Parliamentary Authority

Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, first published in 1876 by Colonel Henry Martyn Robert, is currently in its tenth edition, published in 2000, is the most popular and well-known parliamentary authority.

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, first published in 1950 by Alice Sturgis and referred to as TSC or Sturgis, is currently in its fourth edition, published in 2001. It is used by many medical associations of physicians and dentists, including the American Medical Association House of Delegates and American Association of Orthodontists as well as by the Association of Flight Attendants and American Library Association.

Demeter’s Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, first published in 1948 by George Demeter and called “the Blue Book,” is the third-most popular parliamentary authority. It is often favored by labor unions.

Rules in a parliamentary authority can be superseded by the group’s constitution, bylaws or by adopted procedural rules (with a few exceptions). In RONR the adopted procedural rules are called special rules of order. Assemblies that do not adopt a parliamentary authority may use an existing parliamentary authority by custom, or may consider themselves governed by the “common parliamentary law”, or “common law of parliamentary procedure”. RONR notes that a society that has adopted bylaws that do not designate a parliamentary authority may adopt one by the same vote required to adopt special rules of order. A mass meeting can adopt a parliamentary authority by a simple majority vote. RONR notes that “in matters on which an organization’s adopted parliamentary authority is silent, provisions found in other works on parliamentary law may be persuasive – that is, they may carry weight in the absence of overriding reasons for following a different course – but they are not binding on the body.”

Some societies write their own parliamentary authority for use specifically for their own assembly.

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