Are the Empire's actions legal?

Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:32 am

I'm not that knowledgable about the Star Wars universe beyond the movies, but I always did wonder about this issue. It stems from something that occurred to me whilst watching Return of the Jedi, namely : What would have happened had Annakin Skywalker lived?

After all, Luke did get his body off the station. So if the force lightning damage had just been that much less severe, then he could have made it. The film shows us Annakin as redeemed at the end - least, that's what I take from seeing his force ghost with Yoda and Obi Wan. But had he lived, surely it wouldn't fly for Luke to tell everyone "It's okay, he may have been responsible for the death of countless people, but he's good now!"

So, would Annakin be put on trial for the things he did? But then that set me to wondering, are the things he did actually illegal? Just what legal basis does the Empire operate on, anyway?

When the Stormtroopers patrol through my neighbourhood and one of them blasts my mom because she looked at him funny, does he actually have the legal authority to do that? Or is it merely that nobody tries to enforce the laws because, well, the Stormtroopers have the big guns? When Tarkin ordered Alderran destroyed pretty much on a whim, was he breaking the law or was he entitled to do that?

Seems to me this issue would play out bigtime once the Empire fell. Would a reconstituted government be able to put Annakin - and by extension all the other Imperials - on trial for what they did? Or could he actually argue "Nope, the law says I had a right to torture and kill people"?

Is this something the EU got into at all?
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Deepcrush » Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:31 am

Simple answer would be "yes" that the Empire's actions were legal, it was the Emperor in ANH who broke the law. Remember that up to ANH, the Senate continued to over see much of what went on and even kept the Emperor in check. It wasn't until the Emperor dissolved the Senate that the Rebellion gained any real strength. Up to that point, the Rebellion was as much a terrorist movement as it was anything else.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Captain Seafort » Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:56 am

Deepcrush wrote:Simple answer would be "yes" that the Empire's actions were legal, it was the Emperor in ANH who broke the law. Remember that up to ANH, the Senate continued to over see much of what went on and even kept the Emperor in check. It wasn't until the Emperor dissolved the Senate that the Rebellion gained any real strength. Up to that point, the Rebellion was as much a terrorist movement as it was anything else.


Even dissolving the Senate was probably legal - Palpatine didn't dissolve it permanently, but for "the duration of the emergency", so there was probably a clause in Imperial law that permitted him to do so. It was a mistake, especially with hindsight as the combination of removing the last semblance of democracy and the defeat at Yavin was the spark that lit the fuse, but I very much doubt it was illegal. Palpatine was always a political manipulator, not a gambler, so it would be out of character for him to do something so reckless as to dissolve the Senate with legal authority.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Deepcrush » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:08 pm

I don't recall anyone saying the "Duration of the Emergency", but even so it is possible if only lightly so that it was still a legal action.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Atekimogus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:39 am

GrahamKennedy wrote:When the Stormtroopers patrol through my neighbourhood and one of them blasts my mom because she looked at him funny, does he actually have the legal authority to do that?



The more pressing question would be:"Does he have the necessary marksman-skill to do that?" :roll:



But to answer your question (and only talking about the original movies) imho the only "BAD" thing the Empire (not talking individuals here) did was blowing up Alderaan. But everything else is really just being a nation like everybody else.

Let's view their actions for a minute. In the first movie they begin chasing after a top secret document in the hands of terrorists and board a ship which presents a high level security threat to one of their military installations. Now what government would let that slip?

They search the planet and unfortunatly blast a small homestead which is tragic for young Skywalker but since a civil war is going on and those people are supposed to either harbor terrorists or super secret death star plans, again nothing real life "good" nations would weep to much over.

So really, apart from blasting one planet (which could be attributed to one of their commanders going mad)........what does the Empire ever DO to deserve such hatred? They have no labour camps, no other genocide we know of (except those vigilante Jedi and good ridance imho, more trouble than they are worth it) they didn't start killing cloud city people off, all they are guilty of seems to be having a rather harsh military discipline.

So yes, I think the empire was mostly only committing legal actions and those damn rebels were named rebels for a reason. (But then I might be unfairly biased towards the Empire, I think I actually played Tie Fighter long before I watched all three movies.........)
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Deepcrush » Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:37 pm

Don't feel bad, I prefer the Empire of the Rebels as well.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Teaos » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:23 pm

Illegal under their own laws? Probably not.

But as soon as that government gets over thrown the new government puts in new laws and retroactively charged them,
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Atekimogus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:11 pm

True but what does the Empire really do what is so abhorrent? I mean we are always TOLD how evil they are but do we actually see any of that? Now what do we know of what wrongs they committed in sequenze. (Again limiting myself to what we know of the original triology because nothing in the prequels makes much sense to me).

1. Whipping out the Jedi Order
2. Getting rid of the Senate
3. Destroy Alderaan.
4. Humanity-centric (supposedly)

As to 1, a good point could probably be made that those Jedis are just a bunch of enemies of the state and vigilantes. Like superheroes in comics they assume authority just because they say so without sanction from the state which alone would be reason enough to view them as regime-enemies.

As to 2, a good old fashined power play transforming a republic into a monarchy. Reminds me more of Octavian Augustus than....Hitler for example. Also the fact that at this point they already call the Emperor "Emperor" seems to indicate that he is viewed as legitimate sovereign at this point. Nothing to shocking and nothing the romans didn't do two thousand years ago.

As to 3, probably the only indefensible point. Destroying a whole planet seems over the top even if the whole planet would be crawling with rebels. But then again it would have been interesting what would have happened to Tarkin if he had survived....

As to 4, we are told the empire is so oppressive and that aliens are basically second class citizens and "gasp" that some are even used as slaves. I am not shocked. There are no death camps and while aliens might be second class citizens they are not systematically murdered, heck some of them even have flourishing head-hunter businesses and even Empire officials - who should be the most hardcore - have no qualms of hiring them. In short, aliens in the Palpatine Empire seem to be better of than, let's say, a black person in 1950 USA.


So except point 3 I have to say that the Palpatine Empire isn't even close to an evil empire except the main heroes always telling us that they are or did I miss something?
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Deepcrush » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:39 pm

Teaos wrote:Illegal under their own laws? Probably not.

But as soon as that government gets over thrown the new government puts in new laws and retroactively charged them,


Remember that the whole Empire wasn't over thrown. The Imperial Remnant not only survived (clearly) but in fact remained impressively strong and later rebuilt well enough to reclaim the Galaxy as the New Republic fell apart. So I doubt that any charges could be leveled on anyone without risking the peace. To be fair, the NR was in no shape to try and enforce its will on the Empire since they could barely hold themselves together as it was.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Captain Seafort » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:36 pm

Atekimogus wrote:As to 1, a good point could probably be made that those Jedis are just a bunch of enemies of the state and vigilantes. Like superheroes in comics they assume authority just because they say so without sanction from the state which alone would be reason enough to view them as regime-enemies.


On the contrary - TMP clear depicts the Jedi as operating as special envoys of the Chancellor, and by RotS they were serving as officers in the Republic's military, again under the authority of the Chancellor in his capacity as C-in-C of said military. Their opposition to the Empire originated in their attempt to arrest said Chancellor for treason (i.e. passing military useful information to the CIS).

As to 2, a good old fashined power play transforming a republic into a monarchy. Reminds me more of Octavian Augustus than....Hitler for example. Also the fact that at this point they already call the Emperor "Emperor" seems to indicate that he is viewed as legitimate sovereign at this point. Nothing to shocking and nothing the romans didn't do two thousand years ago.


Agreed, as it was the Senate itself that elected Palpatine Emperor.

As to 3, probably the only indefensible point. Destroying a whole planet seems over the top even if the whole planet would be crawling with rebels. But then again it would have been interesting what would have happened to Tarkin if he had survived....


Not much, I expect, and in describing the destruction of Alderaan as the only indefensible point you're forgetting the Empire's widespread use of torture and summary execution.

In short, aliens in the Palpatine Empire seem to be better of than, let's say, a black person in 1950 USA.


You could probably say much the same about Jews in mid-30s Germany.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Captain Seafort » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:39 pm

Deepcrush wrote:Remember that the whole Empire wasn't over thrown.


Yes it was - the Empire collapsed shortly after Palaptine's final death on Onderon, with the death of Xandel Carivus. The Imperial Remnant grew out of the alliance of warlord states Daala put together following the failure of her own campaign against the New Republic, and had no direct link whatsoever to the original Galactic Republic/Empire.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Atekimogus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:15 pm

Captain Seafort wrote:On the contrary - TMP clear depicts the Jedi as operating as special envoys of the Chancellor, and by RotS they were serving as officers in the Republic's military, again under the authority of the Chancellor in his capacity as C-in-C of said military. Their opposition to the Empire originated in their attempt to arrest said Chancellor for treason (i.e. passing military useful information to the CIS).


Maybe that's true but they don't seem to follow a specific chain of command. It's like medival monks being put in charge of a kings armies just because they are monks. No matter, I always found that their self assumed role of "Protectors of the Republic" is extremely fishy. What if the very same republic doesn't want them as protectors anymore? Are we to assume that they would yield their power and just withdraw to meditate and study the force or whatever?

But be that as it may, the point could be made that the prequels are irrelevant to the discussion since the prequels predate the "Empire". Sure, Palpatine played the various faction to gain power but again, apart from being "EVIL BECAUSE OF THE DARK SIDE blah" he actually doesn't do anything especially abhorrent. (He is not the first who starts a war to gain power and if history views him as a great man or not probably depends more on him being victorious or not, just as in the real world).


Captain Seafort wrote:Not much, I expect, and in describing the destruction of Alderaan as the only indefensible point you're forgetting the Empire's widespread use of torture and summary execution.


Well it seems that Alderaan was a major PR disaster for the Empire and I imagine if the deathstar and Tarkin would have survived, the Emperor would have had his head no matter if he secretly agree with Tarkin or not. Taking responsibility for that wouldn't serve him in any way except making him more unpopular (assuming he is unpopular in the first place).

As for the widespread use of torture and summary execution.....we don't actually see that at all. All we see is one maniac - Vader - commiting or ordering all those things while it seems that the normal military and navy seems to work just normal.

So what VAder does in the movies is removing some officers for gross incompetence in times of war (which he might have the legal authority to do, I must admit I am a bit in the dark as to his exact position in the empire except being Palpatines right hand man enforcer) and water-boarding a known criminal, smuggler and terrorist who was personally responsible for blowing up the death star. Nothing the CIA wouldn't do imho, for example.

Captain Seafort wrote:You could probably say much the same about Jews in mid-30s Germany.


Well no, since they started killing them off, whereas the Empire seemed to be tolerant enough of their aliens for more then 20 years or so. (No idea how old Luke was in the first movie to be honest).

Also, if one dismisses the EU all we have is conjecture that the Empire is actually xenophobic. All we know is that we don't see any alien naval people and that one naval officier seems to regard some low live head-hunters as, well low live head hunters.


Now I am not saying all is swell in the Empire.......but as far as regimes go, they are actually far from the worst that there have ever been.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Deepcrush » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:22 pm

Captain Seafort wrote:
Deepcrush wrote:Remember that the whole Empire wasn't over thrown.


Yes it was - the Empire collapsed shortly after Palaptine's final death on Onderon, with the death of Xandel Carivus. The Imperial Remnant grew out of the alliance of warlord states Daala put together following the failure of her own campaign against the New Republic, and had no direct link whatsoever to the original Galactic Republic/Empire.


Reformation isn't the same as being overthrown. The Empire's power base collapsed but the Empire as a political structure survived, preserved by the treaty that Pelleaon over saw into placement.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Deepcrush » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:29 pm

Atekimogus wrote:Now I am not saying all is swell in the Empire.......but as far as regimes go, they are actually far from the worst that there have ever been.


This right here is what sums up the Empire as a whole. Even more so that the Empire survived the loss of Emperor Palp and later even reformed under the Fel line. Considering the amount of power they continued to hold and that many of the outer rim systems stayed with the Empire rather then join onto the NR shows that even many non-humans must have preferred the Empire to their worries of the OR.
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Re: Are the Empire's actions legal?

Postby Captain Seafort » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:05 pm

Deepcrush wrote:Reformation isn't the same as being overthrown.


Agreed, but that isn't what happened.

The Empire's power base collapsed but the Empire as a political structure survived


No it didn't - the Empire, as a cohesive political entity with a continuous (albeit evolving) political structure, collapsed utterly. Pellaeon's Remnant had many similarities, and followed many of the same political principles, but it wasn't the same entity. It was formed out of Daala's warlord alliance, and had nothing to do with what was left of the political structure of the old Empire.
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