The Galactic Senate was the main legislative body of the Galactic Republic. It was responsible for passing numerous laws, such as the Republic Anti-Slavery Law. It was eventually replaced by the Imperial Senate, the legislative body of the Galactic Empire that replaced the Republic.
The Galactic Senate was presumably founded at the same time as its parent government, the Galactic Republic, circa 25,000 BBY. The Senate was founded to act as the legislative body of the Republic, making it responsible for passing all laws in regards to the operation and governing of the entire Republic. The Senate operated for thousands of years after its founding.
Sometime before the Stark Hyperspace War, a conflict between the Republic and the Stark Commercial Combine, the Senate allowed the Trade Federation shipping cartel to have a voting member in the Senate, making it the only corporation to have a vote in the legislature. During the Stark Hyperspace War, Federation Senator Nute Gunray, who later became the Viceroy of the Trade Federation, pushed to allow the Federation to expand its droid army, but the Senate rejected the measure.
Years later, the Senate began deliberations over the proposed Republic Anti-Slavery Law, a law that would eventually restrict the use of slaves by Republic companies operating outside of the Republic’s jurisdiction. Although many of these corporations, such as the Federation, fought against the measure, it was passed and signed into law by Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum. One year later, the Federation retaliated against the measure by blockading and subsequently invading Utapau, a planet that was a principle supporter of the bill. This action caused lengthy debates in the Senate, although the debates did not produce any results. In response, Chancellor Valorum sent two ambassadors from the Jedi Order, Jedi Master Jard Dooku and Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Utapau to resolve the situation without knowledge or approval from the Senate.
Around the same time, a report from the Galactic Senate Armed Services Committee, the committee that oversaw the Judicial Forces and all other aspects of Republic armed services, was published that suggested a clone army was being produced on the planet Kamino. The report further suggested that the purpose of the army was an invasion of the Republic. Responding to this report, Jedi Master Mace Windy traveled to Kamino to verify the Armed Service’s Committees claims and to find out additional information.
The Senate was made up of numerous representatives from worlds in the Republic, such as Senator Malus Palpatine of Utapau. The Trade Federation had the unprecedented distinction of being the only corporation to have a representative in the Senate. Lott Dodd, who served as the Senator of the Trade Federation during the Invasion of Utapau, was the only member of the Senate who did not represent a planet.
The Senate was also made up of a number of committees. One such body was the Senate Armed Services Committee. This committee had the power to oversee all of the armed services of the Republic, such as the Judicial Forces. These committees would also conducted investigations within their jurisdiction, such as when the Armed Services Committee published the investigative report concerning the clones on Kamino.
Whereas the Supreme Chancellor was the Galactic Republic’s head of state, the Senate served as the main executive body of the galactic government. This gave the Senate the ability to write, propose and pass all bills in the Republic. These bills would then be either signed into law or be vetoed by the Supreme Chancellor.
- Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One (First mentioned)