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Robert’s Rules of Order


Robert’s Rules provide common rules and procedures for deliberation and debate in order to place the whole membership on the same footing and speaking the same language. The conduct of ALL business is controlled by the general will of the whole membership – the right of the deliberate majority to decide.

Robert’s Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly. Under no circumstances should “undue strictness” be allowed to intimidate members or limit full participation.

Underlying Principles

  • Only one matter may be considered at a time
  • It is the right of the majority to rule
  • It is the right of the minority to be heard
  • The rights of the absentee member must be protected
  • Informed decisions and judicious action by an organization require free and impartial debate within a reasonable length of time
  • All members are entitled to equal justice and fairness from the other members and officers
  • Responsible membership demands courtesy to and from others at all times

Classification of Motions

Bring business before the assembly Assist the assembly in treating or disposing of a main motion

  • Lay on the table
  • Previous Question (close debate)
  • Limit or Extend Limits of Debate
  • Postpone to a Certain Time (or Postpone Definitely)
  • Commit (or Refer)
  • Amend
  • Postpone Indefinitely
Related to the parliamentary situation in such a way that it must be decided before business can proceed

  • Appeal
  • Consider by paragraph or seriatim
  • Create a Blank
  • Division of a Question
  • Division of the Assembly
  • Objection to the Consideration of a Question
  • Parliamentary Inquiry
  • Point of Information
  • Point of Order
  • Request for Permission to Withdraw a Motion
  • Suspend the Rules
Deal with special matters of immediate or overriding importance. They do not relate to the pending business of the assembly

  • Fix the time to Which to Adjourn
  • Adjourn
  • Recess
  • Raise a Question of Privilege
  • Call for the Orders of the Day
Bring a question back before the assembly for consideration:

  • Take from the table
  • Rescind or amend something previously adopted
  • Discharge a committee
  • Reconsider

Precendence of Motions

  • Main, Subsidiary and Privileged motions are ranking motions. Ranking motions must be made in order of their precedence, from the lowest to highest. The motions are disposed of in reverse order, from highest to lowest. Any incidental motion which is pending is disposed of first
  • When a main motion is pending, motions of higher rank, either subsidiary or privileged, may be made in the order of their rank or precedence, as well as any incidental motion which is applicable or appropriate. Although only one main motion may be pending at one time, any number of ranking motions may be pending at the same time, so long as the last one made is of higher rank than those made previously
  • Once a motion or higher rank has been made, only motions of still higher rank can be made. No motion of lower rank is in order until the higher ranking motions are disposed of.
  • Higher ranking motions are said to “take precedence over” lower ranking motions and lower ranking motions are said to “yield to” higher rnaking motions
  • As an example – Assume that a main motion is pending and a motion to Amend is pending; a motion to Postpone Indefinitely is not in order because it is of lower rank. However, a motion to Postpone to a Certain Time is in order because it is of a higher rank

Purpose and Characteristics of Motions

  • It is essential to know the purpose of each motion. In addition to the purpose, five characteristics must be known about every motion.
    1. Does it require a second
    2. Is it debatable
    3. Is it amendable
    4. What vote is required for adoption
    5. Can the vote be reconsidered
  • All this information is provided on the “cheat sheet”

Cheat Sheets

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