[Editor's note: This is a modified version of the original, to adapt it to
the needs of an online document.]
Explanation of the Table. -- The rules at the head of the 8 columns
apply to all original main motions, and to all other cases except where a star
(*) or a figure indicates that the motion is an exception to these rules. The
star shows that the exact opposite of the rule at the head of the column applies
to the motion, and a figure refers to a note which explains the extent of the
exception. For example, "Lay on the Table"; the Table shows that §28
of the Manual treats of this motion; that it is "undebatable" and "cannot
be amended"; that "no subsidiary motion can be applied" to it;
and that it "cannot be reconsidered"; -- the fact that the 4 other
columns have no stars or figures shows that the rules at the head of these
columns apply to this motion, to Lay on the Table, the same as to original main
To Fix the Time to which to Adjourn is privileged only when made while
another question is pending, and in an assembly that has made no provision for
another meeting on the same or the next day. To Adjourn loses its privileged
character and is a main motion if in any way qualified, or if its effect, if
adopted, is to dissolve the assembly without any provision for its meeting
again. To Take a Recess is privileged only when made while other business is
An affirmative vote on this motion cannot be reconsidered.
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
Undebatable when the motion to be amended or reconsidered is undebatable.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These motions may be moved whenever the immediately pending question is
debatable, and they apply only to it, unless otherwise specified.
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.
Undebatable if made when another question is before the assembly.
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.
A negative vote on this motion cannot be reconsidered.
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
Cannot be reconsidered after a vote has been taken under it.
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.
Opens to debate main question when latter is debatable.
Rescind is under the same rules as to amend something already adopted. See
notes 2, 5, and 6, above.
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
No privileged of 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.
EXPLANATION OF THE TABLE OF RULES RELATING TO MOTIONS
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.
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
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.
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.