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Can the chair object to a motion made by unanimous consent?

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Suppose a member rises, is recognized, and makes an appropriate motion by unanimous consent. For example, the member might say “I move to strike from line 32 of the resolution the word ‘blue’ and insert ‘red’ by unanimous consent.” If no member objects, can the chair (if he is a member) object to the motion?

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The presiding officer usually only casts their vote when it would make a difference in the outcome. In this case, it would.

If it is a smaller board (smaller than about 12), then the presiding officer does not have this restriction and is free to vote.

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48 minutes ago, mjhmjh said:

Suppose a member rises, is recognized, and makes an appropriate motion by unanimous consent. For example, the member might say “I move to strike from line 32 of the resolution the word ‘blue’ and insert ‘red’ by unanimous consent.” If no member objects, can the chair (if he is a member) object to the motion?

Yes, the chairman has a right to object.

When unanimous consent is objected to, however, this does not kill the motion. Instead, the motion is then processed normally. The chairman should relinquish the chair until the pending main question is disposed of, since he has undermined his appearance of impartiality.

“If any member objects, the chair must state the question on the motion, allow any desired debate (unless it is an "undebatable" parliamentary motion—see 6 and tinted pp. 42–43), and put the question in the regular manner.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 54)

Edited by Josh Martin

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This appears to be a way to get a motion before the assembly without a second.  If a unanimous consent request is objected to the chair states the question on the motion without waiting for or soliciting a second.  Am I missing something?

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Well, if every other person other than the mover objects, then the Chair should seek a second. Otherwise, I think it's entirely reasonable to assume that at least one of those who did not object wants the motion adopted and would, presumably, also want it considered.

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8 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

This appears to be a way to get a motion before the assembly without a second.  If a unanimous consent request is objected to the chair states the question on the motion without waiting for or soliciting a second.  Am I missing something?

If a member makes a request for unanimous consent in good faith, and therefore believes that all members of the assembly either support the motion or at least are not so strongly opposed to it that they will object, I would suggest that even though one member has objected, it will generally still be “clear that more than one member wishes to take up the motion,” unless the member is very misguided about the assembly’s feelings on the matter. Nonetheless, the chair could still require a second if he believes it is appropriate to do so, and a member still has the right to object to the lack of a second before debate has begun (or before any member has voted, if there is no debate).

”In handling routine motions, less attention is paid to the requirement of a second. If the chair is certain that a motion meets with wide approval but members are slow in seconding it, he can state the question without waiting for a second. However, until debate has begun in such a case—or, if there is no debate, until the chair begins to take the vote and any member has voted—a point of order (see 23) can be raised that the motion has not been seconded; and then the chair must proceed formally and ask if there is a second. Such a point of order should not be made only for the sake of form, if it is clear that more than one member wishes to take up the motion. After debate has begun or, if there is no debate, after any member has voted, the lack of a second has become immaterial and it is too late to make a point of order that the motion has not been seconded. If a motion is considered and adopted without having been seconded—even in a case where there was no reason for the chair to overlook this requirement—the absence of a second does not affect the validity of the motion's adoption.” (RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 36-37)

Edited by Josh Martin

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14 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

When unanimous consent is objected to, however, this does not kill the motion. Instead, the motion is then processed normally. The chairman should relinquish the chair until the pending main question is disposed of, since he has undermined his appearance of impartiality.

Has he, though? The chair, like any member, could simply object to doing it by unanimous consent. 

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14 hours ago, mjhmjh said:

Suppose a member rises, is recognized, and makes an appropriate motion by unanimous consent. For example, the member might say “I move to strike from line 32 of the resolution the word ‘blue’ and insert ‘red’ by unanimous consent.” If no member objects, can the chair (if he is a member) object to the motion?

This is not at all a proper way to seek unanimous consent. A member may ask that something be agreed to by unanimous consent, but he should not move that it be agreed to by unanimous consent because such a motion would then need to be seconded and voted on.

 

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5 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

Has he, though? The chair, like any member, could simply object to doing it by unanimous consent. 

By objecting to unanimous consent, I contend that he has indicated his opposition to its adoption,  There is no rational explanation for being in favor of a question, yet opposed to its adoption.

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6 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

If a member makes a request for unanimous consent in good faith, and therefore believes that all members of the assembly either support the motion or at least are not so strongly opposed to it that they will object, I would suggest that even though one member has objected, it will generally still be “clear that more than one member wishes to take up the motion,” unless the member is very misguided about the assembly’s feelings on the matter.`

Thanks for the detail.

I was considering rather, the case where the member makes the request in bad faith, counting on the fact that someone will object. 

When a unanimous consent request is made, a single objection halts the process. The chair would have no way of knowing whether two, three, or all other members also object.

Admittedly this is a bit of a strange parliamentary bird, but if the chair is free to require a second, I'm happy.

Edited by Gary Novosielski

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57 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

There is no rational explanation for being in favor of a question, yet opposed to its adoption.

You didn't finish the sentence. Someone can be in favour of a question, yet opposed to its adoption by unanimous consent.

It's not necessarily about the what (adoption) but rather the how (process). 

They may feel that some debate is warranted. They may know that there are some who disagree with the motion but are going to acquiesce to its adoption and they may wish that those people have a chance to speak.

Edited by Atul Kapur

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18 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

You didn't finish the sentence. Someone can be in favour of a question, yet opposed to its adoption by unanimous consent.

It's not necessarily about the what (adoption) but rather the how (process). 

They may feel that some debate is warranted. They may know that there are some who disagree with the motion but are going to acquiesce to its adoption and they may wish that those people have a chance to speak.

One is either opposed or in favor.  If you're opposed and choose not to acquiesce, then object.  Otherwise, don't.  Preoccupation with process at this fine granularity borders on the dilatory, in my view.

Our hypothetical member, Mr. H, would be presumptuous to believe that "these people" are incapable of objecting for themselves, should they feel the need of a chance to speak, or that he knows what they need better than they do. or that if he objected for them, they would not acquiesce after all, but rather engage in debate.  They might well wonder why he objected, then had nothing to say in debate.

It seems to me that Mr. H. is overthinking it.  Or perhaps it's really his own voice he's interested in hearing. 🙄

Edited by Gary Novosielski

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1 hour ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Preoccupation with process at this fine granularity borders on the dilatory, in my view.

Our hypothetical member, Mr. H, 

I was not talking about a hypothetical member - the OP asked about the chair. It is the duty of the chair to protect and balance the rights of the minority along with the rights of the majority (and others). As the chair, I would rule that this was not dilatory :D

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1 hour ago, Atul Kapur said:

I was not talking about a hypothetical member - the OP asked about the chair. It is the duty of the chair to protect and balance the rights of the minority along with the rights of the majority (and others). As the chair, I would rule that this was not dilatory :D

And I would agree. 

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1 hour ago, Richard Brown said:

And I would agree. 

Well, if it came down to it, so would I.  Bordering on dilatory isn't the same as crossing the line. 

Besides, I can't read his mind to see that he's in favor, but objecting just to play with the process. Someone says "Objection", I say "Objection is heard."  But if I knew, somehow, that he really favored the request, I'd reserve the right to roll my eyes. 

Inconspicuously, to preserve the appearance of impartiality. 😎

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On 11/10/2019 at 11:02 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

This is not at all a proper way to seek unanimous consent. A member may ask that something be agreed to by unanimous consent, but he should not move that it be agreed to by unanimous consent because such a motion would then need to be seconded and voted on.

 

Would it be proper for the member to say "“I ask for unanimous consent to strike from line 32 of the resolution the word ‘blue’ and insert ‘red’”?

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1 hour ago, mjhmjh said:

Would it be proper for the member to say "“I ask for unanimous consent to strike from line 32 of the resolution the word ‘blue’ and insert ‘red’”?

Yes, I suppose it is conceivable that there might be circumstances under which this would be appropriate, but it would be highly unusual.

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