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Motion to Censure

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Guest DptyClerk

Basic questions about making a motion to censure:

The chair wishes to make a motion to censure the actions of 3 out of 7 members who acted together as a minority, without the knowledge or approval of the body as a whole. (The assembly I refer to has bylaws that state its members only act as a body) The bylaws have no prescribed means for discipline except that of removal of office, which in this case, is not the intended outcome.

Can the chair make ONE motion which censures the actions of all 3? (they acted as a group outside of the whole and would be censured for the same action)

When is the appropriate time for the chair to make such a motion?

The situation has just come to light and the assembly meets this afternoon, any information in a prompt response will be greatly appreciated!

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Guest Elected Official

I would like to add on to this and ask if the motion is made without prior notice to the members being censured and also to the board would there be a required number of votes for the motion to be adopted. In short the motion was presented without prior notice. In the case I am asking about two members were censured for actions without prior notice. The vote was taken and 4 members voted to censure, 3 members abstained and the two censured members votes were not allowed. The total membership of 9 were present.

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I would like to add on to this and ask if the motion is made without prior notice to the members being censured and also to the board would there be a required number of votes for the motion to be adopted. In short the motion was presented without prior notice. In the case I am asking about two members were censured for actions without prior notice. The vote was taken and 4 members voted to censure, 3 members abstained and the two censured members votes were not allowed. The total membership of 9 were present.

The members (plural) being censured may vote (see p. 407, ll. 21-31).

No notice is necessary.

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I would like to add on to this and ask if the motion is made without prior notice to the members being censured and also to the board would there be a required number of votes for the motion to be adopted. In short the motion was presented without prior notice. In the case I am asking about two members were censured for actions without prior notice. The vote was taken and 4 members voted to censure, 3 members abstained and the two censured members votes were not allowed. The total membership of 9 were present.

The abstentions don't count, so the vote was 4-0, and the motion was adopted. It was improper to deny the two named members their right to vote on the motion, and a point of order to that effect can be raised at any time (RONR 11th ed. p. 252 ll. 20-24). However, this would not change the outcome of the vote, since even if one assume that the two members would have voted against the motion, the vote count would then have been 4-2 (still a majority in favor) so the motion stands (RONR p. 252 ll. 24-30).

Again, the abstentions don't count -- majority vote means the majority (more than half) of those present and voting. In other words, there is no way to construe this as a potential 4-5 vote (adding the abstentions to the assumed 'no' votes of the people who were the targets of the motion to censure).

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2) When no other motion is pending.

The motion to censure would be a question of privilege and would be in order when another motion is pending.

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Basic questions about making a motion to censure:

The chair wishes to make a motion to censure the actions of 3 out of 7 members who acted together as a minority, without the knowledge or approval of the body as a whole. (The assembly I refer to has bylaws that state its members only act as a body) The bylaws have no prescribed means for discipline except that of removal of office, which in this case, is not the intended outcome.

Can the chair make ONE motion which censures the actions of all 3? (they acted as a group outside of the whole and would be censured for the same action)

When is the appropriate time for the chair to make such a motion?

The situation has just come to light and the assembly meets this afternoon, any information in a prompt response will be greatly appreciated!

In small boards and committees, the chair is allowed to make motions, but under the formal rules he would have to relinquish the chair to do so. A better alternative in such a case would be for another member to make the motion or for the chair to include the text of the motion as a recommendation in his report (such as the President's Report, if he is the president), and the adoption of the recommended motion should be moved by another member.

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A detail that may have been overlooked... (except that Tim W. just caught it too)

The chair should NOT be making the motion himself, unless he steps down from presiding (and the vice president then does the presiding for that one issue). This is to keep up at least the facade of impartiality while the chair is presiding.

He should (ahead of time) find one of the other members to actually make the censure motion.

But if this is all water over the dam and the vote has taken place, it still stands.

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The motion to censure would be a question of privilege and would be in order when another motion is pending.

Not necessarily (see p. 137, ll. 20-31, foe example). Depending on the situation, it may not be of such urgency to interrupt a pending question (p. 266, #3).

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A detail that may have been overlooked... (except that Tim W. just caught it too)

The chair should NOT be making the motion himself, unless he steps down from presiding (and the vice president then does the presiding for that one issue). This is to keep up at least the facade of impartiality while the chair is presiding.

He should (ahead of time) find one of the other members to actually make the censure motion.

But if this is all water over the dam and the vote has taken place, it still stands.

It is a seven member assembly, so why would the chair be precluded?

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The motion to censure would be a question of privilege and would be in order when another motion is pending.

Is there an RONR reference for this?

On p. 125, l.15-16 it says that "a motion to ratify can be amended by substituting a motion of censure...", which appears to refer back to p. 124, ll. 24-25, stating that " the motion to ratify (...) is an incidental main motion...".

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Reference in RONR? I think the answer to this is that almost anything can be a "question of privilege", as defined on p. 224.

But whether the "q of p" actually comes to a discussion and vote depends on the ruling of the chair, subject to appeal, pp. 225 & 227 (#7).

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P. 227, first four words of line 21.

... and also p. 643, ll. 12-13, if the fact that censure is a form of punishment remains in question.

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... and also p. 643, ll. 12-13, if the fact that censure is a form of punishment remains in question.

This, however, is not form of punishment. See p. 643, fn.

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Guest Learning

The motion to censure would be a question of privilege and would be in order when another motion is pending.

What if it's not given the right of way you feel it deserves? The chair is not obliged to give it priority, and if he doesn't, it's going to need to wait until nothing else is pending (assuming something else was pending in the first place). It's a not so interesting nit you decided to pick.

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If the chair has any sense he will do his best to stay out of an internal cat-fight, and "preclude" himself.

RONR does not mandate "sense." The chair may make this motion, without violating the rules. Whether he should is a political question.

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Thanks, John and Tim. I'm guessing that, even with its status as a question of privilege, the motion to censure in the situation described by the original poster, and probably in most other situations as well, would not be considered to be of sufficient urgency to have to interrupt pending business, as J.J. noted in post # 10.

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This, however, is not form of punishment. See p. 643, fn.

The footnote does not change the fact that it's a form of punishment.

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The footnote does not change the fact that it's a form of punishment.

Yes it does, see pp. 125, ll. 15-19, and p. 137, ll. 20-29. The first citation is more applicable to this case.

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Thanks, John and Tim. I'm guessing that, even with its status as a question of privilege, the motion to censure in the situation described by the original poster, and probably in most other situations as well, would not be considered to be of sufficient urgency to have to interrupt pending business, as J.J. noted in post # 10.

It's the duty of the chair to rule on such a question, subject to the appeal of the assembly.

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What if it's not given the right of way you feel it deserves? The chair is not obliged to give it priority, and if he doesn't, it's going to need to wait until nothing else is pending (assuming something else was pending in the first place). It's a not so interesting nit you decided to pick.

I'm sorry my post failed to entertain you, but that was not its purpose.

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Yes it does, see pp. 125, ll. 15-19, and p. 137, ll. 20-29. The first citation is more applicable to this case.

The fact that the subsidiary motion to amend is in order when it proposes to change a ratification or commendation to a censure does not change the status of censure from a form of punishment.

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