Each Empress rules, but a council and the legal courts can run counter to the Empress. The position and title of Empress is inherited from parent to firstborn regardless of gender, but there have been cases where younger siblings became Empress instead, but those were usually the result of the the firstborn abdicating their claim to the throne.
The council members are elected representatives of their regions, and work to ensure their regions are being treated fairly, as well as considering new laws for the entire Empire. Council members propose laws to the Empress, who can approve or disapprove of the law, and debate laws proposed by the Empress.
The courts exist to oversee the laws and to ensure the laws are enforced. Each region has their own courts to oversee and enforce their laws, the Imperial Courts oversee and enforce the laws of the Empire. The Courts, however, can disapprove laws deemed to be against the Imperial Laws, regardless of who had proposed it.
"Who can tell me how the Empire began?" "Before the Empire, there were about seven kingdoms and many smaller ones who were warring against each other over the land and to rule all of what would become the Empire. And thencame from the North leading her fleet. From the northern kingdoms to the south, she conquered the land and united the kingdoms, forming the Empire." "A summary of our history, but you've done well, Taniss."