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sions, such as personalities, revilings, or unmannerly words. He should not arraign the motives of a member, but he should observe the utmost decorum in debate both in language and in manner.
Second, as to the rights of members. The member has a right to be present and to participate in the business. He has equal rights with all other members, for each and all have an absolute equality under the law. He has a right to introduce business and a right to present a proposition for action, and when he does so he has a right to expect consideration and fair treatment. He has a right to speak for or against measures when they are before the house, and to debate the questions at such length as he desires and the law permits. He has a right to vote upon the questions that are submitted. He has a right to inspect the journals, and even to publish votes therefrom. He has a right to insist on the execution of a subsisting order of the assembly. He has a right to assist in maintaining order in the house. He has a right to demand that each member and the meeting be in order, which he may do by calling the attention of the Chair to individual disorder or disorder on the part of the house, and he may make the point that the member on the floor is not speaking to the question. He may demand equitable treatment from the Chair and from every member, and particularly is he entitled to recognition by the presiding officer, when, at the proper time, he being first up, he properly addresses the Chair. In addition, he has a claim on all the privileges belonging to membership.
POWERS OF A PARLIAMENTARY BODY
A PARLIAMENTARY body, like the individual member, has duties, rights, and powers. Some deliberative bodies have been practically unrestricted in their powers, like a revolutionary body in times of anarchy. Some have been limited by their charter from a higher authority, or by a constitution drawn up by their creators. Some have been self-limited.
However such bodies may vary, every body has a degree of authority over its individuals. This power is necessary to preserve order and to protect its own life. Without this power the meeting might be thrown into a chaotic condition.
The duty of suppressing disorder is primarily with the presiding officer, but each member has a responsibility, and the ultimate responsibility and authority is with the body as a whole. The Chair can call to order, the member can call attention to disorder, and the house as an entirety can determine the extreme penalty for disorderly conduct.
Beyond the matter of mere disorder, the body may inquire into the moral character and special moral conduct of its members. As General Robert says: "Every deliberative assembly, having the right to purify its own body, must therefore have the right to investigate the character of its members" (Rules, p. 201), but the severest penalty the ordinary deliberative body can inflict is expulsion.
It has been held that the United States House of Representatives could punish a disorderly member even more severely than by expulsion.
When the presiding officer calls on a disorderly member to be in order the business then before the house is suspended until order is restored. If the member persists, he
is specifically called to order, and, if he continues, then the house, on motion of a member, decides what shall be done. Speaker Reed says: "The punishment which can be inflicted depends upon the character of the assembly, and is in legal assemblies usually limited by law. In voluntary assemblies it may be censure, reprimand, or a demand for apology on pain of expulsion. It almost always happens, when attention is called to the unsuitable nature of the words used by the member, or the acts performed by him, that he makes such an explanation or retraction as enables the assembly to excuse him and go on with its business" (Reed's Rules, p. 168). General Robert says: "A deliberative assembly has the inherent right to make and enforce its own laws and punish an offender, the extreme penalty, however, being expulsion from its own body" (Rules, p. 198). But the body must be careful as to how it announces the result. "When [the member is] expelled, if the assembly is a permanent society, it has a right for its own protection, to give public notice that the person has ceased to be a member of that Society" (Robert's Rules, p. 198). If it goes beyond that it incurs a great risk, and there is a case where charges having been published, a suit for libel was instituted and damages were recovered by the party concerned.
There is a punishment called "naming" a member who, notwithstanding the repeated calls of the Chair, persists in his irregularity or impropriety. When thus called by his name by the Chair, "The house may require the disorderly member to withdraw. He is then to be heard in exculpation, and to withdraw. Then the Speaker states the offense committed, and the house considers the degree of punishment they will inflict" (Jefferson's Manual, Section XVII).
As to disorderly words, Jefferson says: "Disorderly words are not to be noticed till the member has finished his speech. Then the person objecting to them, and desiring them to be taken down by the clerk at the table, must repeat them. The Speaker then may direct the
clerk to take them down in his minutes; but if he thinks them not disorderly, he delays the direction. If the call becomes pretty general, he orders the clerk to take them down, as stated by the objecting member. They are then part of his minutes, and when read to the offending member, he may deny they were his words, and the House must then decide by a question whether they are his words or not. Then the member may justify them, or explain the sense in which he used them, or apologize. If the House is satisfied, no further proceeding is necessary. But if two members still insist to take the sense of the House, the member must withdraw before that question is stated, and then the sense of the House is to be taken. When any member has spoken, or other business intervened, after offensive spoken, they cannot be taken notice of for censure. And this is for the common security of all, and to prevent mistakes which must happen if words are not taken down immediately. Formerly they might be taken down at any time the same day” (Manual, Section XVII).
The United States House of Representatives has modified this and requires the disorderly words to be noticed as soon as uttered, but does not require the offending member to withdraw while the House is deciding upon its course of action.
The House rule is: "If any member, in speaking or otherwise, transgress the rules of the House, the Speaker shall, or any member may, call him to order; in which case he shall immediately sit down, unless permitted on motion of another member, to explain, and the House shall, if appealed to, decide on the case without debate; if the decision is in favor of the member called to order, he shall be at liberty to proceed, but not otherwise; and, if the case require it, he shall be liable to censure or such punishment as the House may deem proper.
"If a member is called to order for words spoken in debate, the member calling him to order shall indicate the words excepted to and they shall be taken down in writing
at the clerk's desk and read aloud to the House; but he shall not be held to answer, nor be subject to the censure of the House therefor, if further debate or other business has intervened" (Rule XIV).
In certain very extreme cases, as, for example, when the words were alleged to be treasonable, or a breach of privilege, "the House has proceeded to censure, or other action, although business may have intervened" (Digest of the United States House of Representatives).