Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums
Byron Baxter

Suspend the rules and Reconsider

Recommended Posts

A member who did not vote on the prevailing side moved to suspend the rules interfering with reconsideration and reconsider the adopted motion.  We have a divided opinion as to whether the presiding officer must put the question on reconsideration to a separate vote or  consider both motions as combined RONR (11th ed.) p. 262 ll. 8-17. One of the debated points was what effect if any the two-thirds vote for suspending the rules has on the majority vote needed for reconsideration. 

Can the presiding officer process the motions  of suspend the rules and reconsideration together, and if adopted state the question is on the previously adopted motion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Byron Baxter said:

Can the presiding officer process the motions  of suspend the rules and reconsideration together, and if adopted state the question is on the previously adopted motion?

Yes. This combined motion is undebatable and requires a 2/3 vote to be adopted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Zev

Recently Mr. Honemann said on thread robertsrules.forumflash.com/topic/35692-a-play-to-force-a-motion-to-pass-when-a-certain-member-is-not-present/page/2/

"I agree with Mr. Merritt when he says that the rule that the motion to Reconsider can be made only by a member who voted with the prevailing side is a rule which protects the entire assembly against its dilatory use. As a consequence, I'd say that this rule requires a unanimous vote for its suspension."

Is this apparent disagreement a misperception on my part?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, as I said in that thread, I am of the opinion that the rule which prohibits the making of a motion to Reconsider by anyone other than a member who voted with the prevailing side is a rule which, if it can be suspended at all, requires unanimous consent for its suspension.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Yes, as I said in that thread, I am of the opinion that the rule which prohibits the making of a motion to Reconsider by anyone other than a member who voted with the prevailing side is a rule which, if it can be suspended at all, requires unanimous consent for its suspension.

And I am one of those who initially argued that Suspend the Rules required only a two-thirds vote even when the motion to be reconsidered requires a higher threshold. Bu the more I think about it, the more I think that Mr. Honemann's reasoning makes sense. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps the specific case is a little unfortunate.

In the more general case, the incidental motion, Suspend the Rules, which is undebatable, should not be combined with a debatable motion, since it is quite possible that the illuminative and persuasive debate may cause a result in the vote that would not be expected from the result of the vote on the suspension.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Rob Elsman said:

In the more general case, the incidental motion, Suspend the Rules, which is undebatable, should not be combined with a debatable motion, since it is quite possible that the illuminative and persuasive debate may cause a result in the vote that would not be expected from the result of the vote on the suspension.

I agree. Nonetheless, Suspend the Rules can be combined with a debatable motion if so desired.

"When the purpose of a motion to Suspend the Rules is to permit the making of another motion, and the adoption of the first motion would obviously be followed by adoption of the second, the two motions can be combined, as in "to suspend the rules and take from the table (34) the question relating to ..." The foregoing is an exception to the general rule that no member can make two motions at the same time except with the consent of the assembly—unanimous consent being required if the two motions are unrelated (see also pp. 110, 274–75)." (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 262)

"When the object is to adopt a motion without debate or amendment, the form is:

MEMBER A (obtaining the floor): I move to suspend the rules and adopt [or "agree to"] the following resolution: "Resolved, That ..." (Second.)" (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 266)

Generally, if such a motion is made then the motion to suspend the rules is not debatable and will require a 2/3 vote for adoption.

As to the question in the particular case regarding whether a unanimous vote is required to suspend the rule in question, my own view is that the rule protecting against misuse of the motion to Reconsider by a member who did not vote on the prevailing side is a rule protecting the assembly generally, not a rule protecting individual members or a minority of a particular size. So I think a 2/3 vote would be sufficient.

In the event this is not correct, then the proper course of action (assuming a unanimous vote to suspend the rules cannot be obtained) would be for the members to instead move to Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted, and this may well be the simpler course of action anyway. Either motion may be made by any member regardless of how they voted on the original motion, and no suspension of the rules is necessary. While such motions will require a 2/3 vote or a vote of a majority of the entire membership for adoption (since previous notice has not been given), the motion to Suspend the Rules also requires a 2/3 vote for adoption.

Edited by Josh Martin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Mr. Martin.  The authors give us another example in the Official Interpretations of a motion to suspend the rules and immediately postpone indefinitely a main motion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

10 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

Is this apparent disagreement a misperception on my part?

I was arguing in that other thread that 2/3 would be adequate unless the underlying motion, that was lost and which someone is trying to Reconsider required more than a 2/3 vote for adoption.

But there appears to be a consensus that unanimous consent is required.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not disagree with Mr. Honemann's opinion as a theoretical postulate.  As a practical matter, however, it is unlikely to be derived from the book by the average reader.  So, I think I will content myself to abstain on the matter as being above my pay-grade. 😊

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

As to the question in the particular case regarding whether a unanimous vote is required to suspend the rule in question, my own view is that the rule protecting against misuse of the motion to Reconsider by a member who did not vote on the prevailing side is a rule protecting the assembly generally, not a rule protecting individual members or a minority of a particular size. So I think a 2/3 vote would be sufficient.

In the event this is not correct, then the proper course of action (assuming a unanimous vote to suspend the rules cannot be obtained) would be for the members to instead move to Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted, and this may well be the simpler course of action anyway. Either motion may be made by any member regardless of how they voted on the original motion, and no suspension of the rules is necessary. While such motions will require a 2/3 vote or a vote of a majority of the entire membership for adoption (since previous notice has not been given), the motion to Suspend the Rules also requires a 2/3 vote for adoption.

Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted would work only if the original motion was adopted. In the case that was being discussed in the previous thread, the motion was defeated.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, Weldon Merritt said:

Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted would work only if the original motion was adopted. In the case that was being discussed in the previous thread, the motion was defeated.  

Yes, I understand that. In the case raised in this thread, the motion was adopted.

In the case of a motion which was defeated, an alternate option would be to Suspend the Rules to permit the renewal of a motion which had previously been defeated within the same session.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Josh Martin said:

In the case of a motion which was defeated, an alternate option would be to Suspend the Rules to permit the renewal of a motion which had previously been defeated within the same session.

I concur. And for renewal of most motions, Suspend the Rules would require only  the usual two-thirds. But what threshold would be required when the motion to be renewed requires an extraordinarily high threshold (such as the nine-tenths vote n the example from the previous thread?

If Dr, Kapur's reasoning from the other thread is correct, it seems that Suspend teh Rules would require the same threshold as the motion to be renewed.I don't think it would require a unanimous vote. Mr. Honemann's reasoning supporting a unanimous vote requirement makes sense in the context of Reconsider, which otherwise could be made only by someone on the prevailing side, but not for Renewal, which can be made by any member.

Another option for Reconsider, of course is to attempt to persuade someone on the prevailing side to move the motion. This is the specific tactic suggested by RONR at p. 316, ll. 12-20. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, Weldon Merritt said:

I concur. And for renewal of most motions, Suspend the Rules would require only  the usual two-thirds. But what threshold would be required when the motion to be renewed requires an extraordinarily high threshold (such as the nine-tenths vote n the example from the previous thread?

I don't think the threshold for adoption of the motion has anything to do with a motion to Suspend the Rules to permit its introduction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

I don't think the threshold for adoption of the motion has anything to do with a motion to Suspend the Rules to permit its introduction.

Neither did Richard Brown and I in the other thread. But Dr. Kapur had a good argument that it does, base on the RONR provision that, "In any case, no rule protecting a minority of a particular size can be suspended in the face of a negative vote as large as the minority protected by the rule." P. 261, ll. 15-17.

Dr. Kapur's argument was that the 10%+ who voted against the motion discussed in that thread were "the minority protected by the rule." That was in a different context (the ability to move Reconsider); but I'm not so sure the same argument, if valid in that context, wouldn't apply in this one as well. But I'm certainly willing (and even a bit hopeful) to be persuaded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was suggested that the reason for the higher voting requirement, e.g. unanimous consent, would be to protect the assembly from the dilatory use of a motion to reconsider.  

There is a problem because the majority determines if a motion is dilatory.  If the majority wishes consider or reconsider something,  that decision is solely within the control of the majority. 

At least on that ground, I could not rule that a 2/3 vote was insufficient to empowered the majority to determine what is dilatory. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Weldon Merritt said:

Neither did Richard Brown and I in the other thread. But Dr. Kapur had a good argument that it does, base on the RONR provision that, "In any case, no rule protecting a minority of a particular size can be suspended in the face of a negative vote as large as the minority protected by the rule." P. 261, ll. 15-17.

Dr. Kapur's argument was that the 10%+ who voted against the motion discussed in that thread were "the minority protected by the rule." That was in a different context (the ability to move Reconsider); but I'm not so sure the same argument, if valid in that context, wouldn't apply in this one as well. But I'm certainly willing (and even a bit hopeful) to be persuaded.

A rule which requires a higher threshold for adoption for a particular motion protects a minority of a particular size in the sense that the motion may not be adopted by a threshold lower than what is required by the rule. If a rule requires a 90% threshold for adoption, then a motion to Suspend the Rules which sought to change the threshold for adoption would likewise require a 90% vote. This does not mean, however, that other motions related to the main motion likewise require a 90% vote for adoption.

So no, I do not agree with Dr. Kapur's argument that if a motion requires a vote higher than 2/3 for adoption, then a motion to Suspend the Rules to permit a member who did not vote on the prevailing side to move to Reconsider the motion requires the same vote for adoption. The motion to Reconsider, in and of itself, does not adopt the underlying motion. It merely brings it before the assembly again for consideration. The rule which requires a 90% vote for adoption does not protect members from the motion being considered (or reconsidered).

Edited by Josh Martin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My position is based on the fact that RONR explicitly states that the purpose of the rule (limiting who can move Reconsider or REM) "is a protection against its dilatory use." (11th ed., p. 316, line 8). When combined with p. 261, lines 15-17, which speak of the vote required to Suspend a "rule protecting a minority of a particular size".

As it applies to Renewal of a motion in the same session, the relevant question is, "Who is protected by the principle of parliamentary law on p. 75, lines 7-10?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

The rule which requires a 90% vote for adoption does not protect members from the motion being considered (or reconsidered).

As I said in the previous post, the protection is against the dilatory use of Reconsider itself, by being moved by someone on the losing side.

I have opined that, in the situation described in the other thread, the threshold to Suspend in that example should be 90%.
Mr. Honemann, with the agreement of others, says it requires unanimous consent, presumably in all cases.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only facts presented are that "[a] member who did not vote on the prevailing side moved to suspend the rules interfering with reconsideration and reconsider the adopted motion." The question asked is "Can the presiding officer process the motions of suspend the rules and reconsideration together, and if adopted state the question is on the previously adopted motion?"

Based solely upon the facts as presented, the only rule interfering with reconsideration is the rule on page 315 which prohibits the making of a motion to Reconsider by anyone other than a member who voted with the prevailing side. We are told (on page 316) that this requirement for making the motion to Reconsider is a protection against its dilatory use by a defeated minority, but this "minority" may, I think, be a minority of any size, depending upon the size of the group which the rule is designed to protect. We are also told that, when a member who cannot move a reconsideration believes there are valid reasons for one, he should try, if there is time or opportunity, to persuade someone who voted with the prevailing side to make such a motion. Otherwise, he can obtain the floor while no business is pending and briefly state his reasons for hoping that a reconsideration will be moved, provided that this does not run into debate; or, if necessary while business is pending, he can request permission to state such reasons (see Request for Any Other Privilege, p. 299). In no case is it in order for him to make the motion himself. To attempt to do presents a prima facie case of an attempt to use a motion for dilatory purposes.

The question then is this: Is the rule on page 315 which prohibits the making of a motion to Reconsider by anyone other than a member who voted with the prevailing side a rule which can be suspended, and if so, what is the vote required for its suspension? In other words, is a rule protecting an assembly against the dilatory use of a motion a rule which can be suspended, and if so, what is the vote required for its suspension?

After carefully considering what is said on pages 342-43 concerning dilatory motions, I am of the opinion that rules prohibiting the dilatory use of motions are not rules which can be suspended, or if any such rule can be suspended, it will require unanimous consent for its suspension because it protects all members of the assembly from the dilatory use of a motion.

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

After carefully considering what is said on pages 342-43 concerning dilatory motions, I am of the opinion that rules prohibiting the dilatory use of motions are not rules which can be suspended, or if any such rule can be suspended, it will require unanimous consent for its suspension because it protects all members of the assembly from the dilatory use of a motion.

And after carefully considering your reasoning, I now agree. But there still remains the question of whether a particular tactic is dilatory. I think it is clear enough that under the rules of RONR, a motion to Reconsider made by a member who voted on the non-prevailing side would be dilatory. But what about renewal of a defeated motion at the same session? I would be very interested in your thoughts on that scenario. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, Weldon Merritt said:

And after carefully considering your reasoning, I now agree. But there still remains the question of whether a particular tactic is dilatory. I think it is clear enough that under the rules of RONR, a motion to Reconsider made by a member who voted on the non-prevailing side would be dilatory. But what about renewal of a defeated motion at the same session? I would be very interested in your thoughts on that scenario. 

Well, I have no hesitancy in saying that if a motion to Reconsider has been rejected, unanimous consent will be required in order to renew it, and I'm quite sure that this rule cannot be suspended by a two-thirds vote.  🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

After carefully considering what is said on pages 342-43 concerning dilatory motions, I am of the opinion that rules prohibiting the dilatory use of motions are not rules which can be suspended, or if any such rule can be suspended, it will require unanimous consent for its suspension because it protects all members of the assembly from the dilatory use of a motion.

 

 

 

 

 

However a motion can only be dilatory "if it seeks to obstruct or thwart the will of the assembly as clearly indicated by the existing parliamentary situation  (p.  342, ll. 12-14)."  This, assuming it gets a 2/3 vote, does not obstruct or thwart the will of the assembly.  In fact, it expresses the will of the assembly in this case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, J. J. said:

However a motion can only be dilatory "if it seeks to obstruct or thwart the will of the assembly as clearly indicated by the existing parliamentary situation  (p.  342, ll. 12-14)."  This, assuming it gets a 2/3 vote, does not obstruct or thwart the will of the assembly.  In fact, it expresses the will of the assembly in this case. [emphasis added]

That argument assumes the conclusion.
If it didn't receive a 2/3 vote, then it was dilatory and the the assembly's time was not protected.

There is no reasonable grounds for the presiding officer to make that assumption at the time the person on the losing side attempts to make the motion. So Mr. Honemann's position takes effect before your counter-argument can be tested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...