Decorum in Debate [see 2]

36. Decorum in Debate [see 2]. In debate a member must confine himself to the question before the assembly, and avoid personalities. He cannot reflect upon any act of the assembly, unless he intends to conclude his remarks with a motion to rescind such action, or else while debating such motion. In referring to another member, he should, as much as possible, avoid using his name, rather referring to him as "the member who spoke last," or in some other way describing him. The officers of the assembly should always be referred to by their official titles. It is not allowable to arraign the motives of a member, but the nature or consequences of a measure may be condemned in strong terms. It is not the man, but the measure, that is the subject of debate. If at any time the Chairman rises to state a point of order, or give information, or otherwise speak, within his privilege [see 40], the member speaking must take his seat till the Chairman has been first heard. When called to order, the member must sit down until the question of order is decided. If his remarks are decided to be improper, he cannot proceed, if any one objects, without the leave of the assembly expressed by a vote, upon which question there shall be no debate.

Disorderly words should be taken down by the member who objects to them, or by the clerk, and then read to the member; if he denies them, the assembly shall decide by a vote whether they are his words or not. If a member cannot justify the words he used, and will not suitably apologize for using them, it is the duty of the assembly to act in the case, requiring both members to withdraw* [If both are personally interested. [See page 161.]] till it has decided its course, it being a general rule that no member should he present in the assembly when any matter relating to himself is under debate. If any business has taken place since the member spoke, it is too late to take notice of any disorderly words he used.

Closing Debate

37. Closing Debate. Debate upon a question is not closed by the Chairman rising to put the question, as, until both the affirmative and negative are put, a member can claim the floor, and re-open debate [see 38]. Debate can be closed by the following motions, which are undebatable [ 35], and, except to Lie on the Table, shall require a two-thirds* [In Congress, where each speaker can occupy the floor one hour, any of these motions to cut off debate can be adopted by a mere majority. In ordinary societies harmony is so essential, that a two-thirds vote should be required to force the assembly to a final vote without allowing free debate.] vote for their adoption [ 39]:

(a) An objection to the consideration of a question [only allowable when the question is first introduced, 15], which, if sustained, not only stops debate, but also throws the subject out of the assembly for that session [ 42]; which latter effect is the one for which it was designed.

(b) To lie on the table [ 19], which, if adopted, carries the question to the table, from which it cannot be taken without a majority favors such action.

(c) The previous question [ 20], which has the effect of requiring all the questions before the assembly [excepting as limited in 20] to be put to vote at once without further debate. It may be applied merely to an amendment or to an amendment of an amendment.

(d) For the assembly to adopt an order (1) limiting debate upon a special subject, either as to the number or length of the speeches; or (2) closing debate upon the subject at a stated time, when all pending questions shall be put to vote without further debate. Either of these two measures may be applied only to a pending amendment, or an amendment thereto, and when this is voted upon, the original question is still open to debate and amendment.