"Discussion Version"

of the

Constitution of Jurlandia

Chapter V

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This "Discussion Version" contains hotlinks to the Explanatory Essay and other materials on this website and elsewhere.

This version breaks the document into five parts, corresponding to its five chapters.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV


Article 1.

1. The Parliament shall not make or allow, nor shall the President implement or enforce, nor shall any person obey or uphold, any legislation, regulation, ordinance, or rule that deprives any person of life, liberty, property, or any other rights, privileges, or immunities, without due process of law.

(1) By "due process of law" this Constitution means a fundamentally fair and reasonable command or procedure, under the particular circumstances, as that concept has evolved in advanced constitutional democracies. The people of Jurlandia hereby instruct the Supreme Court that it shall interpret and embrace all of Jurlandia's law within a firmament of rationality and justice according to the fundamental precepts of advanced constitutional democracies.

(2) By "fundamentally fair" and "reasonable" and similar terms, this Constitution instructs that the Supreme Court shall find, refine, and evolve standards that are based on wisdoms developed out of historical experience, including the experiences of countries that have sought to give these terms an elevated meaning over centuries, so that these terms — applied and refined on a case-by-case basis in Jurlandia — shall, in due course, provide ascertainable standards of fair and rational conduct for all legislative, executive, and judicial officers.

(3) This Constitution instructs the Supreme Court that, in applying standards like due process of law and equal protection of the law, the Court will develop a jurisprudence of "case law" that will refine and clarify the meanings of all the terms of this Constitution, thereby providing genuine and enforceable guidance to lower courts and all public officials regarding the standards of conduct required of them under this Constitution.

2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as contravening this Constitution when it results from the use of force that is no more than reasonably necessary in defense of a person from unlawful violence, or when it results from the application of proper procedures, pursuant to legislation, covering:

(1) A request by a person who would otherwise be kept alive by artificial means, to terminate his or her life; or

(2) A request by a pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy.

3. With reference to paragraph 2, subparagraphs 1 and 2, the people intend to avoid constitutional confusion by specifying that, if the Parliament legislates on these specific subjects, then the Supreme Court shall not interpose a constitutional prohibition on such legislation; to this extent, and in this way only, the due process of law requirement with respect to the "right to life" may be modified by legislation.

4. All persons shall be equal before the law and shall be entitled to the equal protection of the law. No law and no executive or judicial action may either expressly or in its practical application discriminate against any person on the basis of age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, race, color, language, social origin, place of birth, family, religion, or political or other opinion. No bill of attainder, or any legislation intended to punish or discriminate against any particular person or association, shall be enforced, and all laws shall treat all similarly-situated persons, groups, associations, or classifications thereof, similarly, in the interests of justice. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit classifications among persons based on bona-fide, rational criteria that serve a compelling governmental interest that cannot be served by a less restrictive alternative.

Article 2.

1. No restriction shall be placed on the use by any person of any language or code in private communications, nor shall any other restriction on language use be unreasonable under the circumstances.

2. Parents and guardians may not be prohibited from enrolling their children in private schools, including schools in which the dominant language of instruction is not Jurlandic or Russian, but legislation may require that such schools provide up to two hours of Jurlandic or Russian language instruction daily, at public expense.

3. All children shall have the right to an education that provides them with a reasonable opportunity to learn. Reasonable accommodations shall be made to ensure that elementary school children who belong to linguistic minorities get remedial assistance, as necessary and practicable, in mastering subjects taught in an unfamiliar language, so that their minority status will not impede their educational progress.

4. Regions and districts in which a significant proportion of the population belongs to an ethnic or linguistic minority shall expend public funds in such a manner as will ensure that the minority population receives an equitable share for educational, cultural, and other public services.

Article 3.

1. All persons shall have the right to freedom of inquiry, thought, conscience, and belief; to freedom of speech and of the press, including broadcast media; and to the free exercise of religion. These freedoms shall include the freedom to change one's thoughts, beliefs, or religion — either alone or in community with others — and to manifest one's thoughts, beliefs, or religion in teaching, practice, observance, and worship. All persons shall also have the right to peaceful assembly and association with others, whether or not within the context of any formal organization such as a political party, trade union, professional association, or corporation; such an organization may, however, be subject to reasonable licensing and similar restrictions pursuant to legislation governing the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of these organizations; the people hereby instruct that their natural and inalienable right of association shall not be confused with legislatively-created privileges of specific kinds of organizations, including but not restricted to those here named.

2. Restrictions imposed by legislation or jurisprudence, regulating the time, place, and manner of the exercise of these rights, are permissible only if:

(1) The restrictions are necessary to preserve public peace, order, health, or the security, rights, and freedoms of others; and

(2) There exist no less-restrictive means of doing so; and

(3) The restrictions do not penalize conduct on the basis of disagreement with the ideas or beliefs held or expressed.

3. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prevent the Republic of Jurlandia from extending financial aid to religiously supported institutions, insofar as they furnish educational, cultural, medical, or other services at no profit, and provided such aid does not discriminate among religious groups or beliefs on the basis of a preference for some religions over others.

Article 4.

All persons lawfully within the territory of the Republic of Jurlandia shall have the right to freedom of movement, including the right to choose their place of residence. Restrictions upon these freedoms through a propiska system are expressly prohibited. No person lawfully in Jurlandia shall be expelled from Jurlandia. Every person shall be free to leave Jurlandia, unless restricted by detention or incarceration pursuant to due process of law.

Article 5.

1. No law shall unreasonably abridge the right to own, create, buy, use, enjoy, alter, protect, sell, give away, and otherwise control or dispose of property, of whatever kind, or any interest therein, according to the generally accepted principles of law in advanced constitutional democracies. Oil, gas, gold, and other mineral resources may belong to the people, as state property; if so, the Parliament shall enact legislation governing the exploitation of such resources. The Parliament shall enact legislation governing grazing, hunting, sporting, camping, and similar privileges on state lands. The Parliament shall also enact legislation governing historical artifacts and objects of national heritage.

2. If the Republic of Jurlandia or any local government takes any property, that taking shall only be pursuant to legislative authorization, for a public purpose, and upon payment of just compensation. Where any land or housing rights are taken, adequate compensation shall include reasonably equivalent land or housing rights, or the means to obtain the sustenance and benefits that such land or housing rights provided. Property shall not be deemed taken if it is sold at public auction to satisfy a debt to the public, including unpaid taxes or fines, so long as any money exceeding the debt plus reasonable expenses of the sale is paid to the owner, nor shall property be deemed taken whose value is only marginally reduced by non-discriminatory restrictions on use, or by non-discriminatory burdens that do not significantly change the property's character.

Article 6.

1. No law shall unreasonably abridge the right of any person, group, organization, or entity to make and enforce contracts with any other person, group, organization, or entity, according to the generally accepted principles of law in advanced constitutional democracies. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the Parliament from enacting reasonable legislation on this subject.

2. No law shall unreasonably restrict the right of any person, association, group, or corporation to own property of whatever kind; to engage or decline to engage in contractual and commercial activities, whether as an employer or an employee; to form, or decline to join, any labor union or other organization of workers, for the purpose of collective bargaining; to strike for improved wages and working conditions; to organize as residents of a housing complex, for the purpose of improving housing conditions, and to withhold payments of rent, to ensure the safety and habitability of housing. The Parliament shall enact legislation governing rights and responsibilities hereunder, within one year of its election, including rights and responsibilities of the state with regard to public utilities.

Article 7.

1. A man and woman, upon reaching the age of 18, may marry and have a family. The Parliament may provide for marriage of either spouse at a younger age. Marriage shall be based on the voluntary assent and equality of spouses. Parents shall have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and education of their children, so long as this does not harm the children. The Republic shall provide for the upbringing and education of orphans, shall assist needy children, and shall also encourage private charitable support for children.

2. The Parliament shall, from time to time, establish minimum standards for wages and pensions, working conditions, housing conditions, conditions in educational institutions, conditions of health-care and nutrition, conditions of social and economic support for the poor and elderly, conditions of environmental health and safety, and conditions of military service. The Parliament shall therein specify the terms and circumstances under which these minimum standards may, if not met, form the basis for judicially-enforceable rights.

3. By this Constitution, the people express their determination to distinguish between those rights and freedoms which they can enforce in the Judicial Branch, and those societal ideals which the judiciary can only enforce to the extent that these ideals are incorporated into legislation which specifies the means by which they can be enforced, and the officers against whom enforcement action if any can be taken. All the rights in this Constitution are directly enforceable, through the Judicial Branch, except those rights requiring supplemental legislation as set forth in paragraph 2, above, and those ideals set forth in paragraph 4, below.

4. The people of Jurlandia desire that their Republic shall be based on ideals as well as laws; the accomplishment of these ideals depends upon their own labors and commitments, as well as those of organs of state power, and the Supreme Court is empowered to determine the extent to which — in the absence of enabling legislation — such ideals can give rise to legally-enforceable relationships between and among individuals, groups, associations, and organs of state power. These ideals include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Each person commits himself or herself to live in a manner that respects the rights and interests of all, including rights and interests which cannot be easily enforced, if at all, and which reflect moral rather than legal norms. All persons and officials shall treat others as they, in similar circumstances, would wish to be treated.

(2) The basic unit of society shall be the family, based on marriage, kinship, mutual respect, and the special needs of young and old. Although bonds of friendship and love cannot, as such, be subject to state command, the people by this Constitution instruct that parents shall look after their children up to the age of 16, and children shall look after their aged parents, consistent with their means.

(3) Private as well as public charity shall be encouraged, to help those who cannot care for themselves. The Republic shall especially encourage the development of local, neighborhood, and non-governmental initiatives to address social and economic problems.

(4) The Republic, and each citizen, shall endeavor to create a society in which the basic necessities of life — food, housing, clothing, healthcare, rest, recreation, and a good physical and cultural environment — are provided for all persons, yet in which all take personal responsibility, to the extent they are able, for their own well-being.

Article 8.

No law shall unreasonably abridge the right to sue and be sued in a court of law, with regard to advancement or protection of any right arising under this Constitution, nor shall any person, group, organization, or entity be unreasonably deprived of the right to sue any other person, group, organization, or entity in order to obtain compensation therefrom for insult, injury, or harm proximately caused by the criminal, wanton, deliberate, reckless, or negligent conduct thereof, according to the generally accepted principles of law in advanced constitutional democracies. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the Parliament from enacting reasonable legislation on this subject.

Article 9.

1. No person shall be accused or held guilty of any crime on the basis of any act or omission that did not constitute a crime at the time when allegedly committed, nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the crime was committed.

2. Any other ex post facto law shall be interpreted narrowly, in the interests of justice, and applied only to improve rather than impair the administration of justice.

Article 10.

1. No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or to excessive fines or deprivations. No person shall be imprisoned for failure to pay a fine assessed as a punishment for a crime unless he or she has been afforded a reasonable time to make payment and has been found to have the means to do so.

2. The elements of every crime shall be specified by legislation. All punishments shall be pursuant to legislative authority, but such legislation may permit reasonable discretion by sentencing judges.

Article 11.

No person shall be held in slavery or involuntary servitude. No person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labor. For purposes of this Article, the term "forced or compulsory labor" shall not include:

(1) Labor required by a sentence or similar order of a court, following criminal conviction; or

(2) Service of a military character, or any service in lieu of military service, when such service is lawfully required of others.

Article 12.

No person shall be arrested, detained, imprisoned, involuntarily hospitalized, or otherwise confined, except by due process of law and under the following circumstances:

(1) Arrest or detention for non-compliance with a lawful order of a court to secure the fulfillment of an obligation prescribed by law; or

(2) Arrest effected for the purpose of bringing a person before the competent judicial authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed a crime, or detention when reasonably necessary to prevent a person from committing a crime or fleeing after having done so; or

(3) Imprisonment or confinement following conviction by a court; or

(4) Detention of a minor, pursuant to a lawful order, for the purpose of educational supervision; or

(5) Hospitalization or confinement of a person to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, or of a person who is mentally or emotionally impaired, or of an alcoholic or drug addict, in order to provide medical and other care; or

(6) Confinement overnight, or other reasonable protective custody, of a vagrant or homeless person who needs protection and assistance, but only as authorized by legislation; or

(7) Arrest or detention to prevent a person's unauthorized entry into Jurlandia, or to hold a person in connection with his or her deportation or extradition proceedings.

Article 13.

1. Any person arrested pursuant to Article 12, subparagraph 2, shall within 48 hours be brought before a District Court judge, or an acting district court judge under the supervision of a District Court judge, for the purpose of making a District Court determination as to whether there is probable cause to hold the arrested person for trial — that is, whether it is more likely than not that a crime has been committed and that this person has committed it. If a determination of probable cause is not made promptly, the arrested person shall be released. If such a determination is made, the suspect shall be entitled to a trial within a reasonable time and to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned upon guarantees to appear for trial, or may be denied if a District Court judge believes that the suspect will not appear for trial or will pose a significant danger to others if released.

2. Every person who has been deprived of liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to institute judicial proceedings by which the lawfulness of the arrest or detention shall be speedily determined; immediate release shall be ordered by a judge if the arrest or detention was not lawful; the judge shall be empowered to enforce this order. The Parliament shall adopt legislation covering such proceedings within six months of its election. The people intend by this provision to ensure that no person shall ever again be arrested or detained in Jurlandia without benefit of a constitutional right to genuine judicial relief against unlawful arrests and detentions.

3. Every person who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this Constitution shall have a directly enforceable right to reasonable compensation from the Republic of Jurlandia.

Article 14.

No person shall be subjected to unreasonable interferences in personal choices that do not injure others. Every person is entitled to have others respect his or her reasonable expectations of individual privacy in correspondence, communications, and personal activities, and is hereby empowered to vindicate this right by seeking legal redress, including compensation for damages, from any person, group, organization, or entity that contravenes it. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the Parliament from enacting reasonable legislation on this subject.

Article 15.

1. Every person shall be secure in his or her person, home, papers, and effects, and only reasonable searches and seizures thereof shall be permissible. A search or seizure shall be deemed unreasonable if:

(1) It is not supported by a judicial warrant issued upon probable cause, supported by an investigator's oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized; such a warrant shall have been issued by a District Court judge or an acting district court judge supervised by a District Court judge; or

(2) A warrant was not obtained in a timely manner; or

(3) The person seized is not promptly informed of the reason for the seizure and is not ensured a prompt opportunity to contest its legality before a District Court judge or an acting district court judge supervised by a District Court judge; or

(4) Any search of premises not belonging to or occupied by the person believed to have committed a crime, is made without first providing the owner or occupant thereof with the opportunity to contest the permissibility of the search in an adversary proceeding, unless the judicial officer issuing the warrant for the search has reasonably determined that such prior notice and hearing would create an undue risk that the persons or things sought would be removed or otherwise made unavailable.

2. Evidence obtained through an unreasonable search or seizure or pursuant to an invalid warrant cannot be used in criminal proceedings to support a conviction.

Article 16.

1. Every person charged with a criminal offense shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty, in a judicial proceeding, beyond a reasonable doubt — that is, there is no significant doubt that a crime has been committed and that this person has committed it. Until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the suspect shall not be treated like a criminal.

2. No person may be compelled to give testimony against himself or any member of his immediate family during a criminal investigation or trial. Disclosure of information given by any person to a lawyer or a religious leader with a reasonable expectation that it will remain confidential, shall not be compelled in any criminal investigation or judicial proceeding.

3. No person may be subjected to coercive interrogation, nor may any confession be obtained from any person who has not first been informed of his rights to silence and to the assistance of a lawyer, and of the possibility that what he says will be used against him to support a criminal conviction. Any confession obtained in violation of the provisions of this Article shall be deemed involuntary and cannot be used to support a criminal conviction.

Article 17.

1. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the nature of the charges against him; to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defense; to all exculpatory evidence in the prosecutor's possession; to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choice; to legal assistance at public expense when the interests of justice require; to no unreasonable delays prior to trial; to a public trial before an impartial tribunal, in which the witnesses against him may be effectively cross-examined; to compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in the trial.

2. No person shall be tried twice for the same offense, but retrial shall be permitted after a conviction has been set aside on a defendant's appeal.

Article 18.

Any ambiguity in any criminal law or procedure shall be resolved against the prosecuting authorities; the defendant or any potential defendant shall have the benefit of any doubts concerning the scope, meaning, and implications of any such law or procedure. No person may be prosecuted, punished, or held to account for contravening any legislation, regulation, ordinance, or rule whose existence and content were not reasonably ascertainable for purposes of reasonable compliance therewith.

Article 19.

Secret laws and unaccountable official conduct are incompatible with constitutional democracies and governments under law. Reasonable restrictions on access to information regarding governmental activities and policies are permissible to protect legitimate interests, but mere embarrassment to governmental officials due to public knowledge of their mistakes shall not be a legitimate basis for restricting access to information about such mistakes.

Article 20.

1. Every person shall be entitled to invoke the judicial process as a means of vindicating any right or interest preserved or created by law. No person shall be denied access to the law, to the history of the law, and to the records and files necessary to a full and fair adjudication of his or her case, nor may any person be deprived of the legitimate right to obtain personal information from state archives.

2. To ensure proper fulfillment of this provision, a State Depository shall be established and maintained in the capital, in cities with a population of 100,000 or more, and in cities which have the status of an Oblast center.

(1) Each State Depository shall contain the sources of Jurlandia's law, plus major foreign texts, cases, and treatises elaborating the meaning of the terms and phrases of this Constitution.

(2) Each State Depository shall also contain the public records of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches following adoption of this Constitution, including the official findings and conclusions of administrative tribunals and the District Courts, and the official opinions of the Regional Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Such public records and official opinions shall be made available in computer data bases that may be accessed electronically by all lawyers, the media, and others as specified by legislation, at no more than a nominal charge.

(3) The State Depository in the capital shall contain the case files of all prosecutions since 1920, and such other case files as shall assist persons in determining their legal rights.

3. No person, individually or by a representative, shall be denied access to a State Depository during ordinary working hours, nor shall the right to copy files and other materials for a subsidized fee be denied. Statutory restrictions to protect the legitimate privacy interests of living persons, or of deceased persons upon the application of their next of kin, shall be provided, but they shall be narrowly construed in favor of the fullest possible public access to historical information, and no person may be denied access to his or her own file on grounds of protecting that person's privacy.

Article 21.

1. Every person convicted of a crime shall have the right to seek judicial review thereof, pursuant to reasonable restrictions based on legislation or Supreme Court rules.

2. Any conviction following adoption of this Constitution, which is based on substantial errors of fact, law, or procedure shall, upon timely appeal, be invalidated.

3. Any party in a civil case adjudicated following adoption of this Constitution may seek judicial review thereof. Any such adjudication based on substantial errors of fact, law, or procedure shall, upon timely appeal, be invalidated.

4. An appeal shall be timely if commenced within 30 days from the date when the judicial action complained of was taken or the judge's final order was issued.

5. Any party to a criminal or civil appeal shall be entitled, for a subsidized fee, to a complete copy of the official filings and proceedings in that case. This copy may, however, be in electronic or digital form, as the interests of justice and judicial administration require.

6. An appellate court, including the Supreme Court, which invalidates any part of any finding, conclusion, or order of a lower court, shall instruct that lower court so that it may take further action pursuant to law, as appropriate.

Article 22.

1. Every citizen who is 18 or older has the right to participate in the electoral process, whether as a voter or as a candidate for office, subject only to age and residency qualifications for public office prescribed by legislation or by this Constitution, provided, however, that following the adoption of this Constitution the Parliament may restrict political rights on the basis of conviction for a crime or adjudication of mental or psychological impairment according to due process of law.

2. No person may be deprived of any political right on the basis of mental or psychological impairment unless a District Court has ruled that such deprivation is pursuant to statutory authorization; such a ruling shall explicitly state the grounds for denial of political rights. Any person shall have the right to District Court reconsideration of any such determination after five years, or sooner in the interests of justice.

Article 23.

In the administration of judicial and electoral processes, no fee may be imposed that effectively prevents participation by a person unable to afford that fee.

Article 24.

1. No restriction of rights guaranteed under this Constitution shall be applied for any purposes other than those for which the restriction is prescribed, and is reasonable. No rights, privileges, or immunities secured by this Constitution may be denied or abridged, whether directly or indirectly, through the withholding of any other right, privilege, or immunity, unless by due process of law.

2. The people of Jurlandia here acknowledge that no rights are absolute, and that rights sometimes conflict with each other and must be balanced in the interests of justice. The people herein entrust their Judicial Branch with the special responsibility to find the proper balance in all cases, and to treat similar circumstances in a similar way, consistent with the need to let the law and human civilization evolve coherently.

Article 25.

1. The enumeration in this Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people of Jurlandia.

2. The people here proclaim that all humans are born with certain inalienable rights — including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; these rights are not created by governments; rather, governments are created by people to secure these rights.

3. The Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches established by this Constitution have been created by the people of Jurlandia as organs of limited power; this power has been delegated to them by the people; all other power is retained by the people.


See single-document versions of the Constitution of Jurlandia in English and Russian

English copyrights © 1991-1999 by Barnabas D. Johnson

Russian version copyrights © 1991-1999 by Lowry Wyman

Armenian copyright © 2001 by Barnabas D. Johnson

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