Order and Rules

61. Order and Rules. (a) Orders of the Day. Sometimes an assembly decides that certain questions shall be considered at a particular time, and when that time arrives those questions constitute what is termed the "orders of the day," and if any member "calls for the orders of the day," as it requires no second, the chairman immediately puts the question, thus: "Will the assembly now proceed to the orders of the day?" If carried, the subject under consideration is laid aside, and the questions appointed for that time are taken up in their order. When the time arrives, the chairman may state that fact, and put the above question without waiting for a motion. If the motion fails, the call for the orders of the day cannot be renewed till the subject then before the assembly is disposed of.* [In Congress, a member entitled to the floor cannot be interrupted by a call for the orders of the day. In an ordinary assembly, the most common case where orders of the day are decided upon is where it is necessary to make a programme for the session. When the hour arrives for the consideration of any subject on the programme, these rules permit any member to call for the orders of the day (as described in Rules of Order, 2) even though another person has the floor. If this were not permitted, it would often be impossible to carry out the programme, though wished for by the majority. A majority could postpone the orders of the day, when called for, so as to continue the discussion of the question then before the assembly. An order as to the time when any subject shall be considered, must not be confounded with the rules of the assembly; the latter must be enforced by the chairman, without they are suspended by a two-thirds vote; the former, in strictness, can only be carried out by the order of a majority of the assembly then present and voting.]

(b) Special Order. If a subject is of such importance that it is desired to consider it at a special time in preference to the orders of the day and established order of business, then a motion should be made to make the question a "special order" for that particular time. This motion requires a two-thirds vote for its adoption, because it is really a suspension of the rules, and it is in order whenever a motion to suspend the rules is in order. If a subject is a special order for a particular day, then on that day it supersedes all business except the reading of the minutes. A special order can be postponed by a majority vote. If two special orders are made for the same day, the one first made takes precedence.

(c) Suspension of the Rules. It is necessary for every assembly, if discussion is allowed, to have rules to prevent its time being wasted, and to enable it to accomplish the object for which the assembly was organized. And yet at times their best interests are subserved by suspending their rules temporarily. In order to do this, some one makes a motion "to suspend the rules that interfere with," etc., stating the object of the suspension. If this motion is carried by a two-thirds vote, then the particular thing for which the rules were suspended can be done. By "general consent," that is, if no one objects, the rules can at any time be ignored without the formality of a motion.

(d) Questions of Order. It is the duty of the chairman to enforce the rules and preserve order, and when any member notices a breach of order, he can call for the enforcement of the rules. In such cases, when he rises he usually says, "Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order." The chairman then directs the speaker to take his seat, and having heard the point of order, decides the question and permits the first speaker to resume his speech, directing him to abstain from any conduct that was decided to be out of order. When a speaker has transgressed the rules of decorum he cannot continue his speech, if any one objects, without permission is granted him by a vote of the assembly. Instead of the above method, when a member uses improper language, some one says, "I call the gentleman to order;" when the chairman decides as before whether the language is disorderly.

(e) Appeal. While on all questions of order, and of interpretation of the rules and of priority of business, it is the duty of the chairman to first decide the question, it is the privilege of any member to "appeal from the decision." If the appeal is seconded, the chairman states his decision, and that it has been appealed from, and then states the question, thus: "Shall the decision of the chair stand as the judgment of the assembly?" [or society, convention, etc.]

The chairman can then, without leaving the chair, state the reasons for his decision, after which it is open to debate (no member speaking but once), excepting in the following cases, when it is undebatable: (1) When it relates to transgressions of the rules of speaking, or to some indecorum, or to the priority of business; and (2) when the previous question was pending at the time the question of order was raised. After the vote is taken, the chairman states that the decision of the chair is sustained, or reversed, as the case may be.