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Constitution of Micronesia (1981, rev. 1990)

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2


3Preamble

4WE, THE PEOPLE OF MICRONESIA, exercising our inherent sovereignty, do hereby establish this Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia.

5With this Constitution, we affirm our common wish to live together in peace and harmony, to preserve the heritage of the past, and to protect the promise of the future.

6To make one nation of many islands, we respect the diversity of our cultures. Our differences enrich us. The seas bring us together, they do not separate us. Our islands sustain us, our island nation enlarges us and makes us stronger.

7Our ancestors, who made their homes on these islands, displaced no other people. We, who remain, wish no other home than this. Having known war, we hope for peace. Having been divided, we wish unity. Having been ruled, we seek freedom.

8Micronesia began in the days when man explored seas in rafts and canoes. The Micronesian nation is born in an age when men voyage among stars; our world itself is an island. We extend to all nations what we seek from each: peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity. With this Constitution we, who have been the wards of other nations, become the proud guardian of our own islands, now and forever.

9ARTICLE I. TERRITORY OF MICRONESIA

10SECTION 1

11The territory of the Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of the Districts of the Micronesian archipelago that ratify this Constitution. Unless limited by international treaty obligations assumed by the Federated States of Micronesia, or by its own act, the waters connecting the islands of the archipelago are internal waters regardless of dimensions, and jurisdiction extends to a marine space of 200 miles measured outward from appropriate baselines, the seabed, subsoil, water column, insular or continental shelves, airspace over land and water, and any other territory or waters belonging to Micronesia by historic right, custom, or legal title.

12SECTION 2

13Each state is comprised of the islands of each District as defined by laws in effect immediately prior to the effective date of this Constitution. A marine boundary between adjacent states is determined by law, applying the principle of equidistance. State boundaries may be changed by Congress with the consent of the state legislatures involved.

14SECTION 3

15Territory may be added to the Federated States of Micronesia upon approval of Congress, and by vote of the inhabitants of the area, if any, and by vote of the people of the Federated States of Micronesia. If the territory is to become part of an existing state, approval of the state legislature is required.

16SECTION 4

17New states may be formed and admitted by law, subject to the same rights, duties, and obligations as provided for in this Constitution.

18ARTICLE II. SUPREMACY

19SECTION 1

20This Constitution is the expression of the sovereignty of the people and is the supreme law of the Federated States of Micronesia. An act of the Government in conflict with this Constitution is invalid to the extent of conflict.

21ARTICLE III. CITIZENSHIP

22SECTION 1

23A person who is a citizen of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands immediately prior to the effective date of this Constitution and a domiciliary of a district ratifying this Constitution is a citizen and national of the Federated States of Micronesia.

24SECTION 2

25A person born of parents one or both of whom are citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia is a citizen and national of the Federated States by birth.

26SECTION 3

27A citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia who is recognized as a citizen of another nation shall, within 3 years of his 18th birthday, or within 3 years of the effective date of this Constitution, whichever is later, register his intent to remain a citizen of the Federated States and renounce his citizenship of another nation. If he fails to comply with this Section, he becomes a national of the Federated States of Micronesia.

28SECTION 4

29A citizen of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands who becomes a national of the United States of America under the terms of the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands may become a citizen and national of the Federated States of Micronesia by applying to a court of competent jurisdiction in the Federated States within 6 months of the date he became a United States national.

30SECTION 5

31A domiciliary of a District not ratifying this Constitution who was a citizen of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands immediately prior to the effective date of this Constitution, may become a citizen and national of the Federated States of Micronesia by applying to a court of competent jurisdiction in the Federated States within 6 months after the effective date of this Constitution or within 6 months after his 18th birthday, whichever is later.

32SECTION 6

33This Article may be applied retroactively.

34ARTICLE IV. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

35SECTION 1

36No law may deny or impair freedom of expression, peaceable assembly, association, or petition.

37SECTION 2

38No law may be passed respecting an establishment of religion or impairing the free exercise of religion, except that assistance may be provided to parochial schools for nonreligious purposes.

39SECTION 3

40A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or be denied the equal protection of the laws.

41SECTION 4

42Equal protection of the laws may not be denied or impaired on account of sex, race, ancestry, national origin, language, or social status.

43SECTION 5

44The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and other possessions against unreasonable search, seizure, or invasion of privacy may not be violated. A warrant may not issue except on probable cause, supported by affidavit particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

45SECTION 6

46The defendant in a criminal case has a right to a speedy public trial, to be informed of the nature of the accusation, to have counsel for his defense, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, and to compel attendance of witnesses in his behalf.

47SECTION 7

48A person may not be compelled to give evidence that may be used against him in a criminal case, or be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense.

49SECTION 8

50Excessive bail may not be required, excessive fines imposed, or cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. The writ of habeas corpus may not be suspended unless required for public safety in cases of rebellion or invasion.

51SECTION 9

52Capital punishment is prohibited.

53SECTION 10

54Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited except to punish crime.

55SECTION 11

56A bill of attainder or ex post facto law may not be passed.

57SECTION 12

58A citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia may travel and migrate within the Federated States.

59SECTION 13

60Imprisonment for debt is prohibited.

61ARTICLE V. TRADITIONAL RIGHTS

62SECTION 1

63Nothing in this Constitution takes away a role or function of a traditional leader as recognized by custom and tradition, or prevents a traditional leader from being recognized, honored, and given formal or functional roles at any level of government as may be prescribed by this Constitution or by statute.

64SECTION 2

65The traditions of the people of the Federated States of Micronesia may be protected by statute. If challenged as violative of Article IV, protection of Micronesian tradition shall be considered a compelling social purpose warranting such governmental action.

66SECTION 3

67The Congress may establish, when needed, a Chamber of Chiefs consisting of traditional leaders from each state having such leaders, and of elected representatives from states having no traditional leaders. The constitution of a state having traditional leaders may provide for an active, functional role for them.

68ARTICLE VI. SUFFRAGE

69SECTION 1

70A citizen 18 years of age may vote in national elections. The Congress shall prescribe a minimum period of local residence and provide for voter registration, disqualification for conviction of crime, and disqualification for mental incompetence or insanity. Voting shall be secret.

71ARTICLE VII. LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT

72SECTION 1

73The three levels of government in the Federated States of Micronesia are national, state, and local. A state is not required to establish a new local government where none exists on the effective date of this Constitution.

74SECTION 2

75A state shall have a democratic constitution.

76ARTICLE VIII. POWERS OF GOVERNMENT

77SECTION 1

78A power expressly delegated to the national government, or a power of such an indisputably national character as to be beyond the power of a state to control, is a national power.

79SECTION 2

80A power not expressly delegated to the national government, or prohibited to the states is a state power.

81SECTION 3

82State and local governments are prohibited from imposing taxes which restrict interstate commerce.

83ARTICLE IX. LEGISLATIVE

84SECTION 1

85The legislative power of the national government is vested in the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia.

86SECTION 2

87The following powers are expressly delegated to Congress:

88a.to provide for the national defense;

89b.to ratify treaties;

90c.to regulate immigration, emigration, naturalization, and citizenship;

91d.to impose taxes, duties, and tariffs based on imports;

92e.to impose taxes on income;

93f.to issue and regulate currency;

94g.to regulate banking, foreign and interstate commerce, insurance, the issuance and use of commercial paper and securities, bankruptcy and insolvency, and patents and copyrights;

95h.to regulate navigation and shipping except within lagoons, lakes, and rivers;

96i.to establish usury limits on major loans;

97j.to provide for a national postal system;

98k.to acquire and govern new territory;

99l.to govern the area set aside as the national capital;

100m.to regulate the ownership, exploration, and exploitation of natural resources within the marine space of the Federated States of Micronesia beyond 12 miles from island baselines;

101n.to establish and regulate a national public service system;

102o.to impeach and remove the President, Vice President, and justices of the Supreme Court;

103p.to define national crimes and prescribe penalties, having due regard for local custom and tradition;

104q.to override a Presidential veto by not less than a 3/4 vote of all the state delegations, each delegation casting one vote; and

105r.to promote education and health by setting minimum standards, coordinating state activities relating to foreign assistance, providing training and assistance to the states and providing support for post-secondary educational programs and projects.

106SECTION 3

107The following powers may be exercised concurrently by Congress and the states:

108a.to appropriate public funds;

109b.to borrow money on the public credit;

110c.to establish systems of social security and public welfare.

111SECTION 4

112A treaty is ratified by vote of 2/3 of the members of Congress, except that a treaty delegating major powers of government of the Federated States of Micronesia to another government shall also require majority approval by the legislatures of 2/3 of the states.

113SECTION 5

114National taxes shall be imposed uniformly. Not less than 50% of the revenues shall be paid into the treasury of the state where collected.

115SECTION 6

116Net revenue derived from ocean floor mineral resources exploited under Section 2(m) shall be divided equally between the national government and the appropriate state government.

117SECTION 7

118The President, Vice President, or a justice of the Supreme Court may be removed from office for treason, bribery, or conduct involving corruption in office by a 2/3 vote of the members of Congress. When the President or Vice President is removed, the Supreme Court shall review the decision. When a justice of the Supreme Court is removed, the decision shall be reviewed by a special tribunal composed of one state court judge from each state appointed by the state chief executive. The special tribunal shall meet at the call of the President.

119SECTION 8

120The Congress consists of one member elected at large from each state on the basis of state equality, and additional members elected from congressional districts in each state apportioned by population. Members elected on the basis of state equality serve for a 4year term, and all other members for 2 years. Each member has one vote, except on the final reading of bills. Congressional elections are held biennially as provided by statute.

121SECTION 9

122A person is ineligible to be a member of Congress unless he is at least 30 years of age on the day of election and has been a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia for at least 15 years, and a resident of the state from which he is elected for at least 5 years. A person convicted of a felony by a state or national government court is ineligible to be a member of Congress. The Congress may modify this provision or prescribe additional qualifications; knowledge of the English language may not be a qualification.

123SECTION 10

124At least every 10 years Congress shall reapportion itself. A state is entitled to at least one member of Congress on the basis of population in addition to the member elected at large. A state shall apportion itself by law into single member congressional districts. Each district shall be approximately equal in population after giving due regard to language, cultural, and geographic differences.

125SECTION 11

126A state may provide that one of its seats is set aside for a traditional leader who shall be chosen as provided by statute for a 2-year term, in lieu of one representative elected on the basis of population. The number of congressional districts shall be reduced and reapportioned accordingly.

127SECTION 12

128A vacancy in Congress is filled for the unexpired term. In the absence of provision by law, an unexpired term is filled by special election, except that an unexpired term of less than one year is filled by appointment by the state chief executive.

129SECTION 13

130A member of Congress may not hold another public office or employment. During the term for which he is elected and 3 years thereafter, a member may not be elected or appointed to a public office or employment created by national statute during his term. A member may not engage in any activity which conflicts with the proper discharge of his duties. The Congress may prescribe further restrictions.

131SECTION 14

132The Congress may prescribe an annual salary and allowances for members. An increase of salary may not apply to the Congress enacting it.

133SECTION 15

134A member of Congress is privileged from arrest during his attendance at Congress and while going to and from sessions, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace. A member answers only to Congress for his statements in Congress.

135SECTION 16

136The Congress shall meet in regular, public session as prescribed by statute. A special session may be convened at the call of the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, or by the presiding officer on the written request of 2/3 of the members.

137SECTION 17

138a. The Congress shall be the sole judge of the elections and qualifications of its members, may discipline a member, and, by 2/3 vote, may suspend or expel a member.

139b. The Congress may determine its own rules of procedure and choose a presiding officer from among its members.

140c. The Congress may compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documents or other matters before Congress or any of its committees.

141SECTION 18

142A majority of the members is a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and compel the attendance of absent members.

143SECTION 19

144The Congress shall keep and publish a journal of its proceedings. A roll call vote entered on the journal shall be taken at the request of 1/5 of the members present. Legislative proceedings shall be conducted in the English language. A member may use his own language if not fluent in English, and Congress shall provide translation.

145SECTION 20

146To become law, a bill must pass 2 readings on separate days. To pass first reading a 2/3 vote of all members is required. On final reading each state delegation shall cast one vote and a 2/3 vote of all the delegations is required. All votes shall be entered on the journal.

147SECTION 21

148a. The Congress may make no law except by statute and may enact no statute except by bill. The enacting clause of a bill is: "BE IT ENACTED BY THE CONGRESS OF THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA:". A bill may embrace but one subject expressed in its title. A provision outside the subject expressed in the title is void.

149b. A law may not be amended or revised by reference to its title only. The law as revised or section as amended shall be published and re-enacted at full length.

150SECTION 22

151A bill passed by Congress shall be presented to the President for approval. If he disapproves of the bill, he shall return it with his objections to Congress within 10 days. If Congress has 10 or less days remaining in its session, or has adjourned, he shall return the bill within 30 days after presentation. If the President does not return a bill within the appropriate period, it becomes law as if approved.

152ARTICLE X. EXECUTIVE

153SECTION 1

154The executive power of the national government is vested in the President of the Federated States of Micronesia. He is elected by Congress for a term of four years by a majority vote of all the members. He may not serve for more than 2 consecutive terms.

155SECTION 2

156The following powers are expressly delegated to the President:

157a.to faithfully execute and implement the provisions of this Constitution and all national laws;

158b.to receive all ambassadors and to conduct foreign affairs and the national defense in accordance with national law;

159c.to grant pardons and reprieves, except that the chief executive of each state shall have this power concurrently with respect to persons convicted under state law; and

160d.with the advice and consent of Congress, to appoint ambassadors; all judges of the Supreme Court and other courts prescribed by statute; the principal officers of executive departments in the national government; and such other officers as may be provided for by statute. Ambassadors and principal officers serve at the pleasure of the President.

161SECTION 3

162The President:

163a.is head of state of the Federated States of Micronesia;

164b.may make recommendations to Congress, and shall make an annual report to Congress on the state of the nation; and

165c.shall perform such duties as may be provided by statute.

166SECTION 4

167A person is ineligible to become President unless he is a member of Congress for a 4-year term, a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia by birth, and a resident of the Federated States of Micronesia for at least 15 years.

168SECTION 5

169After the election of the President, the Vice President is elected in the same manner as the President, has the same qualifications, and serves for the same term of office. He may not be a resident of the same state. After the election of the President and the Vice President, vacancies in Congress shall be declared.

170SECTION 6

171If the office of the President is vacant, or the President is unable to perform his duties, the Vice President becomes President. The Congress shall provide by statute for the succession in the event both offices are vacant, or either or both officers are unable to discharge their duties.

172SECTION 7

173The compensation of the President or Vice President may not be increased or reduced during his term. They may hold no other office and may receive no other compensation from the Federated States of Micronesia or from a state.

174SECTION 8

175Executive departments shall be established by statute.

176SECTION 9

177a. If required to preserve public peace, health, or safety at a time of extreme emergency caused by civil disturbance, natural disaster, or immediate threat of war, or insurrection, the President may declare a state of emergency and issue appropriate decrees.

178b. A civil right may be impaired only to the extent actually required for the preservation of peace, health, or safety. A declaration of emergency may not impair the power of the judiciary except that the declaration shall be free from judicial interference for 30 days after it is first issued.

179c. Within 30 days after the declaration of emergency, the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia shall convene at the call of its presiding officer or the President to consider revocation, amendment, or extension of the declaration. Unless it expires by its own terms, is revoked, or extended, a declaration of emergency is effective for 30 days.

180ARTICLE XI. JUDICIAL

181SECTION 1

182The judicial power of the national government is vested in a Supreme Court and inferior courts established by statute.

183SECTION 2

184The Supreme Court is a court of record and the highest court in the nation. It consists of a Chief Justice and not more than 5 associate justices. Each justice is a member of both the trial division and the appellate division, except that sessions of the trial division may be held by one justice. No justice may sit with the appellate division in a case heard by him in the trial division. At least 3 justices shall hear and decide appeals. Decision is by a majority of those sitting.

185SECTION 3

186The Chief Justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President with the approval of 2/3 of Congress. Justices serve during good behavior.

187SECTION 4

188If the Chief Justice is unable to perform his duties he shall appoint an associate justice to act in his stead. If the office is vacant, or the Chief Justice fails to make the appointment, the President shall appoint an associate justice to act as Chief Justice until the vacancy is filled or the Chief Justice resumes his duties.

189SECTION 5

190The qualifications and compensation of justices and other judges may be prescribed by statute. Compensation of judges may not be diminished during their terms of office unless all salaries prescribed by statute are reduced by a uniform percentage.

191SECTION 6

192a. The trial division of the Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction in cases affecting officials of foreign governments, disputes between states, admiralty or maritime cases, and in cases in which the national government is a party except where an interest in land is at issue.

193b. The national courts, including the trial division of the Supreme Court, have concurrent original jurisdiction in cases arising under this Constitution; national law or treaties; and in disputes between a state and a citizen of another state, between citizens of different states, and between a state or a citizen thereof, and a foreign state, citizen, or subject.

194c. When jurisdiction is concurrent, the proper court may be prescribed by statute.

195SECTION 7

196The appellate division of the Supreme Court may review cases heard in the national courts, and cases heard in state or local courts if they require interpretation of this Constitution, national law, or a treaty. If a state constitution permits, the appellate division of the Supreme Court may review other cases on appeal from the highest state court in which a decision may be had.

197SECTION 8

198When a case in a state or local court involves a substantial question requiring the interpretation of the Constitution, national law, or a treaty, on application of a party or on its own motion the court shall certify the question to the appellate division of the Supreme Court. The appellate division of the Supreme Court may decide on the case or remand it for further proceedings.

199SECTION 9

200The Chief Justice is the chief administrator of the national judicial system and may appoint an administrative officer who is exempt from civil service. The Chief Justice shall make and publish and may amend rules governing national courts, and by rule may:

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  • Theoretical/Philosophical
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