Section 538

Title 6, §538 of Republic Revised Code reads:

In times of great crisis the government of the Republic may, at its discretion, empower agents to conduct investigations, question citizens, and detain suspects without regard to the restrictions of their nominal office, jurisdiction, or the laws of any municipality, province, planet, system or the Republic. Said agents are endowed with the right to conduct all actions and investigations with the complete, unconditional backing of the Republic government until such time as the Republic revokes that right, whereupon the Republic reserves the right to indict, try under Republic law, and sentence said agents on the acts committed under its aegis.

Section 538 is a controversial and hotly argued part of the Core Systems Free Republic's federal statutory law, commonly referred to in lawmakers' casual conversation as "The Statute That Wouldn't Die". It was conceived as the Extraordinary Circumstances Act, sans the clause allowing for prosecution of agents, during the early years of the Core Systems-Spartan War, at a point when there was concern over the possible infiltration of Spartan spies into Republic space. The full Presidium was convened to argue the case, and there was joking concern that the bill would cause the same kind of breakup that the Disposition of League Navy Assets Act of 2450 did to the League. In the end, though, the ECA did pass into law, but not before opponents of the bill managed to amend it to its current reading.

Despite repeated attempts to further neuter or repeal it, Section 538 remains a fully functioning part of the law of the nation, but to hear Republic government and Department of Justice officials tell it, Section 538 has never been exercised. This is in large part due to the vulnerability of its agents to prosecution following the completion of their task - in any case where Section 538 might be invoked, the potential crimes involved on the straightest path to an arrest have been too great in magnitude to sacrifice an agent.

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