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Charlie Arnold

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To me, this seems obvious, but to others, it is not! When providing an interpretation of a Bylaw shouldn't the interpretation be rendered based upon actual wording and punctuation rather than the "so called intent" of a bylaw? It would seem that "intent" opens a can of worms leaving it in people's judgment of what they remember an intent should be or open to bias. The problem specifically is that someone has been removed from office because of a statement about required training states the specific training must be provided by the specific state we are operating within. That could not be argued against because it specifically stated the state in the bylaw. Then in another move to remove several people from office, there is a statement of qualification that does not have the state stated specifically only the type of training. The issue here is a ruling was made because of a specific word being present without any relief for an equivalent. Now the same individuals are trying to say another qualification without the state specifically being listed still applies because of the intent of the wording. To me, this is two faced and wrong. I have always interpreted a bylaw based upon the current wording, not the intention. This keeps all emotion out of the ruling. Is this a correct way to look at making an interpretation of a bylaw, by the actual wording that is, not by intent of the wording?

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"Each society decides for itself the meaning of its bylaws. When the meaning is clear, however, the society, even by a unanimous vote, cannot change that meaning except by amending its bylaws. An ambiguity must exist before there is any occasion for interpretation. If a bylaw is ambiguous, it must be interpreted, if possible, in harmony with the other bylaws. The interpretation should be in accordance with the intention of the society at the time the bylaw was adopted, as far as this can be determined. Again, intent plays no role unless the meaning is unclear or uncertain, but where an ambiguity exists, a majority vote is all that is required to decide the question. The ambiguous or doubtful expression should be amended as soon as practicable."  (RONR, 11th ed., pp. 588-89, underlining supplied for emphasis.)

Edited by Daniel H. Honemann
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