1

Inspired by this question and answers to it.

While I'm reasonably sure the answer is "No", I wonder if there is some interesting exception to the general immunity of legislative bodies. While a generic "misconduct in public office" or analogues can be, in some countries, applied to members of the legislative, I want a more specific law.

What I'm looking for is a law with following properties:

  1. It specifically concerns legislature's members.
  2. It sets specific bounds on what laws can be introduced to the legislature.
  3. There is a punishment for whoever introduces an illegal law and/or votes for it.

Bonus if someone was actually prosecuted for this.

Non-democratic examples and historical examples are fine.

  • How can there be a punishment for introducing an illegal law? I don't understand the question. Let's take an (extreme) example: Let us presume Child Pornography is legal. Let us presume a <senator or whomever> presents a bill to make it illegal. That senator should be arrested for attempting to pass an "illegal law"(?) – CGCampbell Sep 25 '19 at 18:31
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    no no what alice is asking is.. what if a legislative body passes a civility law that says, "when a person greets another person, the person being greeted must respond with a greeting." And then execution of the law goes into a loop. A greets B, and B must greet A.. and A must then greet B.. etc. It is clearly a bad law.. can the act of making a bad law be criminalized... i believe that's the question. – dolphin_of_france Sep 25 '19 at 18:42
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    @CGCampbell: it could be an unconstitutional law for example. Constitutions are (usually) more difficult to amend than to pass/propose regular legislation. – Fizz Sep 25 '19 at 18:43
  • @CGCampbell For example, I suppose. If there is a clause in a constitution (or an amendment) that guarantees rights of every citizens to Child Pornography, and someone tries to make it illegal, in certain regimes he will get arrested and labelled "enemy of the state", but without a formal law. Also, dolphin_of_france's greeting law example is another possibility. – Alice Sep 25 '19 at 19:06
  • Not strictly crime, but in Poland as part of quality indicators for effectiveness of budget spending, parliamentary legislative office was to be judged based on number of laws passed, that were later to be found unconstitutional. I'm not sure whether that's still in force. – Shadow1024 Sep 26 '19 at 10:09
4

Your criterion #2 is improbable to exist as such, but instead you can have prohibitions of certain speech in general. Then what can happen is that the proposer/parliamentarian would get charged for that offense, his immunity stripped by the legislature, and finally he could be prosecuted.

A hypothetical example: in a (deeply) Islamic country, a legislator proposes something that amounts to blasphemy in the eyes of the religious courts (which are also the legal courts). Then the scenario I outlined in the previous paragraph can be easily imagined.

  • That is another possibility I should look into, I suppose. Hate speech laws were my primary inspiration. In my country, there are different clauses for hate speech in general and hate speech by public servants (with latter having harsher punishments). Since laws that qualify as hate speech can have worse consequences than a simple hate tweet (normally), it's not an impossible leap to add a third clause regarding laws specifically. I agree, it's improbable, but there are thousands of legislatures around the world, maybe there is one like that. – Alice Sep 25 '19 at 19:16
2

"Calling for abolition of monarchy is still illegal, UK justice ministry admits" -- The Guardian, December 2013.

"A 165-year-old law that threatens anyone calling for the abolition of the monarchy with life imprisonment is technically still in force – after the Ministry of Justice admitted wrongly announcing that it had been repealed."

This is due to the Treason Felony Act 1848 which holds:

It is treason felony to "compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend":

  • to deprive the Queen of her crown,
  • to levy war against the Queen, or
  • to "move or stir" any foreigner to invade the United Kingdom or any other country belonging to the Queen.
  • And Ireland had blasphemy in their constitution (not just a law) till last year. They had to do a referendum to remove it bbc.com/news/world-europe-46010077 – Fizz Sep 25 '19 at 22:10
  • This seems quite close, but based on the quoted wording it seems that even imagining abolition of the monarchy would be treason. Taking it to an extreme, it seems that passing the Treason Felony Act of 1848 would itself have required imagining the crime for which it seems intended to prevent. – Burt_Harris Sep 25 '19 at 22:18
  • As with Ireland, that UK law is basically unenforceable as long as ECHR has ultimate jurisdiction in human rights matters. – Fizz Sep 25 '19 at 22:19
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    Actually, my comments to the question not withstanding, I think this is a good (perfect?) example of what the OP wants. According to the law of the UK, it would be illegal to pass a law to abolish the monarchy, without first repealing the act making it illegal. Of course the way it's written, repealing the Act itself would be against the Act, because the only reason to repeal it would be to be because you were then intending to introduce a law or Act to abolish the monarchy.... Very well done. – CGCampbell Sep 26 '19 at 13:01
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    @CGCampbell: I think courts could rule that parliamentary immunity takes precedence over that Treason Act. Of course, in an alternative (or historically remote) universe where the monarch has authoritarian powers, i.e. opposite would happen, i.e. the treason Act would take precedence. This is why I gave an example with Islamic countries... Few people would disagree that quite a few such countries do enforce blasphemy laws rather vigorously. – Fizz Sep 26 '19 at 13:38
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No that never happens. And I would argue will never happen

Think about what that means...

It means... the legislation branch of the government will have to enact a law criminalizing themselves for doing a bad job.

No body of people would ever do that to themselves.

  • But, say if one political party were to win a landslide election in a particular country. Has there never been a situation where they then tried to pass laws that would make it illegal for their political opponents to undo the laws they have passed in the future? – Time4Tea Sep 25 '19 at 18:30
  • @Time4Tea: well then it must be a one party rule right? otherwise, when another party wins in the next election, they can just pass a law to undo the previous law. doesn't even help in a one party rule situation.. because when they are overthrown, all their laws go out the window – dolphin_of_france Sep 25 '19 at 18:37
  • Why not? If I'm never planning to pass the Putting People of Certain Descent into Ovens Law, there is no downside to make even considering PPoCDiO Law into a crime. And it will certainly please people of certain descent and make them more likely to re-elect me, even if in practice it probably won't have any effect. – Alice Sep 25 '19 at 19:09
  • @Alice: as you probably know, no president or congress can bind the hands of a future president or congress. That's the constitution. but that's also a trivial acknowledgment of reality . how can you or I or anyone dictate the actions of future generations? (legislatively? of course we can do so by inventing bogus religious thesis.. ) – dolphin_of_france Sep 25 '19 at 19:15
  • @dolphin_of_france Maybe that's the case in the USA, but certainly not everywhere. For example, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act certainly put some limits on what the UK Parliament can do, even if they still have some workarounds. – Alice Sep 25 '19 at 19:21

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