is duly appointed Court Examiner in accordance with Section 3.6 of the Legal Code. They have universal standing in all cases of Judicial Review. As such the petitioner has standing.

Regional interest
The question before the Court is one of jurisdiction; the applicability of the collection of laws, rights, and duties that The North Pacific has duly ratified and imposed. There can be no doubt that the topic has regional interest. As a prior ruling establishes a precedent, the Court finds itself under a heightened standard of review. Therefore the Court recognises that regional interest is not enough, but it has to establish its own jurisdiction to uphold, revise, or overturn the prior ruling, and the Court has to explain itself fully if it desires to revise or overturn precedent.
The Court finds that it does so in Sections 2 and 3.

Section 2: The Court’s ability to review prior rulings
The Request for Review targets a prior ruling by the Court, asking the Court to review whether the ruling stands as precedent or shall be overturned. In past cases the Court has placed emphasis on precedent, and with good reason. Those rulings have the same prescriptive force as a law, and instructs Government officials in their behaviour. To cite precedent on the matter, the Court turns to its prior ruling On the Nature of Precedent and the Scope of the Court’s Powers:

The Court does not need to find a prior ruling unconstitutional or unlawful to overturn it. The Court, through deliberate review as requested by a person with standing, can find that a prior ruling is in conflict with fundamental principles of justice or the societal norms of The North Pacific as they have evolved since that ruling.
The Court, therefore, has jurisdiction to uphold, revise, or overturn, the challenged ruling with the caveats cited above.

Section 3: Analysis of the prior ruling
The Court finds two points of contention with On the Jurisdiction of the Criminal Code. Firstly, while one reading is clearly intended, there is enough possible ambiguity to force through a reading giving the opposite result, and secondly, the ruling does not sufficiently delineate the jurisdiction of The North Pacific to offer justice and protection to the lawful residents of The North Pacific.
The intended meaning of the ruling is quite clear. The first sentence is that “any nation may be prosecuted for crimes other than treason”, which in context is meant to say that former residents can be prosecuted in absentia for crimes committed while residents. This is reinforced by the later line “they may be tired [sic] even if their nation no longer resides in The North Pacific”. However, if one chooses so, they may read an almost limitless claim to jurisdiction into the ruling by focusing on “any nation may be prosecuted” and in the later line the “expected of committing a crime in The North Pacific”. This sort of ambiguity is explicitly what the Court is mandated to resolve by the Constitution.
While resolving ambiguity is worthwhile on its own, the intended meaning is not without flaws. The prior ruling is explicit in dealing with current residents or former residents who are on trial for alleged crimes committed while residents, but that is not in keeping with the social fabric as it has developed. The North Pacific res publica is not limited to the region proper, but also extends to the Forum and the Discord. A person could join The North Pacific’s Forum or Discord without having a nation reside in the region with the explicit intention of committing crimes, or make sure to leave the region prior to committing a crime. Under the ruling as it stands, the Court would not have jurisdiction to try that person.
The Court finds that the points of contention are causes for concern, and sufficient to justify revisiting the precedent set in the ruling. The Court also finds that either point of contention would be enough to live up to the heightened standard of review set by On the Nature of Precedent and the Scope of the Court’s Powers.

Section 4: Resolving ambiguity
The challenged ruling is disambiguated here by the Court holding that the former reading, presented in the analysis, is the correct one. There shall be no doubt that the jurisdiction demarcated by the ruling, prior to this review, was limited to residents of The North Pacific and those nations whose alleged crimes were committed while residents of The North Pacific. The Court did not make extensive claims to jurisdiction in all imaginable future cases where a breach of Legal Code could be expected.

Section 5: Revising jurisdictional claims
The Court furthermore revises its prior ruling to develop a more substantive and workable set of jurisdictional claims. Those claims will be developed here with the necessary clarification. If a former resident or non-resident is alleged to have committed a criminal act and is indicted for it, but does not accept the indictment and trial, they can be tried in absentia in accordance with the ordinary regulations for a trial.

Residents of The North Pacific
Adopted from the challenged ruling, and as stipulated by both the Constitution and the Legal Code, residents of The North Pacific fall under the jurisdiction of The North Pacific.

Former residents
Adopted from the challenged ruling, former residents can be tried for crimes they are alleged to have committed while residents of The North Pacific.

Crimes committed on North Pacific soil
The North Pacific claims jurisdiction over crimes committed against residents or the region, as stipulated by the Criminal Code, in cases where that crime happened on North Pacific soil. Soil is here understood to be the equivalent to the physical territory of the region, which is at minimum the Region – including World Factbook Entry, regional Dispatches, and the Regional Message Board – the Forum, and the regional communication platform(s) – currently the collection of The North Pacific’s Discord servers.
Acts that can be considered crimes but which are better handled by forum administration or Vice Delegate and security apparatus do fall under the aegis of The North Pacific, but the Court suggests the Government or citizens not press charges in cases where those acts would be better dealt with by those bodies.

Case Thread
Ruling delivered on February 28, 2023.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On The Regional Ban of Siberia Union
Opinion drafted by Justice Lord Dominator, joined by Chief Justice Attempted Socialism and Justice Pallaith

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by The IC 1101 Empire.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Hulldom.
The Court took into consideration the further information provided by the petitioner here.
The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Vivanco.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Constitution of The North Pacific:

Article 3. The Delegate and Vice Delegate
2. The Delegate may eject and ban nations from the region as permitted by law, and will eject or ban nations from the region when required by law.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of The Bill of Rights:
8. The regional power of ejection and banning may not be granted or exercised, nor forum bans imposed, unless expressly authorized pursuant to the Constitution or the Legal Code. Any ejected or banned nation is entitled to prompt judicial review of the matter.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code:
Section 7.3: Onsite Authority
11. Violators of NationStates rules, or residents banned offsite by forum administration, may be subject to summary ejection or banning.
12. Residents banned on the basis of forum bans imposed by forum administration may not be banned for longer than the length of the ban imposed by forum administration.
13. Nations recruiting for other regions may be subject to summary ejection or banning.
14. Nations for which the Court has issued an indictment permitting it may be ejected or banned.
15. Nations that have been so sentenced by the Court will be ejected or banned.
16. The official performing an ejection or ban will promptly inform the region and Government.
17. The Serving Delegate may regulate the Regional Message Board as they see fit.
18. Such regulations may not prohibit speech which is in the context of TNP politics.
19. All actions of the WA Delegate, the Serving Delegate, or of their appointed Regional Officers related to this section will be subject to judicial review.

The Court took into consideration the prior ruling made by the Court On the Regulation of the Regional Message Board.

Standing:
The petitioner is a nation that was ejected and banned, and as such is entitled to judicial review of the same pursuant to Article 8 of the Bill of Rights.

Facts of the Case:
The petitioner, by their own admittance, posted a message on the RMB that appeared to contain personal details, such as both IP and home addresses, later indicating it to be both fake and a joke. Their nation was ejected and banned by the serving Delegate under section 7.3.11 of the Legal Code.

Consideration of the Case:
Taking into account both the Legal Code and prior rulings on the specific application of it, such as On the Regulation of the Regional Message Board, the Delegate and their Regional Officers have broad authority to regulate the Regional Message Board. Certainly the usage of that authority is subject to judicial review, such as this, as is mandated by law or otherwise appropriate, and the law requires that those actions are in reasonably good faith to help the community and absent evidence of abuse or misuse of these powers outside the law, NationStates rules, and TNP Community Guidelines. In this instance, the post in question, while deleted, is indicated to have looked like it contained personally identifiable information, and thus constitute doxxing. This is both a defined violation of NationStates rules and very reasonably something to prohibit for the health of the community; thus any suppression of the post in question would have been entirely reasonable. Further, while the Legal Code limits the use of ejection and banning of resident nations, violations of NationStates rules is one of the clearly defined allowed reasons, and as doxxing is itself a violation of those rules usage of the powers of ejection and banning are entirely reasonable. In either case, the excuse of the post being a joke does not make it less subject to the RMB regulation powers ascribed to the Delegate and their officers, particularly when a given post is not clearly labelled as such, or when there is not any reasonable to verify that it is actually one, as in any nearly instance of potential doxxing. Finally, while the petitioner queries how any moderation actions of the RMB are carried out, the Delegate has followed the law in providing public notification of the ejection and ban in the legally prescribed place and all rules and laws in question are provided on the regional WFE directly or very nearly so, and the Delegate retains broad regulation powers regardless as described by prior rulings.

Holding:
The ejection and ban of the petitioner's nation by the Delegate was done entirely consistent with regional law and precedent relating to the same. The Court sees no reason to overturn the Delegate’s decision in this case.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on April 10, 2023.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On Defunct Rulings
Opinion drafted by Chief Justice Attempted Socialism, joined by Justices Pallaith and Eluvatar

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by TlomzKrano.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by @Comfed.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:

Section 4.4: Overall Election Law
20. Citizens will be provided three days to declare their candidacy. Voting will begin two days after the candidacy declaration period has closed and last for five days.
21. Candidates may withdraw from the ballot anytime during an election.
22. Private votes may be sent by private message to a forum account designated for that purpose by the Election Commission. In such an event, the Election Commissioners supervising the election will promptly announce that a vote has been cast privately and who that vote was cast for. The Election Commissioners may not announce any other details about the vote.
23. The option to reopen nominations will appear on the ballot as a separate question for each race.
24. Should a majority vote to reopen nominations for a given race, a further two days will be provided for candidacy declarations.
25. Candidates for that race whose names appeared on the first ballot will retain their candidacy unless they choose to withdraw.
26. A second round of voting for that race will begin immediately after the candidacy declaration period has closed and last for five days. The option to reopen nominations will not appear on the new ballot.
27. The option to reopen nominations will not appear on the ballot for any runoff vote.
28. If during any voting round for a given race a candidate becomes invalid, then all votes for that candidate will be removed from voters' preferential ranking. The Election Commission will remove the candidate from the list of candidates and notify all citizens who have voted before the candidate became invalid.
29. If at any point in counting the votes for two or more candidates are tied for one position, the candidate who has the least votes at the latest stage of counting where there is a difference in votes will be eliminated. If this does not break a tie, a runoff vote will be held between the tied candidates.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the challenged ruling:
The Court opines the following:

The provisions made in the Legal Code for the reopening of nominations apply only to general elections - that is, those for delegate, vice delegate, and speaker - and special elections for any office. As the election referred to by the petitioner is a judicial election, it does not fall under this law.

The request for an injunction is denied.

The Election Commissioners are instructed to tally the results of the Attorney General race from the first round of voting and to either certify them or hold a run-off vote as necessary.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the prior ruling by the Court On Recognizing Outdated Rulings:
2. Should Opinion 1 be modified with strikethrough tags as it has been superseded by the current Legal Code Chapter 6, Section 7?

It seems clear to the court that Opinion 1 was written when the law required the Attorney General's Office to bring all cases to trial. The current law is clear in that, in clause 38 of Chapter 6, Section 7 of the Legal Code, "The Attorney General may, at their discretion, manage the prosecution of any criminal case requested." This allows for the Office of AG to decide not to prosecute. As such Opinion 1 is contrary to, and superseded by, the current Legal Code.

The Court, therefore, opines the following:

Opinion Number 1, In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Tim on the Attorney General Refusing to bring Trials to the Court, is hereby modified with strikethrough tags, acknowledging its obsolescence while preserving it for historical purposes. As such, the Court's Ruling issued on September 15, 2012 no longer has the force of law.

The Court opines the following:

On Standing
The Petitioner is the Court Examiner and enjoys universal standing in all cases of review before this Court. The Petitioner thus has proper standing.

On Rulings Superseded by Legislation – Defunct Rulings
This Court is often asked to rule on laws that are ambiguous. That is the nature of a Court with the power of judicial review. Those rulings have the force of law, but they are not laws themselves. This case is about the specific request for review and the challenged ruling, but to best reach its ruling the Court finds it necessary to weigh in on the general matter of past rulings on matters where the law is subsequently changed (perhaps as corrective to the past ruling) to reach the best ruling in this case. When a ruling may be in error the most direct corrective to that is an appeal. If, instead, the citizenry – through the Court’s ruling – is made aware of a flaw in the Legal Code, the proper corrective is to clarify the citizenry’s intent with the law through new legislation. As such it should be expected that Court rulings give rise to legislation that is meant to supersede Court rulings. This is also not the first time that the Court is asked to weigh in on a previous ruling that has since been superseded. It is, however, the first time that the Court sets out to make a test for superseded rulings, and clearly spell out what the status of a superseded ruling is.

Any requested review of past rulings that may have been superseded by legislation should establish three facts. First, was the ruling correct at the time? Second, were changes made to the legislation underlying that ruling? Third, did those changes affect the ruling in part or in full? If the ruling was correct at the time, the Court did not err in judgement and as such, the material outcome of the case is unchanged. If an action was ordered, denied, or reversed by the Court, that specific action remained ordered, denied, or reversed. If the Regional Assembly changed the underlying legislation, any part of the ruling that relies on that legislation is also, necessarily, subject to change. But it is not enough for a legislative change to be something innocuous such as a renumbering of clauses, corrected spelling, or reworded or reorganized clauses that do not change the original meaning or intent of the law. The law must now have additional provisions, or have removed provisions that existed originally, or different ones than existed at the time of the original ruling, such that the Court has to consider a different law than existed at the time of the decision.

After establishing these facts, the Court should evaluate any impact on a ruling. If the ruling was correct then but would be incorrect now, the ruling is defunct: the Court should be careful not to phrase this as overturning the ruling, but instead that the ruling is superseded by subsequent legislation and is defunct as precedent. If the ruling would be unchanged the Court should uphold the ruling and explain in the ruling that it was not effectively superseded by legislation. In between those extremes the Court should carefully evaluate to what degree the ruling would be affected by the new legislation. If the substance of the ruling is significantly affected, the Court should give deference to the Regional Assembly’s lawmaking powers and consider the ruling defunct, but if a ruling is only partially superseded, then it is defunct only in that part, and the Court must let the remainder of the original ruling stand (or overturn it for other reasons).

This idea, although not the specific language, was embedded in the ruling, On Recognizing Outdated Rulings, cited above. This Court thus elaborates on that prior ruling, and codifies a specific language to distinguish between a ruling that was in error – that is, a ruling that is overturned by a subsequent ruling – and a ruling that was correct at the time, but where the law has since been changed – that is, a ruling that is superseded by subsequent legislation and is defunct as precedent. Lastly, while the Court had not yet established the specific language, the ruling On the Reconsideration of the Jurisdiction of the Criminal Code was an example of a ruling that was also not wrongly decided at the time, but which had not been fully superseded – albeit by developments over time rather than new legislation – and thus the Court revised the ruling without overturning it. That is the process the Court intends for rulings that are only superseded in part.

On the Challenged Ruling
The challenged ruling was delivered according to the law in force at the time. The provisions for reopening nominations was for general elections and special elections, with no such provision for the judicial election.

On Superseding Legislation
The Regional Assembly introduced, debated, and voted on legislation that the Delegate signed into law. This new legislation, as quoted from the Legal Code above, rewrote the relevant parts of the law to make clear the intent to make some general rules apply to all elections, and included in this the ability of voters to vote for reopening nominations. This legislation was intended to specifically address the outcome of the Court's review, and did so in full.

Holding
The Court finds that, while the challenged ruling was correct at the time, the law that gave rise to that ruling has been changed since, and in a way that would make the ruling incorrect now. As such the ruling is superseded by subsequent legislation and is defunct as precedent. Therefore, Opinion Number 33, On Candidate Eligibility in Reopened Nomination Periods, is hereby modified with strikethrough tags, acknowledging its obsolescence while preserving it for historical purposes.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on August 9, 2023.
 

Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Reconsideration of Delegate Term Limits
Opinion drafted by Justice Pallaith, joined by Chief Justice Attempted Socialism and Justice Eluvatar

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by TlomzKrano

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Robespierre

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Constitution of The North Pacific.

Article 3: The Delegate and Vice Delegate
13. The Delegate and Vice Delegate will be elected by the Regional Assembly every four months. No person shall be elected Delegate to a full or partial term in three consecutive election cycles.

The Court took into consideration the prior rulings by the Court On Delegate Term Limits, On Delegate Term Limits in Special Elections, On Recognizing Outdated Rulings, and On Defunct Rulings



The Court opines the following:

On Standing
The petitioner is the Court Examiner, and enjoys universal standing for all questions before this Court. There is no question of proper standing in this case.

On the Court’s Prior Ruling
This Court is asked to reconsider one of its prior rulings in light of a change that was made to the Constitution since that opinion was delivered. That ruling, On Delegate Term Limits in Special Elections, was concerned with defining terms and what constituted consecutive terms. In applying the Court's test as outlined in On Defunct Rulings, we conclude that the Court's ruling was correct at the time. In fact, that decision is wholly consistent in result with the current constitutional term limit for the Delegate. However, while one of the original questions the Court considered mentioned consecutive and elected terms, the Court did not generalize based on whether the terms were elected. That aspect could be seen as specific to the example in the question, and the Court did not address elections except to assert that a candidate for Delegate could not participate in any election that took place in a term following their second consecutive term in office. Because of this, we accept that there may be some ambiguity as to whether that decision would prevent an unelected Delegate from running for a second consecutive elected term, and as a result this decision may conflict with the current constitutional language.

On Subsequent Constitutional Amendment
On Delegate Term Limits in Special Elections was concerned with a constitutional provision that specified “No person may serve more than two consecutive terms as Delegate.” Since then, the Constitution was amended so that “No person shall be elected Delegate to a full or partial term in three consecutive election cycles.” The emphasis is now on the elections, not on the terms, and serves as a much clearer standard, considering this Court had two separate decisions on this question previously. This Court concludes that the underlying constitutional language upon which the prior decision relied changed sufficiently for the decision to require revision, and renders part of the ruling defunct.

On Delegate Term Limits in Special Elections
In the interest of resolving other potential ambiguities, the Court now reconsiders the original topic through the lens of current law. It is clear that the Constitution and Legal Code continue to make no distinction between phases of a Delegate’s term and therefore there is no difference as to when a special election takes place as far as the law is concerned: whether a special election is for a partial term lasting the majority of a Delegate’s term, or only a few weeks, the limit applies. The Constitution’s reference to “election cycle” means any of the designated periods in which a Delegate’s term would fall, which is currently the four months between January and May, May and September, and September and January. The limit applies even in the unlikely event that multiple special elections take place in the same term. So, for example, a Delegate could not be elected in January and May and then run for a special election in November of the September cycle, even if that person did not run in the normal September election or a special election that followed it in October, as the candidate would still potentially be elected to a partial term in a third consecutive election cycle. And as for the Court Examiner’s reference to recent events, where an acting delegate served prior to being elected Delegate in the following cycle, such a person could serve as acting delegate in the January cycle and be elected Delegate in the following May and September cycles, as there is a clear difference between an acting or serving delegate and an elected one, and the Constitution specifies a limit on elections and not on terms.

Holding
As the case was properly decided and the Court's consideration of partial term limits, including its overturning of On Delegate Term Limits, is consistent with existing Constitutional language and affirmed again by this decision, we find that the following portion of part 2 of our prior ruling On Delegate Term Limits in Special Elections, is now defunct as precedent:

The Delegate has still served in 2 consecutive terms - it is irrelevant whether they served the whole term, the first half or the second half.

Having established the set terms, the Court believes that it is not legal for a Delegate to contest any Delegate election, be it general or special, in the term immediately following his second consecutive term.

Therefore, that portion of the ruling will be modified with strikethrough tags, acknowledging its obsolescence while preserving it for historical purposes.

Case thread
Ruling delivered August 9, 2023.
 

Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On Advisory Opinions
Opinion drafted by Justice Pallaith, joined by Chief Justice Attempted Socialism and Justice Eluvatar

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by TlomzKrano

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Constitution of The North Pacific.

Article 4: The Court
1. The Court will try all criminal cases and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies and actions.
2. Reviews of laws or government policies and actions must be made by request of an affected party unless there is a compelling regional interest in resolving it.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Court Rules and Procedures.

Chapter 5: Precedent and Appeals
Section 1: Precedent

1. All official Court decisions are legally binding on the Court as a whole as well as each individual Justice.
2. Prior decisions made by the Court, regardless of its composition at the time, must continue to be obeyed by the Court and by each individual Justice until and unless their validity is formally overturned in a new request for review.
3. The Court is a reactive body. Without any such request, the Court may not proactively overturn previous rulings.

The Court took into consideration the prior ruling by the Court Advisory Opinion on the Role of the Attorney General.



The Court opines the following:

On Standing
The petitioner is the Court Examiner, and enjoys universal standing for all questions before this Court. There is no question of proper standing in this case.

On Advisory Opinions
In the entire history of this Court under the current Constitution, there has only been a single time that this Court has rendered an advisory opinion, Advisory Opinion on the Role of the Attorney General. In that instance the Court was compelled to speak up, despite receiving no petition from an affected party, and the fact that it was the single time this occurred underscores the extraordinary moment the Court felt it was responding to. This extraordinary step carried as much weight as it did not only because it was not the norm, but also because when the Court renders an opinion on the law, it carries an inherent legitimacy and weight that simple remarks in citizen spaces or the Regional Assembly simply do not. The Court knew this and never rendered such an opinion again, nor did it refer to this opinion in any subsequent case. Nevertheless, this opinion is listed with all of the others, which do carry the weight of precedent, and as was intended when this opinion was issued, the Court is quite persuasive and arguing for a very particular way of looking at the law in the advisory opinion.

The petitioner asks us to examine this opinion, and to evaluate whether it was even possible for the Court to issue an advisory opinion in the first place. Additionally, the petitioner asserts that the clause that establishes the Court’s power of review restricts the compelling interest provision to questions of standing, rather than allowing the compelling interest to also allow the Court to disregard standing entirely and take matters into its own hands. The Court intended to send a strong message in its sole previous advisory opinion, and a major part of why that move had the impact it did was because it disregarded the very clear lines that the Court has been careful to follow ever since. The Court did not have the authority or the capacity to make such an opinion even at the time that it made it. Furthermore, an advisory opinion done by the Court’s own initiative is against the Court’s own procedures, which mandate that it be a reactive body. And an advisory opinion, even if divorced from a particular legal question or overturning existing law, nevertheless is an official Court decision and remains binding on justices. Such opinions create a problem, as they can be fairly said to be intended not to be taken as precedent, but nevertheless stand shoulder to shoulder with other case law that is binding and must be considered in subsequent reviews. Given the Constitution does not empower the Court to make such opinions, and it is the Court’s own practice not to do so, the best course is to state clearly that such opinions cannot be delivered and therefore cannot be considered when following existing precedent in deciding the outcome of requests for review.

The justices who make up this Court may from time to time feel compelled to speak out on issues of legal concern, or to challenge our region’s officials when they feel those officials are failing to properly discharge their duties. The members of this Court are still members of the Regional Assembly, and citizens of this region, and have many avenues to express these concerns. At worst, a Justice may find those concerns so compelling that they necessitate their recusal from any such issues that may find their way in front of this Court, so that they may more effectively speak on those issues and advocate for those issues outside of this Court. No matter how great a concern may be for any or all of the justices serving on the Court, it is never appropriate for the Court to use its authority, its legally binding and weighty voice, as a means to advocate for a particular issue. The Court is reactive, not proactive.

Holding
We find that the Court does not have the power to deliver advisory opinions in the absence of a properly filed request for review by an affected party or by someone else when there is a compelling regional interest in considering the request. We also affirm the petitioner’s argument, and find that the compelling regional interest consideration is intended to establish an exception to standing in requests for reviews, and is not a license for the Court to engage in reviews without a request from outside the Court. Accordingly, we invalidate the existing advisory opinion.

Case thread
Ruling delivered August 9, 2023.
 
Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On Resolving Ambiguity in the Absence of Subordinate Rules for Government Bodies
Opinion drafted by Justice Pallaith, joined by Chief Justice Attempted Socialism and Justice Eluvatar

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by TlomzKrano.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Simone.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Constitution of The North Pacific.
Article 3: The Delegate and Vice Delegate
10. The Vice Delegate will chair the Security Council and enforce the continued eligibility of its members as determined by law.
Article 6: General Provisions
15. Government bodies may create rules for their own governance subordinate to this constitution and the laws.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Procedure of the Security Council
Article 8: Access by Non-Members
1. If the Vice Delegate is a member of the Security Council, they may cast a vote on matters before the SC. Otherwise, they may only vote to break a tie.


The Court took into consideration the prior rulings by the Court On the Vice Delegate's Voting Rights within the Security Council and On Recognizing Outdated Rulings.

The Court opines the following:

On Standing
The petitioner is the Court Examiner, and enjoys universal standing for all questions before this Court. There is no question of proper standing in this case.

On the Court’s Prior Ruling
The Court is asked to reconsider one of its prior rulings, this one deemed to create a conflict between the Constitution and a subordinate government body, which in this case is the Security Council. The provision of the Constitution originally considered by this Court in its decision On the Vice Delegate’s Voting Rights within the Security Council has not changed since that ruling. The provision of the Constitution identified by the petitioner, regarding the ability of government bodies to create their own subordinate rules to the Constitution, has also not changed since the ruling under review. What has changed since that decision is the amendment of the Security Council’s procedures, where the Security Council placed a restriction on the Vice Delegate’s ability to vote in the Security Council. Whereas before the Security Council was silent on this matter, they have since created a rule that only grants the Vice Delegate a vote to break ties unless the Vice Delegate is also a member of the Security Council.

The Court asserted in its prior decision that because the Constitution did not state that the Vice Delegate did not have voting rights in the Security Council, there was “no choice but to assume” that the Constitution was intended to give the Vice Delegate such voting rights. At best, by also observing that the provision in question specified the role of the Vice Delegate as chair of the Security Council, the Court insinuated that having a vote in that body was related to that role. However, there was no explicit analysis or justification for this particular conclusion. In evaluating the other constitutional provision cited by the Court Examiner, regarding government bodies establishing their own rules, we believe that the Constitution clearly intended for the Security Council to decide how voting was handled in that body. But while government bodies constitutionally have the right to set these rules, they do not always manage to do so, or to consider every potential gap or situation that may arise from how the rules are written. This is when ambiguity creeps in.

On the Vice Delegate’s Role in the Security Council
When considering the basic separation of powers evident in the Constitution, as well as the Legal Code, it is clear that the Vice Delegate is not selected by the Security Council and is explicitly a role intended to be apart from the Security Council, as membership in the Security Council is not a pre-requisite for the position. And as the Court already established, the Vice Delegate chairs the Security Council, which allows the Vice Delegate to have some insulation from the Security Council and allows the region some democratic means to steer the Security Council. At the same time, the Security Council itself determines its organization and its procedures. The constitutional provision in question, after all, also establishes that as chair, the Vice Delegate enforces membership in the Security Council which is determined by law, not this article of the Constitution. The Vice Delegate applies rules made by the Security Council, not by the Vice Delegate. The checks and balances cut both ways – the Vice Delegate can be a check on the Security Council, but they can do the same to the Vice Delegate. With all of this in mind, the Court today believes that it would have been perfectly reasonable to rule that the Vice Delegate had no voting rights on the Security Council, and in fact was not meant to have them.

On Resolving Ambiguity in the Absence of Subordinate Rules for Government Bodies
It can be said that the fact the Constitution is often silent on the specific details of how government bodies and their regulations are organized is a feature, not a bug. These matters are left to the Legal Code, and when even that is silent, the rules adopted by the various government bodies, including but not limited to the Security Council, the Regional Assembly, the Court, the Election Commission, or the Bar Commission. The Constitution, as we have already shown, specifically contemplates this. But when those rules or procedures contain gaps, and they are not addressed by changes to those procedures or to existing law, the Court often has to step in. As the Constitution is clear that the various government bodies may establish their own rules, this Court believes that to the extent it must weigh in and resolve ambiguities related to the regulation of government bodies, it should do so with careful application of existing constitutional and legal provisions, and settle the question with as little change to the subordinate laws and regulations as possible, particularly if the changes involve drafting entirely new language. The Court is not a legislative or regulatory body, and believes it is always better for the Regional Assembly to settle ambiguities in law itself, and for government bodies to clearly outline their own procedures and address deficiencies with internal amendments wherever possible. Nevertheless, we have many times outlined provisions or rules that can guide government bodies when these guidelines or rules were not in place, and may continue to do so from time to time, but on such occasions the Court must endeavor to tread lightly and only as much as is required by the nature of the ambiguity at the heart of the question it is asked to answer.

When resolving these questions, as outlined above, the Court should rely on some legal logic that serves as a foundation and can be traced to some constitutional principle or pattern in existing law or procedures. We find that lacking in the Court’s prior decision, which was baseless and relied on reading into existence a supposedly obvious intention that today’s Court believes is not supported by all of the same text and subtext that existed when this subject was last considered by the Court. That being said, while this Court cannot agree with the logic asserted by the Court in the prior case, we do recognize that in this particular situation, the Court resolved a binary question. This Court accepts that the resolution of the prior case was valid, because the Court had two choices and either one was equally capable of resolving the ambiguity. Either the Vice Delegate had voting rights on the Security Council, or the Vice Delegate didn’t have voting rights in the Security Council, and since no existing law and no existing procedure of the Security Council defined such rights, the Court had to answer the question. This also did not require changing the procedures in any way, and created no additional burden, so while the outcome was the opposite of what today’s Court would have ruled, and we feel the Court’s decision had little basis, the Court nevertheless was able to make this judgment call and choose one of the two options available to it to resolve this particular question.

Even so, the Court erred in the decision it made. While simply answering the question and affirming the right of the Vice Delegate to vote in Security Council matters would have been a small matter, the Court went much further than necessary in how it resolved the question. By asserting that the Constitution was intended to grant the Vice Delegate voting authority on the Security Council, the Court established its answer as a constitutional principle and therefore completely eliminated the Security Council’s ability to regulate the Vice Delegate’s vote despite the Constitution not precluding them from doing so. Ever since the Security Council adopted its rule for Vice Delegate voting in its procedures, it has done so, at least according to this Court’s binding precedent, in violation of the Constitution. We believe it would be absurd to declare the Security Council’s own governance of its internal voting unconstitutional, not only because it has relied on those procedures for nearly a decade, but because those procedures are fully consistent with our understanding of the separation of powers and the various roles each official plays in the Security Council, and are an example of another constitutional provision in action. The two provisions under review do not conflict, except because a prior Court ruling decided that they did.

Holding
We hereby overturn the ruling On the Vice Delegate’s Voting Rights within the Security Council in its entirety, and find that the Vice Delegate does not have an inherent constitutional right to vote in the Security Council. We affirm the Security Council’s constitutional right to determine its own procedures, including voting within that body, in the absence of any higher legal provisions further defining its procedures.

Case thread
Ruling delivered August 9, 2023.
 

Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Reconsideration of the Time at Which Oaths Become Binding
Opinion drafted by Justice Eluvatar, joined by Chief Justice Attempted Socialism and Justice Pallaith

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by TlomzKrano

The Court took into consideration the relevant portion of the Constitution of The North Pacific.

Article 3: The Delegate and Vice Delegate
13. The Delegate and Vice Delegate will be elected by the Regional Assembly every four months. No person shall be elected Delegate to a full or partial term in three consecutive election cycles.

The Court took into consideration the prior rulings by the Court On the Time at Which Oaths Become Binding, On Oath Violations by Former Members of the Regional Assembly, On Recognizing Outdated Rulings, and On Defunct Rulings



The Court opines the following:

On Standing
The petitioner is the Court Examiner, and enjoys universal standing for all questions before this Court. There is no question of proper standing in this case.

On the Court’s Prior Ruling
This Court is asked to reconsider one of its prior rulings in light of a change that was made to the legal code since that opinion was delivered. That ruling, On the Time at Which Oaths Become Binding, was concerned with defining the scope of application of the citizenship oath in time (when is one bound by it?). In applying the Court's test as outlined in On Defunct Rulings, we conclude that the Court's ruling was correct at the time. It is consistent with current law in all respects but the timing of automatic citizenship: at the time, 14 days without rejection meant automatic admission to citizenship. Today, the law requires applications to be processed within 7 days. As the ruling explicitly references 14 days, that part of the ruling is defunct.

Holding
As the case was properly decided and the Court's consideration of the time when the citizenship oath is binding, including its application of On Oath Violations by Former Members of the Regional Assembly, is consistent with existing Constitutional and legal language and affirmed again by this decision, we find that only a narrow portion of our prior ruling On the Time at Which Oaths Become Binding, concerning the application of the oath after 14 days without acceptance or rejection, is now defunct as precedent. Therefore, that portion of the ruling ("after 14 days pass") will be modified with strikethrough tags, acknowledging its obsolescence while preserving it for historical purposes.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on August 10, 2023.
 
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Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Proper Timing of the Phases of a Trial
Opinion drafted by Justice Eluvatar, joined by Justice Wymondham and THO Just a Lore, with Chief Justice Attempted Socialism recused

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by Dreadton.

The Court took into consideration the ruling by Attempted Socialism so appealed.

The Court took into consideration the legal briefs filed here and here by Dreadton.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Vivanco.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Attempted Socialism.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights of The North Pacific:

7. When charged with criminal acts, Nations of The North Pacific and its territories shall have a fair, impartial, and public trial before a neutral and impartial judicial officer. In any criminal proceeding, a Nation is presumed innocent unless guilt is proven to the fact finder by reasonably certain evidence. A Nation may be represented by any counsel of the Nation's choosing. No Nation convicted of a crime shall be subject to a punishment disproportionate to that crime.
...
9. Each Nation in The North Pacific and its territories is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region and its territories on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region and its territories shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific and its territories, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific and its territories the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.
...
11. No governmental authority of the region and its territories has the power to suspend or disregard the Constitution or the Legal Code. In the event of an actual emergency, the governmental authorities of the region and its territories, with the express consent of the Nations of the region and its territories or their representatives, is authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is consistent as practicable with the pertinent provisions of the Constitution.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:
Section 3.4: Criminal Trial Procedure
17. A standard procedure for all criminal trials will be established by majority agreement of the Court.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Court Rules and Procedures:
Chapter 1: Criminal Trials
Section 2: Criminal Trial Procedure
3. The Moderating Justice will work with both the Defense and the Prosecution to establish a reasonable timetable for the trial. Trials shall proceed linearly through the following stages:
  • Plea Submission: The Defendant will be given a period of time to enter a plea and to choose any desired legal representation. If no plea has been submitted by the end of this period, a plea of Not Guilty will be entered into the record on the Defendant's behalf. If the Defendant has not declared either their intent to represent themselves or the identity of their chosen counsel by the end of this period, an attorney will be appointed for them by the court.
  • Evidence Submission: Following the end of Plea Submission, both the Defense and the Prosecution will be given a period of time to present gathered evidence in full, object to evidence submitted by opposing counsel, and present motions to the Moderating Justice.
  • Argumentation: When all outstanding motions and objections have been settled, the Prosecution and Defense will be given a period of time to make arguments on the evidence and the law, as well as to respond to the arguments made by opposing counsel.
  • Deliberation: After argumentation has concluded and any outstanding motions and requests have been resolved, the Court will deliberate amongst itself in order to reach a verdict. The Court will endeavor to keep this period below a maximum of five days.
  • Sentencing: When the Court renders a verdict of Guilty, the Prosecution and the Defense will be given a period of time to make sentencing recommendations before the Court makes an ultimate determination. Once a sentence has been issued, the Moderating Justice must personally notify the defendant as well as any government or administration officials who must act to carry out the sentence.
4. The defendant may, at any time, replace their legal counsel or choose to represent themselves.
5. As necessary, and in the interests of justice, the Moderating Justice may alter the established timetable to ensure a fair trial.
...
Chapter 4: Decorum
Section 2: General Conduct
2. All parties in any matter before the court must conduct themselves in an appropriate, legal, and civil manner.
3. Posts which fail to meet the above requirements may be split at the discretion of the Moderating Justice, and will not be considered in the Court's deliberations.
The Court opines the following:

In this case there is a balance to be struck between three needs: the need for a trial that is fair in that it does not take too long, for the opportunity to be heard at all stages of a trial, and for a trial that is fair in that both sides are treated fairly by the court.

Were the Court to exclude the evidence in the case at hand due to a procedural error by the judge, and therefore dismiss the case with prejudice, or even rule a mistrial, it would be unfair to the prosecution.

When the Court returned the case to evidence submission for the purpose of completing the judge's evidentiary duties, but then immediately proceeded to arguments, that denied both sides the opportunity to be heard.

Through this appeal to a request for review, the trial was greatly delayed, in part due to force majeure, in part inevitably due to the process of a request for review.

Furthermore, the Moderating Justice presents a claim that the defense counsel was dishonest with their request that the Court state that the trial had entered the Arguments stage. For this claim the most relevant evidence would be the discord log of the defense counsel saying:
Dreadton:
i would ask for a restatment that we are in the argument phase
i dont want someone to come back later and say hehe you screwed up here see you in court

However, when the Moderating Justice did state the trial was in the Arguments stage, the defense counsel promptly moved for a mistrial (within an hour). If this log is accurate, it suggests that the defense counsel dissimulated in the motivation they offered for the clarification. After all, "hehe you screwed up here see you in court" pretty well characterizes their motion following the restatement.

The court rules mandate that:
Court Rules and Procedures:
2. All parties in any matter before the court must conduct themselves in an appropriate, legal, and civil manner.
3. Posts which fail to meet the above requirements may be split at the discretion of the Moderating Justice, and will not be considered in the Court's deliberations.
As dishonesty by a legal counsel deleterious to confidence in our legal system and the ability for a Moderating Justice to hold a fair trial, it can easily be argued that it is not appropriate. The enforcement mechanism would be a finding of contempt, appealable to the Regional Assembly.

Finding against a party is not a specified penalty for dishonesty. If the Court wishes to grant a Moderating Justice the power to reject motions as inappropriate due to dishonesty, it should alter the rules accordingly. As written, a Moderating Justice would have to split a post out of the trial topic as inappropriate, and not rule on it at all, not rule against it.

The Court notes that the court rules explicitly allow for the Moderating Justice to adjust the timetable to ensure a fair trial. However, the language regarding the timing of motions is ambiguous: motions are only explicitly allowed in the evidence submission stage, but both Arguments and Deliberations state a requirement to settle outstanding motions. This could mean that motions are allowed in Arguments, also, or it could mean that some motions don't count as "outstanding" as they don't need to be settled before the Arguments stage begins. It would benefit the Court to clarify.

In the interests of speedier trials, it might also benefit the Court to better regulate requests for review during a trial.

The Court finds that the case must be returned to evidence submission and both sides be permitted a brief window to make any necessary motions regarding the evidence, following its acceptance and transcription by the Court.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on November 11, 2023.
 
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Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Reconsideration of the Need for Further Clarification on Restarting Voting Periods
Opinion drafted by Justice Lord Dominator, joined by Chief Justice Wymondham and Justice Eluvatar

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by TlomzKrano.

The Court took into consideration the legal brief filed here by Pallaith.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of prior rulings by the Court "On Recognizing Outdated Rulings,""On the Reconsideration of the Time at Which Oaths Become Binding," and "On Resolving Ambiguity in the Absence of Subordinate Rules for Government Bodies"

The Court opines the following:


On Standing
The petitioner is the Court Examiner, and enjoys universal standing for all questions before this Court.

The Prior Ruling
The Court has been asked to review its old ruling “On the Need for Further Clarification on Restarting Voting Periods,” in light of the region’s subsequent codification of further Election Commission law in the Legal Code. The given ruling also includes a section that has not been challenged and deals with how abstentions are counted in elections.

Holding
As the Regional Assembly has seen fit to specifically legislate the bounds of Election Commission activity and in consideration of the Court’s own prior ruling “On Resolving Ambiguity in the Absence of Subordinate Rules for Government Bodies” and rendered the guidelines portion of the prior ruling obsolete, that portion will be struck out. The abstention portion of the ruling remains in force, while the struck out guidelines will remain present for historical interest.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on December 17, 2023.
 
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Ruling of the Court of The North Pacific
On the Reconsideration of the Powers of Election Commissioners
Opinion drafted by Justice Lord Dominator, joined by Chief Justice Wymondham and Justice Eluvatar

The Court took into consideration the inquiry filed here by TlomzKrano.

The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of the Legal Code of The North Pacific:

Section 4.3 Clause 17 of the Legal Code:
The Election Commission will have the power to make rules for the supervision of elections. Where no rules exist, the Election Commissioners supervising a given election may use their discretion.
The Court took into consideration the relevant portions of prior rulings by the Court "On Recognizing Outdated Rulings" and "On Resolving Ambiguity in the Absence of Subordinate Rules for Government Bodies"

The Court opines the following:

On Standing
The petitioner is the Court Examiner, and enjoys universal standing for all questions before this Court.

The Prior Ruling
The Court has been asked to review its old ruling “On the powers of Election Commissioners,” in light of the region’s subsequent codification of further Election Commission law in the Legal Code. Additionally, the request for review notes that the relevant sections of the Legal Code have been significantly changed or removed in the subsequent time.

Holding
As the Regional Assembly has seen fit to specifically legislate the bounds of Election Commission activity, as well as other subsequent changes to the Legal Code, the ruling in question (while still generally valid in conclusions) is flawed in its support and redundant in its conclusions. Considering that and the Court’s own prior ruling “On Resolving Ambiguity in the Absence of Subordinate Rules for Government Bodies,” the ruling in question shall be struck out.

Case thread
Ruling delivered on March 2, 2024.
 
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