Senators, also referred to as Galactic Senators, were individuals who represented the many planets of the galaxy in the Senate of the Galactic Republic. Many senators supported and cheered Sheev Palpatine's proclamation that turned the Republic into the Galactic Empire at the end of the Clone Wars. The senators then became members of the Imperial Senate.
Fourteen years into Imperial Senate's existence, the power of the senators had grown weaker as the Emperor's planetary governors and Moffs exercised more responsibility over their planets and systems. A few years later, the Imperial Senate was disbanded by the Emperor.
Shortly after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance achieved their goal and restored the Republic in the form of the New Republic. As one of its first acts in the long process of bringing back democracy to the galaxy, the Republic restored the Galactic Senate.
During the last decades of the Galactic Republic, senators represented the Republic's various member worlds and commerce guilds including the Trade Federation at the Galactic Senate on Coruscant. During the Invasion of Naboo, Sheev Palpatine served as Naboo's senator in the Galactic Senate while Lott Dod represented the Trade Federation. Their functions including representing their homeworlds, adjudicating on galactic disputes, and debating and voting on legislation and motions. By the time of the Separatist Crisis, the Senate had at least two thousand senators. Several Loyalist senators, including the Naboo senator Padmé Amidala, the Alderaanian senator Bail Organa, and the Ryloth senator Orn Free Taa formed the Loyalist Committee to advise Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
During the Clone Wars, the Confederacy of Independent Systems established a rival Separatist Senate on the planet Raxus. Some prominent Separatist senators including the Onderonian Mina Bonteri and her son Lux Bonteri, Prime Minister Bec Lawise, and Voe Atell. Towards the end of the conflict, several concerned senators including Amidala, Organa, and Mon Mothma formed the Delegation of 2,000 to criticize Palpatine's conduct of the war and to petition him to return his emergency powers to the Galactic Senate.
- "The Emperor has disbanded the Senate. You are no longer a senator. What defense will you use now, I wonder?"
- ―Darth Vader to Leia Organa
Following the Proclamation of the New Order, the Galactic Senate was revamped as the Imperial Senate of the Galactic Empire. While many senators welcomed the establishment of the Empire as an end to the carnage and destruction of the Clone Wars, others like Amidala and Organa were unhappy with the New Order. After Palpatine crowned himself as Emperor, the Imperial Senate's powers were progressively curtailed. By the fourteenth year of the Age of the Empire, Imperial senators wielded less power than planetary governors.
The Emperor preserved the Senate in order to convince its member worlds that they still had a part to play in the new government. In secret, the Emperor planned to abolish the Senate once the Death Star had been completed so that he could rule the Empire through terror. Some senators like the Thrad senator Nadea Tural continued attending Senate sessions since she believed that the Empire passed legislation which had been voted into law. However, the Emperor often did not implement legislation introduced by the Senate. Some other notable senators included Bail Organa's adopted daughter Leia Organa, and the "Senator-in-exile" Gall Trayvis.
Following the theft of the Death Star plans, Darth Vader arrested Princess Leia for aiding the Rebel Alliance. Emperor Palpatine promptly dissolved the Imperial Senate. In addition, Tural and several other dissident senators were imprisoned at the Arrth-Eno Prison Complex on Coruscant. The Alliance attempted to rescue the imprisoned senators but the Emperor hatched a successful plot to kill the senators and the Rebel spies. Official Imperial propaganda claimed that the rebels had bombed the prison in order to deny these senators a trial.
Following the Battle of Endor, the New Republic, the successor government established by the Alliance to Restore the Republic, re-established the Galactic Senate on Chandrila. Their duties included representing their homeworlds, debating and voting on legislation and motions, and investigating intrasystem disputes and criminal factions that threatened the New Republic. New Republic senatorial protocol also differentiated senators into two main categories: senior senator and junior senator.
About twenty years after the events on Endor, two major senatorial factions had emerged in the Galactic Senate: the Centrists, who desired a stronger galactic government and military; and the Populists, who wanted to preserve considerable autonomy for member worlds. The rivalry and philosophical differences between the two factions created deadlock in the Senate, which led to much inaction on the part of the New Republic. In response to this deadlock, the Centrists proposed the creation of a new office called First Senator, which would wield considerable power over the economy and military. Some prominent New Republic senators included Leia Organa, the Gatalenta senator Tai-Lin Garr, the Arkanis senator Lady Carise Sindian, and the Riosan senator Ransolm Casterfo. Prior to the destruction of the Hosnian system, several New Republic senators including Lady Carise and Erudo Ro-Kiintor were secretly colluding with the First Order, a remnant of the Old Empire.