Robert’s Rules of Order Revised > Table of Rules Relating to Motions

Henry M. Robert (1837–1923).  Robert’s Rules of Order Revised.  1915.

Table of Rules Relating to Motions

    1 See last footnote1-2.   1
    2 An affirmative vote on this motion cannot be reconsidered.   2
    3 An Amendment may be made (a) by inserting (or adding) words or paragraphs; (b) by striking out words or paragraphs; (c) by striking out certain words and inserting others; or (d) by substituting one or more paragraphs for others, or an entire resolution for another, on the same subject.   3
    4 Undebatable when the motion to be amended or reconsidered is undebatable.   4
    5 Constitutions, By-Laws, and Rules of Order before adoption are in every respect main motions and may be amended by majority vote. After adoption they require previous notice and 2/3 vote for amendment.   5
    6 Standing Rules may be amended at any time by a majority vote if previous notice has been given, or by a 2/3 vote without notice.   6
    7 An Appeal is undebatable only when made while an undebatable question is pending, or when relating to indecorum, or to transgressions of the rules of speaking, or to the priority of business. When debatable, only one speech from each member is permitted. On a tie vote the decision of the chair is sustained.   7
    8 Cannot be reconsidered after the committee has taken up the subject, but by 2/3 vote the committee at any time may be discharged from further consideration of the question.   8
    9 These motions may be moved whenever the immediately pending question is debatable, and they apply only to it, unless otherwise specified.   9
  10 If resolutions or propositions relate to different subjects which are independent of each other, they must be divided on the request of a single member, which can be made when another has the floor. If they relate to the same subject and yet each part can stand alone, they may be divided only on a regular motion and vote.   10
  11 Undebatable if made when another question is before the assembly.   11
  12 The objection can be made only when the question is first introduced, before debate. A 2/3 vote must be opposed to the consideration in order to sustain the objection.   12
  13 A negative vote on this motion cannot be reconsidered.   13
  14 The Previous Question may be moved whenever the immediately pending question is debatable or amendable. The questions upon which it is moved should be specified; if not specified, it applies only to the immediately pending question. If adopted it cuts off debate and at once brings the assembly to a vote on the immediately pending question and such others as are specified in the motion.   14
  15 Cannot be reconsidered after a vote has been taken under it.   15
  16 The motion to reconsider can be made while any other question is before the assembly, and even while another has the floor, or after it has been voted to adjourn, provided the assembly has not been declared adjourned. It can be moved only on the day, or the day after, the vote which it is proposed to reconsider was taken, and by one who voted with the prevailing side. Its consideration cannot interrupt business unless the motion to be reconsidered takes precedence of the immediately pending question. Its rank is the same as that of the motion to be reconsidered, except that it takes precedence of a general order, or of a motion of equal rank with the motion to be reconsidered, provided their consideration has not actually begun.   16
  17 Opens to debate main question when latter is debatable.   17
  18 Rescind is under the same rules as to amend something already adopted. See notes 2, 5, and 6, above.   18

  Incidental Motions. Motions that are incidental to pending motions take precedence of them and must be acted upon first. [See 13 for list of these motions.]   20
  No privileged or subsidiary motion can be laid on the table, postponed definitely or indefinitely, or committed. When the main question is laid on the table, etc., all adhering subsidiaries go with it.   21


Every one expecting to take an active part in meetings of a deliberative assembly should become sufficiently familiar with the Order of Precedence of Motions and the Table of Rules to be able to refer to them quickly. This familiarity can only be acquired by actual practice in referring to these tables and finding the rulings on the various points covered by them in regard to various motions. These six pages contain an epitome of parliamentary law. The Order of Precedence of Motions should be committed to memory, as it contains all of the privileged and subsidiary motions, 12 in number, arranged in their order of rank, and shows in regard to each motion whether it can be debated or amended, and what vote it requires, and under what circumstances it can be made.   23
In the Table of Rules the headings to the 8 columns are rules or principles which are applicable to all original main motions, and should be memorized. They are as follows: (1) Original Main Motions are debatable; (2) debate must be confined to the immediately pending question; (3) they can be amended; (4) all subsidiary motions can be applied to them; (5) they can be reconsidered; (6) they require only a majority vote for their adoption; (7) they must be seconded; and (8) they are not in order when another has the floor. Whenever any of the 44 motions in the Table differs from a main motion in regard to any of these rules, the exception is indicated by a star (☆) or a figure in the proper column opposite that motion. A star shows that the exact opposite of the rule at the head of the column applies to the motion. A figure refers to a note which explains the extent of the exception. A blank shows that the rule at the head of the column applies, and therefore that the motion is in this respect exactly like a main motion. Some of the motions are followed by figures not in the columns: these figures refer to notes giving useful information in regard to these motions.   24
The Table of Rules is constructed upon the theory that it is best to learn the general principles of parliamentary law as applied to original main motions, and then to note in what respects each other motion is an exception to these general rules. Thus, the motion to postpone definitely, or to a certain time, has no stars or figures opposite it, and therefore it is subject to all of the above 8 rules the same as any main motion: to postpone indefinitely has two stars and the number 13 opposite to it, showing that the rules at the head of these three columns do not apply to this motion. The first star shows that debate is not confined to the motion to postpone indefinitely, but that the main motion is also open to debate; the second star shows that the motion to postpone indefinitely cannot be amended; and the number 13 refers to a note which shows that a negative vote on this motion cannot be reconsidered.   25
As has previously been stated, a star shows that the motion, instead of being subject to the rule at the head of the column, is subject to a rule exactly the reverse. Stars in the various columns, therefore, mean that the motions are subject to the following rules: (1) undebatable; (2) opens main question to debate; (3) cannot be amended; (4) no subsidiary motion can be applied; (5) cannot be reconsidered; (6) requires a two-thirds vote; (7) does not require to be seconded; and (8) in order when another has the floor.   26


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