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Dave Rogers

Applying a Rule that takes way from a higher bylaw

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We have a national bylaw that states that any member in good standing may run for any office. 

At the district level each county takes turns to pick their person to run for the lower office at the district. The county decided some time ago that the last commander at the County Level will automatically be put forth for that seat. The current officers don't agree with that as they feel that it takes away their ability to pick their leaders at the next level, however the some of the past commanders argue that since they have done this before it is now a tradition and we must follow it. 

I remember something that states that we cannot make a rule at the lower level that takes away from the bylaws at the higher level. But also because something is tradition does that mean that we must always follow that? As this is an elected position it seems that the membership should be able to pick those that lead them and not have it decided for them by those that came before. 

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3 hours ago, Dave Rogers said:

We have a national bylaw that states that any member in good standing may run for any office. 

At the district level each county takes turns to pick their person to run for the lower office at the district. The county decided some time ago that the last commander at the County Level will automatically be put forth for that seat. The current officers don't agree with that as they feel that it takes away their ability to pick their leaders at the next level, however the some of the past commanders argue that since they have done this before it is now a tradition and we must follow it. 

I remember something that states that we cannot make a rule at the lower level that takes away from the bylaws at the higher level. But also because something is tradition does that mean that we must always follow that? As this is an elected position it seems that the membership should be able to pick those that lead them and not have it decided for them by those that came before. 

When a custom, even one followed for years, conflicts with a written rule or bylaw, the written rule takes precedence, and the custom falls to the ground.

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3 hours ago, Dave Rogers said:

We have a national bylaw that states that any member in good standing may run for any office. 

At the district level each county takes turns to pick their person to run for the lower office at the district.

These statements look like they may conflict. Is there a way to run if your county does not select you? 

3 hours ago, Dave Rogers said:

he county decided some time ago that the last commander at the County Level will automatically be put forth for that seat. The current officers don't agree with that as they feel that it takes away their ability to pick their leaders at the next level, however the some of the past commanders argue that since they have done this before it is now a tradition and we must follow it. 

An election is not a custom. But the question is, how was this decision made? If a motion was adopted, it could be rescinded by the motion to rescind something previously adopted. If it's just something that was done, then any "customary" aspect can be changed by a motion to do something else - and electing someone else is sufficient. 

3 hours ago, Dave Rogers said:

I remember something that states that we cannot make a rule at the lower level that takes away from the bylaws at the higher level.

It cannot violate the bylaws of the parent organization, of course. Also, the child organization must follow any bylaw provision of the parent applicable to the child. This would include, for instance, a bylaw provision saying "At meetings of all local units..." But this is a bylaw about running for office. The child organizations cannot, it seems, prevent anyone otherwise eligible from running for office. But (although it may be a matter of bylaw interpretation) it seems to me that they can come up with their own rules about nominations, to the extent that they are allowed to control a nominating process at all (see my first question). 

3 hours ago, Dave Rogers said:

But also because something is tradition does that mean that we must always follow that?

You follow custom until you don't. Custom is the lowest-ranking rule; if you don't want to follow it anymore, you make a higher-ranking rule (any) that modifies it. Or, if the custom already violates a higher-level rule, you raise a point of order. Absent one of those, you should follow custom. But I'm not sure you have a custom here.

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