“In most societies it is understood that members are required to be of honorable charter and reputation…an organization or assembly has the ultimate right to make and enforce its own rules, and to require that its members refrain from conduct injurious to the organization or its purposes.” (RRofO p. 643 line 6 – 10)
Any member found guilty of “tending to injure the good name of the organization, disturb its well-being, or hamper it in its work, is properly subject to disciplinary action, whether By-laws make mention of it or not.”
On a rare occasion you will run into a presiding officer who, for whatever reason, ignores a member making a motion or moving an Appeal. There are a couple of things that might be done in that situation, but the first one is to get the motion processed.
Because the presiding officer is refusing to process the motion you have just made, and because this is a meeting of the membership, Robert’s Rules gives the membership a way to handle this situation. If the presiding officer refuses to recognize your motion, you can stand at your place and you can process the motion yourself, putting it to a vote of the assembly. This is an extreme answer for an extreme problem…but it is there for a reason, representative government trumps autocratic rule.
One must be careful with this approach. If you do not have the majority of the members sympathetic to your perspective, then you might be seen as a disruptive force in the meeting and the Chair, with the majority behind him, will treat you as such. That treatment would first be the Chair calling you to order. If that didn’t work, the Chair would then name you, which is the equivalent of preferring charges. You are now opening yourself up to disciplinary action from the group. At that point any member could make a motion to impose a penalty for your actions. That penalty can range from requesting an apology, to censorship, to removal from the meeting room, to suspension of membership rights for a period of time, or even expulsion from membership (which would require a two-thirds vote).
When any member of the governing body disagrees with the ruling of the Chair, he can make a motion to Appeal that decision. This motion takes the decision out of the hands of the presiding officer (Chair) and places it into the hands of the membership, as it should be in a process based on the democratic process. Our governing rules guarantee this.
An Appeal from the Decision of the presiding officer (Chair) is a motion focused on the decision of the Chair, not the person in the chair. It shouldn’t be taken personally. It’s simply a method to handle a disagreement between two points of view. Once the Appeal is made and seconded, the body votes to sustain or reject the decision of the Chair, and the assembly moves on.
How to Remove the Chair (RROO – Page 651 L 16 – 23 & L 3–17 and P. 653 L 1-16)
If the Chair fails to act in accordance with the assembly’s decision on an appeal (or on a point of order submitted to a vote of the assembly) or otherwise culpably fails to perform the duties of the Chair properly in a meeting, the assembly may employ measures temporarily to replace the chair with another presiding officer expected to act in accordance with the will of the assembly.”If the chair is not an appointed or elected chairman pro tem, a motion to declare the chair vacant is not in order. However, a motion can be made to Suspend the Rules so as to take away from him the authority to preside during all or part of a given session. **
(** This is true even if the by-laws contain a provision to the effect that the president shall preside at all meetings, since such a provision is clearly in the nature of a rule of order, which may be suspended even if in the by-laws.)
(Rules clearly identifiable as in the nature of Rules of Order that are placed within the by-laws can be suspended by 2/3 votes of those present.)
“When such a motion is made and seconded, after stating the motion he must turn the chair over to another following the procedure described below, and the remedy for refusal or failure to do so is that the motion may be put to a vote by its maker.
Rule against the Chair’s Participation in debate (RRoO p. 394 l. 26–35 & p. 395 L 1–26)
If the presiding officer is a member of the society, he has as an individual – the same rights as any other member; but the impartiality required of the Chair in an assembly precludes his exercising these rights while he is presiding. Normally, in a large body, he should have nothing to say on the merits of pending questions. To participate in debate, he must relinquish the chair, and in such a case he should turn the chair over:
1. To the highest-ranking vice-president present who has not spoken on the question and does not decline on the grounds of wishing to speak to it; or
2. If no such vice-president is in the room, to some other member qualified as in (a), whom the chair designates (and who is assumed to receive the assembly’s approval by unanimous consent) unless member(s) then nominate other person(s), in which case the presiding officer’s choice is also treated as a nominee and the matter is decided by vote.
Any one motion to Suspend the Rules that might limit the authority or duties of the presiding officer during a meeting can remain in effect, at most, for one session. (See p. 87 L 6-11 and p. 88 L 26-35). Therefore, in order to prevent the regular presiding officer from presiding during subsequent sessions, the motion to Suspend the Rules would have to be renewed and separately adopted at each of the sessions.
Moreover, since Suspend the Rules applies only when “an assembly wishes to do something during a meeting that it cannot do without violating one or more of its regular rules” (p. 260 L19-21, emphasis added), the motion cannot be used to remove from the presiding officer (even temporarily) any administrative duties – those related to the role of an executive officer that are distinct from the function of presiding over the assembly at its meetings. (Cf. p. 456 L 22-23)
If the motion to suspend the rules is adopted by 2/3rds vote, then, unless the motion names a new occupant of the chair, the ranking vice-president (or in the absence of the vice-president, an elected temporary presiding officer (p.453-454) has the duty of presiding through the end of the session (or any shorter period specified by the motion to suspend the rules).
The permanent removal of the presiding officer, and removal of authority to exercise administrative duties requires 60% of all voting members as prescribed in our Constitution.
It is important to note here that the governing documents of the Party are legal documents, and the duty of the Chair is to properly enforce the rules of the organization under these legal documents while conducting its meetings. He is entitled to the presence of a Registered Parliamentarian to assist him. When the Chair ignores the rules and acts improperly, he is not only breaking law, but abdicating his authority and in essence is removing himself from his position as the Chair. Remember the Chair's role is to facilitate the group in making decisions. The focus is on the will of the members, not the will of the presiding officer.
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