42. A Session of an assembly is a meeting* [See definitions in Introduction for the distinction between "meeting" and "session."] which, though it may last for days, is virtually one meeting, as a session of a Convention; or even months, as a session of Congress; it terminates by an "adjournment without day." The intermediate adjournments from day to day, or the recesses taken during the day, do not destroy the continuity of the meeting--they in reality constitute one session. In the case of a permanent society, having regular meetings every week, month, or year, for example, each meeting constitutes a separate session of the society, which session however can be prolonged by adjourning to another day.
If a principal motion [§ 6] is indefinitely postponed or rejected at one session, while it cannot be introduced again at the same session [see Renewal of a Motion, § 26], it can be at the next, without it is prohibited by a rule of the assembly.
No one session of the assembly can interfere with the rights of the assembly at any future session,* [Any one session can adopt a rule or resolution of a permanent nature, and it continues in force until at some future session it is rescinded. But these Standing Rules, as they are termed, do not interfere with future sessions, because at any moment a majority can suspend or rescind them, or adopt new ones.] without it is expressly so provided in their Constitution, Bylaws, or Rules of Order, all of which are so guarded (by requiring notice of amendments, and at least a two-thirds vote for their adoption) that they are not subject to sudden changes, but may be considered as expressing the deliberate views of the whole society, rather than the opinions or wishes of any particular meeting. Thus, if the presiding officer were ill, it would not be competent for one session of the assembly to elect a chairman to hold office longer than that session, as it cannot control or dictate to the next session of the assembly. By going through the prescribed routine of an election to fill the vacancy, giving whatever notice is required, it could then legally elect a chairman to hold office while the vacancy lasted. So it is improper for an assembly to postpone anything to a day beyond the next succeeding session, and thus attempt to prevent the next session from considering the question. On the other hand, it is not permitted to move a reconsideration [§ 27] of a vote taken at a previous session [though the motion to reconsider can be called up, provided it was made at the last meeting of the previous session.] Committees can be appointed to report at a future session.
Note On Session--In Congress, and in fact all legislative bodies, the limits of the sessions are clearly defined; but in ordinary societies having a permanent existence, with regular meetings more or less frequent, there appears to be a great deal of confusion upon the subject. Any society is competent to decide what shall constitute one of its sessions, but, where there is no rule on the subject, the common parliamentary law would make each of its regular or special meetings a separate session, as they are regarded in this Manual.
The disadvantages of a rule making a session include all the meetings of an ordinary society, held during a long time as one year, are very great. [Examine Indefinitely Postpone, § 24, and Renewal of a Motion, § 26.] If members of any society take advantage of the freedom allowed by considering each regular meeting a separate session, and repeatedly renew obnoxious or unprofitable motions, the society can adopt a rule prohibiting the second introduction of any principal question [§ 6] within, say, three or six months after its rejection, or indefinite postponement, or after the society has refused to consider it. But generally it is better to suppress the motion by refusing to consider it [§ 15].
43. A Quorum of an assembly is such a number as is competent to transact its business. Without there is a special rule on the subject, the quorum of every assembly is a majority of all the members of the assembly. But whenever a society has any permanent existence, it is usual to adopt a much smaller number, the quorum being often less than one-twentieth of its members; this becomes a necessity in most large societies, where only a small fraction of the members are ever present at a meeting.* [While a quorum is competent to transact any business, it is usually not expedient to transact important business without there is a fair attendance at the meeting, or else previous notice of such action has been given.]
The Chairman should not take the chair till a quorum is present, except where there is no hope of there being a quorum, and then no business can be transacted, except simply to adjourn. So whenever during the meeting there is found not to be a quorum present, the only thing to be done is to adjourn--though if no question is raised about it, the debate can be continued, but no vote taken, except to adjourn.
In committee of the whole, the quorum is the same as in the assembly; in any other committee the majority is a quorum, without the assembly order otherwise, and it must wait for a quorum before proceeding to business. If the number afterwards should be reduced below a quorum, business is not interrupted, unless a member calls attention to the fact; but no question can be decided except when a quorum is present. Boards of Trustees, Managers, Directors, etc., are on the same footing as committees, in regard to a quorum. Their power is delegated to them as a body, and what number shall be present in order that they may act as a Board, is to be decided by the society that appoints the Board. If no quorum is specified, then a majority constitutes a quorum.