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by a majority. The presiding officer, if a member, may vote to sustain his own decision. Speaker Reed notes that "All questions of order arising under an appeal must be decided peremptorily by the Chair, whose conduct may afterward be the subject of action by the assembly" (Reed's Rules, p. 135). After the vote has been taken the chairman announces that the decision of the Chair is sustained or reversed, as the case may be. If the vote does not sustain the Chair it sustains the point of order made by the member, and both Chair and meeting must be governed by it. If the Chair is sustained the proceedings are to be governed accordingly.
The presiding officer may preclude an appeal, especially if he is in doubt, by at once submitting the point of order to the meeting. An appeal is not in order when another appeal is before the house. A vote on an appeal can be reconsidered, but in the United States House of Representatives it has been decided that "Where an appeal has been decided, and by virtue of such decision a bill taken up and passed, it is too late to move a reconsideration of the vote on the appeal."
A point of order should be made as promptly as possible, and an appeal should be taken as speedily as possible after the disputed ruling.
In the House of Representatives of the United States it has been ruled that "It is too late to renew a question of order on the admissibility of a proposition which has been overruled on the preceding day, where debate has been allowed to progress on such proposition," and that “It is also too late to raise a question of order on a motion entertained without objection on a former day and entered on the Journal."
It has been decided that appeals shall not be entertained which are based upon responses of the Chair to parliamentary inquiries. They are opinions, but do not directly affect the proposition before the house, are usually not formal, and are not replies to points of order.
3. Reading of Papers. Where papers are laid before a
deliberative body for its action, every member has a right to have them once read before he votes on them; therefore, when a call is made for the reading of any paper relative to a question before the body no question need be made, and the presiding officer directs the clerk to read it as a matter of course. With the exception of papers coming under this rule, a member has no right to read, or to have read, any paper or document, without the assembly granting leave by vote, and the question of granting permission cannot be amended, and must be put to vote without debate. In some cases they may be read on
When the proposed reading is evidently for information, and not for delay, it is the usual practice for the presiding officer, if the matter is pertinent, to grant permission, unless objection is made. If objection is made, leave must be obtained as above. Cushing says, "When a motion is regularly before the assembly it is the duty of the presiding officer to state it if it be not in writing, or to cause it to be read if it be, as often as any member desires to have it stated or read for his information." Matthias says, "Motions and resolutions must be read by the secretary as often as the reading is called for by any member." Speaker Reed says, "Whenever an assembly has to take final action upon a paper any member has a right to have the paper read, in order that the assembly may know what it is voting upon" (Reed's Rules, p. 136).
The phrase "Reading of Papers," however, embraces various kinds of papers other than those on which the body is to vote. As to such papers, Speaker Reed says: "If any member objects, the reading must be ordered by the assembly on motion, which motion shall be decided without debate. A paper which is not the subject on which the assembly is to deliberate and act can be read only in this way, except as part of the observations of a member in debate, and even then it must be subject to reasonable limitations" (Reed's Rules, p. 136).
The rule of the United States House of Representatives is as follows: "When the reading of a paper other than the one upon which the House is called to give a final vote is demanded, and the same is objected to by any member, it shall be determined without debate by a vote of the House." The reading of such papers "is usually permitted without question, and the member in debate usually reads, or has read, such papers as he pleases, but this privilege is subject to the authority of the House if another member objects."
Jefferson says: "Where papers are laid before the House or referred to a committee every member has a right to have them once read at the table before he can be compelled to vote on them; but it is a great though common error to suppose that he has a right, toties quoties, to have acts, journals, accounts, or papers read independently of the will of the House. The delay and interruption which this might be made to produce evince the impossibility of the existence of such a right. There is, indeed, so manifest a propriety of permitting every member to have as much information as possible on every question on which he is to vote, that when he desires the reading, if it be seen that it is really for information and not for delay, the Speaker directs it to be read without putting a question, if no one objects; but if objected to, a question must be put" (Manual, Section XXXII).
It has been ruled that "The reading of a report relating to a pending proposition cannot be called for after the previous question is seconded, as it would be in the nature of debate." So "on a motion to lay on the table, a demand for the reading of a paper other than the one to which the motion applied was overruled."
4. Withdrawal of Motions. After a person has made a motion or presented a proposition in some form, he may change his own mind in regard to it, or, seeing that it is likely to be defeated, he may wish to withdraw it.
According to ancient usage, the mover had no right of himself to withdraw his proposition. Thus in the British
Parliament, and in various American Legislatures, after a motion had been stated by the Chair, it became the property of the house, and could not be withdrawn without the consent of the members.
So the old parliamentary law, which was generally observed, was for the mover, if he wished to withdraw his motion, to express his desire, whereupon the chairman granted permission, if no one objected. If objection was made, leave to withdraw could only be obtained by the passage of a motion to that effect, which motion could not be amended or debated.
For a long time, however, there has been a growing disposition toward greater liberality and to give the mover a right to withdraw his motion. Thus the rule of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has been that "it may be withdrawn by the mover and seconder before amendment or decision."
Gradually, however, the power of the seconder to restrict his principal has been obliterated, as even the necessity of a second under certain conditions has been less insisted upon, so that the mover has been conceded more power over his own motion. The result has been that at the present time the common parliamentary law recognizes the right of the mover to withdraw his motion as long as it has not been modified or affected by an order of the body. This is a good rule, for the member may perceive that his motion is unnecessary, and the withdrawal may save him from the mortification of defeat, while it also saves the time of the meeting.
The rule of the House of Representatives of the United States reads: "When a motion has been made, the Speaker shall state it or (if it be in writing) cause it to be read aloud by the clerk before being debated, and it shall then be in possession of the House, but may be withdrawn at any time before a decision or amendment." That is to say, before an amendment has been incorporated in the motion, and though an amendment may be pending.
The withdrawal of a motion has been permitted even after the affirmative vote has been taken.
In the Digest and Rules of the United States House of Representatives it is noted that "It has been held and acquiesced in by the House that a motion (or proposition) cannot be withdrawn after the previous question is ordered, that being held to be a 'decision' that the House desires to vote thereon."
So the common parliamentary law to-day is that a motion may be withdrawn by the mover before a decision or amendment, that is to say, before it has been actually amended, for a motion may be withdrawn although an amendment may have been offered and be pending, and, provided, that no order bearing upon the proposition, as, for example, the previous question, has been taken by the body.
Again, it is held that "A member having the right to withdraw a motion before a decision thereon has the resulting power to modify the motion." So Speaker Reed says, "Nothing is more common than a modification made by the mover or the acceptance by him of an amendment made by another."
When a motion is withdrawn the effect is the same as if it had never been moved. When withdrawn all that
attached to it falls by the withdrawal.
5. Suspension of the Rules. Sometimes the regular rules of the body interfere with the transaction of business desired by the house at a particular moment, and the house invokes a method of temporarily suspending the force of a particular rule until the matter in question is presented, considered, and acted upon. Then the rule immediately comes into force again.
The difficulty is met by moving the suspension of the obstructing rule. This is done by a member securing the floor and saying, "I move to suspend the rule (or rules)," specifying the rule or rules intended; or by saying, "I move the rule (or rules) be suspended."
The motion cannot be debated, and cannot be amended