March 11th 2015
It was a time of expansion. Ship technology had become much more accessible to the masses thanks to sustained trade with the Banu Protectorate. As more and more people were getting out into space, it seemed like jump points were being discovered every few months. Terraforming companies of all sizes began to spring up to try and compete for the rush of new systems. Exploration seized the public’s attention and tales of explorers inflamed their imagination.
Among the systems that had already been discovered, where settlements were growing into towns and towns into cities, things were becoming a little more complicated.
The transition from the United Nations of Earth into the United Planets of Earth had occurred almost two (standard) years prior and the evolution was not without its hiccups. The Senate, now composed of planetary representatives, finally had its first session (nearly every single record of the era described this session as “tumultuous”) while the tribunal of High Secretary, High Advocate and High General were still trying to figure out their roles.
The first great task of this newly formed government was to construct a foundation on which to govern. This diverse group of newly elected senators came from a wide variety of political systems, so the discussion brought a series of conflicting local laws to the government’s attention. Even the basic question of what a government is obligated to provide varied from planet to planet, with some providing broad social services and others only providing military protection and law enforcement.
The various sides clashed for months trying to work out a complicated system that could accommodate the various perspectives, but ultimately a senator from Davien took the floor.
Nomi Rao had made a name for herself in local law enforcement and as a Solicitor on Cestulus before entering politics. She won by an overwhelming margin but had spoken very few words since arriving on Earth for the formation of the Senate. During the debate that had seized the Senate floor, she did not participate. She simply listened and considered the debate that raged around her.
Finally on 2525-03-10, Senator Rao asked to be recognized. Over the course of the next hour, she outlined a plan to provide a foundation of basic rights and services to which every planet in a UPE-claimed system, regardless of their representation status, would be subject.
These rights and services included what she called ‘fundamental personal freedoms’ as well as standardized safety practices for structures and products, health services, basic education, trade and travel, and a security force.
Outside of these basic services, the planet and local governments could be free to create any style of government or law as long as it doesn’t contradict with these baseline rights.
The motion became known as Common Laws Initiative.
One would have hoped that the combative elements of the Senate would have accepted this proposal and the simplicity of it would have united them in approval.
It didn’t. The presentation of the Common Laws instantly ignited another firestorm of argument. Newly settled worlds balked at the notion of providing services for inhabitants — how could they when they were barely in their infancy? Some of the larger, more-established planets refused to support such a notion, believing that they be inevitably tasked with financially supporting those developing or struggling planets.
Senator Rao refused to be overwhelmed. This quiet senator from Davien worked tirelessly with opponents and proponents alike to mold and shape the initiative into a system that worked.
The Common Laws passed almost a year later and — while they have been amended from time to time — still fill a core role in the empire’s governance.