ROBERT’S RULES OF ORDER

Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty – Henry M. Robert

Early in the history of man, living in tribal communities crude procedures were developed for communication and the issuing of orders. This usually was in the form of authoritarian rule by a strong man of the tribe, but various rules were used to allow some discussion from others under the chief. From this developed military type rule and administrative procedures of various degrees.

The first official use of the term parliament came under King Henry III of England from 1216-1272 AD from certain Great Councils which were held among the Barons under King Henry III.

The proceedings of Parliament in ancient times, and for along while, “Thomas Jefferson wrote more than four and a half centuries later( in the preface to his famous Manual, discussed below) “were crude, multiform, and embarrassing. They have been, however, constantly advancing toward uniformity and accuracy….”

Many of the advances in the parliamentary system alluded to by Jefferson occurred from the latter part of the sixteenth century through the seventeenth century. The same period when the procedure of the House of Commons was undergoing its new development was also the time during which permanent English colonies were established and procedures developed in the western Hemisphere, beginning with Virginia in 1607 in the House of Burgesses.

The First Continental Congress, convening in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774, was made up of delegates largely unacquainted with the representatives of colonies other than their own, and most of the advance planning among the colonies had been by correspondence. Under the existing rules and customs, the Second Continental Congress carried on the war. It also directed the framing of, and adopted, the Declaration of Independence. In assemblies in each state, through similar proceedings perhaps somewhat modified by local tradition, colonial constitutions were drafted. The constitution of the United States was produced at the constitutional Convention in 1787, in the face of seemingly deep and discouraging disagreements. Parliamentary procedure was being used in the colonies and in the formation of the United States.

But the parliamentary system of the young United States needed further codification. As presiding officer of the Senate while serving as Vice-President of the United States (1797-1801), Thomas Jefferson saw this need. He concluded, concerning the system of rules that had developed, that the most practical model developed for the Congress had served as a prototype to most of the existing state legislatures as well.

In 1801 Jefferson’s Manual of Parliamentary Practice was published in which he extensively cited about fifty English works and documents on Parliamentary law and related subjects. Jefferson’s Manual is unchallenged as the first to define and interpret parliamentary principles for our democratic republic to offer a basic pattern of rules and a measure of uniformity for legislative processes of the United States. The House of Representatives adopted Jefferson’s Manual.

While other improvements were made based upon Jefferson’s Manual it was not until 1876, after some 13 years of study, experience with meetings of groups and efforts to write, that Henry Martyn Robert published his first edition entitled “Robert’s Rules of Order”. By 1915 there had been three editions totaling over a half a million copies. Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised in 1990 are essentially the rules of the United States House of Representatives, but also adaptable for smaller groups, societies and charities, thus making these rules clearly a “process usual and customary.”

The value today of Robert’s Rules of Order is in the contribution this orderly process is making for assemblies and societies to free themselves from confusion and dispute over rules governing the use of the different motions of parliamentary law.

Yet, incredibly, we have men today who are seriously trying to argue against the use of Robert’s Rules of Order for deliberations of the Southern Party Executive Committee. While it is possible to have our own rules of conduct for such deliberations, it defies the logic and the experience of the history of the formation of our country and requires the re-invention of the wheel so to speak. But, private rules would be understood only by those presenting them, leaving the other Delegates in a position of unfair disadvantage. The rule of law can easily be bent to suit the need of the moment when there is no established code of procedure which is “usual and customary” and available for study and use by all. Private rules can lead unfairly to unrighteous dominion by the rule maker.

These private rule men vainly have tried to argue that Kentucky law forbid the use of Robert’s Rules of Order. Yet, the citations they gave for such malarkey dealt with marshal law in Kentucky, which on the one hand would be administered by military rule and on the other hand failed to even mention the term “Robert’s Rules of Order” much less to forbid the usage thereof. However, Kentucky certainly does use Robert’s Rules of Order. KRS 146.485 Section 3, (5) Conduct of meetings:

a. “Robert’s Rules of Order” shall govern the conduct of all meetings of the commission. 13 Ky.R. 1319: eff. 2-10-87.

After having this pointed out to the Kentucky gentlemen, their claims were embarrassingly brushed off as a joke. (A joke in such serious business as that at hand for us of the South?)

Next another of the group of private-rule robots pushing for top down strong central control on a national level while lying about protecting State’s Rights and Sovereignty, have now claimed that the Texas Ethics Commission, where they have filed their holy PACs upon which they rely for their legality, does not use Robert’s Rules of Order. First of all, there is no prohibition by such commission. But then, being a commission of the type that it is, everything is administrative in what they do and, of course, there is no need for Robert’s Rule of Order when an organization is being run by higher up officers of the State.

Perhaps this is what this group of centralists desire because they need to be ruled by strong officers above them giving them clear orders as to what to do next. Perhaps they feel insecure in an atmosphere of freedom and independence. Again, that’s fine for the military, but it is very immature and unbecoming of men and women supposedly seeking freedom and independence. It also seems very Tory in nature such as those receiving orders and money from higher up. In fact, don’t we already have a very strong top down rule centralist government established in Washington, D. C? Why aren’t these men supporting that? Or maybe they already are; more than we would like to think.

Fortunately, there are enough real men and women who value and understand the elements of freedom and independence sufficiently to see through this supposed need for no rule of law except strong top down private-rule. It will take such real Southern State’s Rights people to establish a fraternity of Sovereign States in building a more perfect Federation. – Vance Beaudreau