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Byron Baxter

Suspend the rules and Reconsider

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2 hours ago, Weldon Merritt said:

Well, it seems obvious that we are not likely to come to agreement on this issue unless and until an Official Interpretation is issued. And even then, I suspect some still will disagree. But I, for one, am content to let my previous arguments stand. 

I think that there has been some clarification.  I think everyone here has stated that can be circumstances where suspending rule to permit someone who did not vote on the prevailing side to move to reconsider can be dilatory.

15 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Any attempt to renew a defeated main motion immediately following its rejection is, on the face of it, clearly dilatory, as would be a motion to suspend the rules and agree to [whatever motion it was that was just defeated]. This presents a self-evident case of an attempt "... to obstruct or thwart the will of the assembly as clearly indicated by the existing parliamentary situation." (RONR, 11th ed., p. 342, ll. 12-14)  This would not be the case if some time has passed and there may have been a change in circumstances causing the motion to become a different motion in some respect.

 

Emphasis added. 

In the scenarios that have been discussed, time has passed and/or there is a change in the circumstances. 

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1 hour ago, J. J. said:

In the scenarios that have been discussed, time has passed and/or there is a change in the circumstances. 

Yes; but in the scenario from the other thread that first led to this discussion, time had not passed and there had been no change in the circumstances. Further, in the specific instance discussed in the other scenario (a motion to Suspend the Rules and Reconsider and Enter on the Minutes made by a member who had not voted on the prevailing side) Mr, Honemann said that in his opinion, the motion, if in order at all, would require unanimous consent.  And (not to put words ion his mouth), I don't think that he based that just on the fact that no time had passed.

I think it is pretty clear that neither of us is likely to be persuaded by the other's arguments, and it seems doubtful that anyone else contributing to this discussion will be persuaded to change their positions either. And since I have no further argument to offer, I am willing to leave it at that.

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11 hours ago, J. J. said:

In the scenarios that have been discussed, time has passed and/or there is a change in the circumstances. 

I really hate to prolong this discussion, but it must be noted that neither the passage of time nor a change in circumstances has any relevance at all to the question originally asked in this thread (unless, of course, the motion to suspend the rules and reconsider was made at a time when it was too late to move to reconsider, which will add a whole new dimension to this conversation).   🙂

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On 8/7/2020 at 5:14 AM, Byron Baxter said:

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?

 

On 8/8/2020 at 9:31 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

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.

 

On 8/9/2020 at 2:06 PM, Atul Kapur said:

The purpose of the rule is to prevent the dilatory use of Reconsider (p. 316, 6-8).

Is it really a stretch to say that the purpose of Suspending the rule would be to allow its dilatory use?

On 8/9/2020 at 6:38 PM, Josh Martin said:

I think it is, actually, because the motion to Reconsider is debatable while the incidental motion to Suspend the Rules is not. So if any member could move to Reconsider, this could end up wasting a lot of the assembly's time. If a member makes a motion to Suspend the Rules to permit the making of a motion to Reconsider by a member who did not vote on the prevailing side, however, the assembly can swiftly dispose of the motion if it wishes to do so.

Additionally, the fact that the rule is intended to prevent the dilatory use of Reconsider does not necessarily mean all motions to Reconsider not made by a member who voted on the prevailing side are dilatory. The rule may be overinclusive.

I think Mr. Martin makes quite a salient point here.

And I would say that the logic is even more applicable to this situation, where the member "moved to suspend the rules interfering with reconsideration and reconsider the adopted motion". That sounds to me very much like a combined motion with the intention that, if adopted by a two-thirds vote, it should cause the original question to become pending as if a motion to Reconsider had already been adopted. This is quite different from merely trying to suspend the rules that interfere with the making of a motion to Reconsider (by a member who didn't vote with the prevailing side), which by itself suspends action on the original motion and effectively opens it to further debate before the assembly has even decided to reconsider the motion.

But even in the latter case, the point remains that the motion to Suspend the Rules is not debatable and therefore would not be as subject to abuse as a rule allowing any member to move to reconsider any motion regardless of how he voted originally.

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I might agree with this line of reasoning were it not for the fact that a motion to Reconsider made by a member who voted on the losing side will be dilatory regardless of whether or not it is debatable. This is made clear (albeit indirectly) by what is said in RONR (11th ed.) on page 316:

"This requirement for making the motion to Reconsider is a protection against its dilatory use by a defeated minority—especially when the motion is debatable (see Standard Characteristic 5, below) and the minority is large enough to prevent adoption of the Previous Question (16)."

This doesn't say simply "when the motion is debatable"; it doesn't say "only when the motion is debatable"; it says "especially when the motion is debatable". Thus it seems clear, at least to me, that the rule in question is a rule protecting the assembly against the dilatory use of the motion to Reconsider even if the motion will be undebatable.

Now I suppose there may be degrees of dilatoryness (a Tesserism?), and debatability may in this instance be one of them*, but I do not think the mere fact that this motion to "suspend the rules interfering with reconsideration and reconsider the adopted motion" is not debatable means that it will not be dilatory even although it is moved by a member who voted on the losing side. RONR tells me otherwise.

---------------------------------------------

* Another example would be if the motion sought to be reconsidered was voted on by ballot. This, at least to me, illustrates why posting a purely hypothetical question with precious few facts (as in this instance) so often leads to interminable discussion.  

What kind of an assembly was this? What kind of motion was sought to be reconsidered? How was it voted on? When was it voted on? I don't know.

 

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Which is more dilatory, in terms of time consumption, the motion to suspend the rules, or the point of order and appeal?

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On 8/12/2020 at 3:28 PM, J. J. said:

Which is more dilatory, in terms of time consumption, the motion to suspend the rules, or the point of order and appeal?

I wasn't going to add to this conversation. so as not to keep stirring the pot. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt this question needed a response.

Certainly, a Point of Order and Appeal on any issue may take more time than if the perceived breach had not been challenged. But that should not deter the chair from making what he or she believes to be the proper ruling. I also note that the chair's ruling and reasons, and the result of an appeal (if any), will become precedent for future rulings on the same issue. While not binding, the precedent is persuasive, especially the more often it is followed. See RONR, p. 251, l. 28 to p. 252, l. 17.

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While the motion to suspend the rules can be combined with a debated motion, I really wish that were not the case.  I find that a huge flaw in RONR and it is so often abused.

In most cases I find it a supremely rude move, such as when one debates and then calls the question.  The alligators are hungry (an inside joke that only Richard Brown and Alicia Percell will get)

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Only because @Caryn Ann Harlos finds the parliamentary action "supremely rude" will I venture to remind her that the action is not permitted to interrupt a member's speech, and it does require a two-thirds vote for adoption.  As I have said before, on this forum, a very small minority has little option but to go along with the decisions of an overwhelmingly large opposition.  That's not "supremely rude".  It is, rather, a protection of the whole assembly against the tyranny of the very few.

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#sorrynotsorry I still find it extremely rude.  Just becausse someone "can" do something and get away with it doesn't mean they should.  That pesky minority may lie in wait to get even, and they do.  Rules be damned when it comes to overriding courtesy. #alligators

Edited by Caryn Ann Harlos

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7 minutes ago, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

#sorrynotsorry I still find it extremely rude.  Just becausse someone "can" do something and get away with it doesn't mean they should.  That pesky minority may lie in wait to get even, and they do.  Rules be damned when it comes to overriding courtesy. #alligators

I fail to see how using a tactic that is clearly allowed by the rules can be considered "rude." But it bears reminding readers that the rules in RONR are largely default rules. In most cases (including this specific example) an organization is free to adopt its own special rules of order to vary from the default.

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 I don't know why if something is allowed it can't be rude.  That seems to make this a religion rather than a rule book.  Debating and then pulling up the ladder after you or attempting to, is rude.  If I have to explain that, well we are just different, and that is okay.

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43 minutes ago, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

 I don't know why if something is allowed it can't be rude.  That seems to make this a religion rather than a rule book.  Debating and then pulling up the ladder after you or attempting to, is rude.  If I have to explain that, well we are just different, and that is okay.

I would agree if this ladder-pulling were actually possible.  However it is not possible without the concurrence of the members assembled by at least a two-to-one margin.  Those who feel there are still things that need saying can simply vote against ordering the Previous Question.

Even so, should two-thirds of the members agree that this is a rude practice, they have only to adopt a Special Rule of Order, as I have seen in practice, that the Previous Question may only be moved immediately on gaining recognition, and is out of order once any reference is made to the merits of the motion.

I would not necessarily support the adoption of such a rule, but it's an available course of action.

Edited by Gary Novosielski

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38 minutes ago, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

 I don't know why if something is allowed it can't be rude.  That seems to make this a religion rather than a rule book.  Debating and then pulling up the ladder after you or attempting to, is rude.  If I have to explain that, well we are just different, and that is okay.

In my view, no behavior is ipso facto rude. It is rude only if it is considered so within a specific culture or group. And sometimes the specific context also is important. There are countless examples of behavior that is considered rude in one culture or context, but not in another. Sometimes, omitting the behavior in the other culture may be considered rude.

It seems to me that rather than railing against a rule that has long been an accepted part of parliamentary procedure, your efforts would be better spent in persuading your organization to  adopt a Special Rule or Order banning the practice. I suspect if enough organizations did that, it might lead eventually to a change in the default rule.

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On 9/15/2020 at 12:57 PM, Weldon Merritt said:

In my view, no behavior is ipso facto rude. It is rude only if it is considered so within a specific culture or group. And sometimes the specific context also is important. There are countless examples of behavior that is considered rude in one culture or context, but not in another. Sometimes, omitting the behavior in the other culture may be considered rude.

 

I am not convinced that this action is rude, supremely or not. However, I disagree with the above as applied here, because RONR is not a culture or group. I see no reason something can't be rude within, say, American society, which has its own rules and norms, yet permitted in RONR. (Whether or not a person ought to do it is yet another question.) Plus, RONR is always used within a group, which may well have its own cultural expectations.

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One of the purposes of RONR is to set out a certain etiquette by which members can express themselves about the pending question without seeming to be "rude".  My worry is not that members will be "rude" when pursuing an active parliamentary strategy; my worry is that members will sit there passively for fear of being labelled "rude", when, in fact, their active participation would be in the best interests of the society.

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1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

I see no reason something can't be rude within, say, American society, which has its own rules and norms, yet permitted in RONR. (Whether or not a person ought to do it is yet another question.) Plus, RONR is always used within a group, which may well have its own cultural expectations.

That's exactly my point. By adopting the rules in RONR, the group has tacitly agreed that actions permitted by those rules, is not "rude" in the context of a meeting, whether or not the actions might be considered rude in another context. The group is always free to adopt its own Special Rules of Order disallowing something that otherwise would be allowed under RONR. 

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14 minutes ago, Weldon Merritt said:

That's exactly my point. By adopting the rules in RONR, the group has tacitly agreed that actions permitted by those rules, is not "rude" in the context of a meeting, whether or not the actions might be considered rude in another context. The group is always free to adopt its own Special Rules of Order disallowing something that otherwise would be allowed under RONR. 

They could. But it's also the case that Congress could (maybe) outlaw things American society considers rude, but it generally doesn't. (I say generally because there's a scene in Silence of the Lambs where Clarisse mentions that Hannibal would consider eating her to be rude, and that happens to be illegal. (Not legal advice.)) Manners are often seen as something above and beyond rules. We're not obligated not to be rude - and, as I mentioned, I'm not convinced that we ought not to be rude, although it's a handy rule of thumb. The only reason we keep our elbows off the table is a desire not to be rude, or maybe to get a job or a second date or whatever. 

So suppose an organization is a culturally-specific one, and a certain thing is rude in that culture but not in American culture. They could, of course, adopt a special rule of order (or standing rule, depending on the details, or a bylaw) prohibiting it, or they could rely on their common cultural understanding and simply not do it because it's rude.

In fact, they may prefer the latter course, because usually, we prefer to enforce manners with social sanctions, not points of order. And most people, I think, recognize that there are times when it is appropriate to be rude. It doesn't cease to be rude. Consider being a census taker and knocking on Hannibal's door. When he pulls out the Chianti and fava beans, you might interrupt him and then run off while he's talking. That's rude, but you have a good reason to do it.

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2 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

Consider being a census taker and knocking on Hannibal's door. When he pulls out the Chianti and fava beans, you might interrupt him and then run off while he's talking. That's rude, but you have a good reason to do it.

I disagree that it would be rude to interrupt and run off in that context. It would be rude if there were no good reason to do it. So apparently we have different definitions of what it means to be "rude."

Let's look at a different example. Usually, it would be considered rude to boo the performers in a play. But in a melodrama, booing the villain actually is encouraged. In fact, I suspect if the booing is not boisterous enough, the villain will be disappointed and think his performance was somehow lacking in villainy. Different rules, different expectations.

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1 minute ago, Weldon Merritt said:

So apparently we have different definitions of what it means to be "rude."

Seems that way, and it makes sense to me how each one plays out in this context.

2 minutes ago, Weldon Merritt said:

Let's look at a different example. Usually, it would be considered rude to boo the performers in a play. But in a melodrama, booing the villain actually is encouraged. In fact, I suspect if the booing is not boisterous enough, the villain will be disappointed and think his performance was somehow lacking in villainy. Different rules, different expectations.

I agree, but would treat this as akin to a different culture. Theater people always strike me as having their own culture, actually - I shared a house with some in college and it was weird.

 

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Guest Guestie
On 9/17/2020 at 10:23 AM, Rob Elsman said:

One of the purposes of RONR is to set out a certain etiquette by which members can express themselves about the pending question without seeming to be "rude". 

Like proscribing the impugning of another member's personality as, say, "rude" (43:21).

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20 hours ago, Guest Guestie said:

Like proscribing the impugning of another member's personality as, say, "rude" (43:21).

 

Hmm.  I seem to have quoted this without replying to it.  And whatever I was going to say has slipped my alleged mind.

As you were.  Apologies for the interruption.

Edited by Gary Novosielski

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15 hours ago, Guest Guestie said:

Like proscribing the impugning of another member's personality as, say, "rude" (43:21).

Oh is this forum a deliberative assembly now?  I am the member of multiple societies with different cultures.  It is universally considered to be rude.  I consider myself to have a done a service here so that now you will now what a not insignificant number of people think of you when you do it.  Allowed or it.  This is not a religion.  Just because RONR allows something that does not annoint it as not rude, merely allowed.  Being a Karen in public is allowed too.  None of us like them.  Nice dog pile though.  Carry on.  And I and the many like-minded people I am aware of will continue to have that opinion.  

Edited by Caryn Ann Harlos

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On 9/19/2020 at 9:36 AM, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

is this forum a deliberative assembly now?

No. Do you think that means it's OK to be rude, or to attack the character of other participants? 

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I gave an opinion on an action in a meeting.  No one here was doing it.  None of this was about any of the participants.  It was not my intent to be rude.  If any felt I was, I apologize.  I have autism and can be overly blunt and can struggle with written communications as it is completely devoid of other social cues.  I appreciate you letting me know it was coming off as rude.

Edited by Caryn Ann Harlos

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