Constitution of the Tharsis Montes Commonwealth

Here's a complete constitution of a 21st-century Mars colony. I wrote this one up about 1987. One of my confirmands mentioned to me that he was supposed to write up a constitution for a Mars colony as a school assignment. So, having a free evening on my hands, here's what I typed up and anonymously sent him in the mail...

Sec.1. The Commonwealth
Par.1. The name of this governmental unit shall be the Tharsis Montes Commonwealth.

Par.2. The Tharsis Montes Commonwealth is a sovereign governmental unit registered under the terms of the 1998 United Nations Treaty for the Development of Outer Space and subject to its terms and conditions, serving as trustee thereunder, within the Commonwealth's specified domains, for the Luna, Tharsis, and Vesta Industrial Development Corporation.

Par. 3. The domain of the Tharsis Montes Commonwealth shall consist of:

(1) The region of the planet Mars between 100° and 125° west longitude, and between 20° south latitude and 20° north latitude;

(2) Any human settlements or habitation lying therein, and any Corporation equipment operating therein or therefrom;

(3) Any Mars orbital stations or platforms, or any such space vessels, as shall from time to time be procured or erected for the operation of the Commonwealth, the Corporation, or their joint or several concerns;

(4) Any material, manufacture, or data arising in or from the domain of the Commonwealth, or from its citizens, while said material, manufacture, or data is in transit to its intended destination;

(5) Any such regions on the planet Mars, together with accompanying settlements or equipments, as may from time to time be lawfully obtained by or for the Commonwealth.

Sec.2. The Citizens' Assembly.
Par.1. All legislative powers herein granted or implied are vested in the Citizens' Assembly of the Tharsis Montes Commonwealth.

Par.2. The Citizens' Assembly shall consist of all registered citizens of the Commonwealth.

Par.3. Citizenship in the Commonwealth is open to:

(1) All those registered as citizens as of the date of the chartering of the Commonwealth;

(2) All native-born residents of the Commonwealth, on their attaining the age of fourteen Earth years;

(3) All residents of, or immigrants to, the Commonwealth, on the completion of six Earth years' residence in good behavior, and two subsequent Earth years of public service to the Commonwealth in such areas as the Commonwealth Council may direct;

(4) All others to whom the Commonwealth Council may grant citizenship, whether for financial consideration, or for recognition of public service; subject to the veto of the Citizens' Assembly.

Par.4. The Commonwealth Council reserves the right to withhold citizenship from any candidate for citizenship, for any reason whatsoever. But except in cases of emergency, or of felony or capital crime whereof the individual shall have been duly convicted, the Council shall not withhold citizenship from any candidate without providing passage to Earth on the next available ship, for a price not to exceed the value of all capital and goods accrued by the candidate during his or her residency in the Commonwealth. And no native-born resident of the Commonwealth shall be denied citizenship on attaining the requisite age, without public disclosure of the reasons for denial of citizenship.

Par.5. Legislation may be introduced to the Citizens' Assembly:

(1) Through the sponsorship of one hundred citizens or one half of one percent of the citizenship of the Commonwealth, whichever is greater;

(2) On the initiative of any three members of the Commonwealth Council;

(3) Through a motion on the floor of a duly called and constituted Public Forum.

Par.6. The Citizens' Assembly may pass an item of legislation:

(1) By simple majority vote of the Assembly for an item of legislation openly available and advertised to the entire citizenship on the Commonwealth computer network for a period of not less than seven nor more than thirty Mars days;

(2) By simple majority vote on the floor of a duly called and constituted Public Forum.

Par.7. An item of legislation passed by the Citizens' Assembly shall take effect starting the next calendar Mars day following the time when it receives a majority vote; except that items approved in a Public Forum shall take effect immediately upon adjournment of that session of the Public Forum in which they were enacted.

Par.8. No bill of attainder, or ex post facto legislation may be enacted; nor may any item of legislation work corruption of blood.

Par.9. For the purposes of voting on proposed legislation, all citizens of the Commonwealth shall have free, equal, and easy access to the Commonwealth computer network.

Par.10. A Public Forum of the Citizens' Assembly:

(1) shall be called at the request of five hundred citizens or three percent of the citizenship of the Commonwealth, whichever is greater;

(2) shall be called by simple majority vote of the Commonwealth Council;

(3) shall be called automatically at least once every Mars year, on a date set by the Commonwealth Council;

(4) shall be convened in a space accommodating the citizenship of the Commonwealth, or as near thereto as possible; and in event of multiple siting, shall be conducted with communication links between sites;

(5) shall require a quorum of one thousand citizens or ten percent of the citizenship of the Commonwealth, whichever is greater;

(6) shall be moderated by the chair of the Commonwealth Council, or by his or her appointed designee;

(7) may be limited to action on items or issues designated in its call, or may act without limitation if no such limitation is specified.

Sec.3. The Commonwealth Council.
Par.1. The executive power of the Tharsis Montes Commonwealth shall be vested in the Commonwealth Council.

Par.2. The Commonwealth Council shall consist of:

(1) three Commonwealth citizens appointed by the Luna, Tharsis, and Vesta Industrial Development Corporation;

(2) one Commonwealth citizen appointed as a representative of each duly registered Professional or Trade Guild of the Commonwealth, through free election by those members of that Guild who hold citizenship in the Commonwealth;

(3) Commonwealth citizens numbering at least a majority of the Council, chosen through free election by all citizens of the Commonwealth, whether as members-at-large or as representatives of subgroups of the citizenship, as a two-thirds majority of the citizenship of the Commonwealth shall determine.

Par.3. Membership in the Commonwealth Council is restricted to those citizens of the Commonwealth who have attained the age of at least sixteen Earth years, and who shall have subsequently performed at least two Earth years of public service.

Par.4. Commonwealth Council elections shall be held at least once every two Mars years, or more often when the Council itself shall call for them.

Par.5. The chair of the Commonwealth Council shall be elected by the Council itself from among its membership.

Par.6. The Commonwealth Council is responsible for enforcing and carrying out the legislation of the Citizens' Assembly, and the decisions of the several Judges of the Commonwealth.

Par.7. The Council may take appropriate steps to deal with emergencies, and may enact such provisional legislation as is necessary to the governance of the Commonwealth; save that any such provisional legislation shall expire at the end of thirty Mars days unless ratified by the Citizens' Assembly.

Par.8. The Council shall nominate Judges for the Commonwealth, subject to confirmation by at least two thirds of those citizens registering a response within a period of not less than seven and not more than thirty Mars days.

Par.9. Any Council member may be impeached by a majority vote of the Citizens' Assembly within a period of not more than seven Mars days; and, following an open hearing presided over by three Judges, shall be convicted upon a vote of two thirds of the Citizens' Assembly within a period of not more than one Mars day. Punishment in event of conviction shall not exceed loss of citizenship and expulsion from the Commonwealth.

Sec.4. The Judicial System.
Par.1. All civil and criminal cases under the jurisdiction of the Tharsis Montes Commonwealth shall be tried by Judges nominated by the Commonwealth Council and duly confirmed by the Citizens' Assembly.

Par.2. Civil cases not exceeding in value a limit set by the Citizens' Assembly, and criminal misdemeanor cases, shall be heard by a single Judge.

Par.3. Criminal felony cases shall be heard by a panel of three Judges, two Judges being necessary to convict, or three in event of a capital crime.

Par.4. Convictions in event of a capital crime shall be reviewed by a second independent panel of three Judges, all three being necessary to sustain the sentence; and in no case shall any further appeal be provided. The Citizens' Assembly reserves the right to legislate conditions more restrictive than those in this paragraph.

Par.5. Any citizen, on due conviction of a felony, shall be stripped of citizenship; and the Commonwealth Council, at its option, may provide the convict passage to Earth on the next available ship, and may seize all capital and goods accrued by the convict during his or her residency in the Commonwealth; and may confine the convict until passage out of the Commonwealth is available.

Par.6. Any Judge may be impeached, convicted, and removed from office upon a vote of two thirds of the Citizens' Assembly within a period of not more than seven Mars days.

Par.7. Judges shall base their decisions on the evidence and testimony presented, in accordance with the Constitution and Laws of the Tharsis Montes Commonwealth, according to strict constructionist principles; and their powers shall not extend to judicial review of legislation.

Par.8. Cases arising during an emergency shall not come under judicial jurisdiction until after the emergency has passed; and duly authorized officials shall be responsible, not to judicial jurisdiction, but rather to their superiors, for actions performed in the discharge of duty while in free fall, in orbit, or in deep space, or while under pressure suit conditions.

Sec.5. Civil Rights.
Par.1. The civil rights, privileges, or capacities of any citizen shall in no way be diminished or enlarged on account of religion.

Par.2. The Assembly shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of self-expression in any manner which does not pose a clear and immediate threat to public safety.

Par.3. The Assembly shall make no law abridging the right of residents peaceably to assemble, subject to the physical confines of available space and the capacity of life support systems.

Par.4. Weapons and instruments of lethal intent shall not be held except by duly authorized officials in the execution of duty, or by citizens and residents for self-defense under pressure suit conditions on the surface of the planet.

Par.5. The Commonwealth shall hold in trust for the public all real estate, air, water, and food rights, which shall be entrusted to citizens, residents, and visitors for use but not for ownership, upon timely payment of such taxes as the Assembly itself shall determine. Nonetheless, no citizen shall be deprived of trusteeship over such resources as he or she may administer, except for conviction of a felony by due process, or for arrearment in taxes.

Par.6. In all other regards, the right of citizens to hold capital and goods, and to enter into binding contracts of any sort, shall not be infringed, barring cases of fraud and illegality.

Par.7. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, data, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.

Par.8. No person shall be held to give testimony against self, except in cases arising out of events while in free fall, in orbit, or in deep space, or while under pressure suit conditions; or in cases involving a clear and immediate danger to the life support capability of one or more settlements within the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding which, any person refusing to give testimony in a felony case may be given passage to Earth on the next available ship, though without loss of citizenship, capital, or goods unless forfeited under other conditions herein detailed.

Par.9. All persons under judicial jurisdiction shall have the right to a speedy and public trial.

Par.10. The enumeration in this Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people; and the powers not delegated to the Commonwealth or its Council by this Constitution, and not prohibited by the terms of the same, are reserved to the citizens of the Commonwealth.

Par.11. Notwithstanding, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to imply protection for any clear and present threat to the life support systems of the settlements within this Commonwealth; and the Commonwealth Council, duly authorized officials, and citizens of the Commonwealth may take any steps necessary to deal with any such clear and present threat.

Sec.6. Amendments.
Par.1. Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed:

(1) through the sponsorship of one thousand citizens or ten per cent of the citizenship of the Commonwealth, whichever is greater; or,

(2) by a two thirds majority of the Commonwealth Council; or,

(3) by simple majority vote of a Public Forum.

Par.2. Amendments to this Constitution shall be ratified by a vote of two thirds of the citizens of the Commonwealth, within a period beginning seven Mars days after the calendar day on which the amendment is proposed, and extending for a period of thirty Mars days. An amendment unratified by the end of such a period shall expire. An amendment ratified within such a period shall take effect on the next calendar day following its ratification.

In support of this Constitution, and of the sovereign Tharsis Montes Commonwealth, we the undersigned pledge life and honor, and commend the efforts of the Constitutional Convention to all registered as citizens in the settlements listed hereinunder:

Tharsis City.
Lafayette Warren.
Arsia Mons Warren.
Ulysses Patera Warren.
Luna, Tharsis, & Vesta Orbital Mars Platform No. 1.
   & associated Hutches and Encampments.

Inscribed in Convention at Tharsis City, this 13th day of June, 2043.

Appendix on Demographics

The Tharsis Montes Commonwealth was the first governmental unit to be chartered outside the Earth-Luna system under the terms of the 1998 United Nations Treaty for the Development of Outer Space. At the time of its chartering, 13 June 2043, the human race was distributed roughly as follows:

(1) Earth-Luna system

(1) the planet Earth: 7,300,000,000

(2) the Moon: 1,200,000

[largest settlement, Aristarchus Center, pop. 420,000; almost 500 significant settlements on surface of Moon, 20 with at least 10,000 pop.]

(3) Space stations & orbital platforms: 3,000,000
[dozens of stations & platforms; the largest, Nippon L5, with 300,000 residents]

(2) Venus orbital: 400
[Russian Venera-25 space station, in polar orbit around Venus]

(3) Mars: 18,000
[see below]

(4) Asteroids: 2,000
[Small settlements on Ceres and Vesta; smaller encampments & wandering prospectors spread through other sites in the asteroid belt]

The above does not count all those in interplanetary transit, a quantity which numbered several hundreds at any one time; the several hundred scientists present on one of three deep-space astronomical platforms in solar orbit between Earth and Mars; or the 15-member expedition which was at this time engaged in exploring the moons of Jupiter.

A further breakdown of demographics for human Mars colonists shows that the Tharsis Montes Commonwealth was by far the most populous Mars colony:

(1) Tharsis Montes Commonwealth: 10,300

(2) Olympus Mons colony: 2,300

(3) Arcadia Planitia colonies: 2,100

[six Brazillian industrial settlements]

(4) Cerberus Station: 600
[American colony with multinational corporate backing]

(5) Argyre Planitia colony: 450
[Japanese corporate settlement]

(6) Russian Mars Polar research stations: 350

(7) Scattered hutches & warrens: total ca. 400

[30 or more settlements]

(8) Outpost on the moon Phobos: 100

(9) Space stations unaffiliated with "planetside" settlements, in Mars orbit: 1,400

The first manned expedition to land on Mars was the Japanese Nihon Kiin mission, 1 February 2012. The oldest permanent Mars colony was the underground complex near Olympus Mons, established by a joint British-French-German-Italian-Basque consortium in 2018. The Tharsis Montes colony was established in 2023, and showed the following growth:

2023: 20
2025: 30
2030: 150
2035: 1,200
2040: 7,000
2043: 10,300
At the time the Commonwealth was chartered, new colonists were arriving at Tharsis at an average rate of eighty per month. Many came in cold sleep on cargo ships from the Earth-Luna system. Other Mars settlements were experiencing rapid growth too, but none at anything like the rate of the Tharsis Montes colony.

Tharsis Montes was the only significant colony on Mars to be owned and administered by an "off-Earth" concern, the Aristarchus-Center-based Luna, Tharsis, and Vesta Industrial Development Corporation. This corporation also owned and administered a small settlement on the asteroid Vesta, as well as numerous properties on the Moon and in orbit in the Earth-Luna system. It was at the urging of the Corporation that the Commonwealth was chartered as a sovereign governmental unit under United Nations treaty, so as to be able to cope more efficiently with the rapid growth and rapidly changing conditions in the colony. The Corporation still provided significant financial backing for the Commonwealth, and continued to exert substantial political influence in the fledgling Commonwealth, both through its representatives on the Commonwealth Council, and through "behind-the-scenes" maneuvers of various sorts.

Tharsis City, administrative center of the commonwealth, was at this time by far the largest Mars settlement (holding almost half the total human population of Mars), and in fact the largest human settlement outside the Earth-Luna system. It was a rough, raw frontier settlement, becoming increasingly difficult to police and control. The outlying Tharsis Montes settlements, like other human settlements on Mars, were divided rather arbitrarily into "warrens" (enclosed communities of from several dozen to several hundred members), "hutches" (permanent habitations holding only two or three families) and mobile encampments operating out of Mars surface vehicles, mostly though not entirely for prospecting or commercial projects. Demographic breakdown of Tharsis Montes Commonwealth as of June 2043:

(1) Tharsis City: 8,200
(2) Lafayette Warren: 450
(3) Arsia Mons Warren: 170
(4) Ulysses Patera Warren: 60
(5) Scattered hutches [50 or more]: 620
(6) Encampments & nomadic: ca. 200
(7) L. T. & V. Orbital Mars Platform No. 1: 600