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  1. JimDavidson JimDavidson December 2, 2008

    @11 I wonder if the proper procedure for investigating a member of the LNC is to have the Judicial Committee do so. If that were the case, then wouldn’t this resolution be an attempt to usurp the power of that separate committee? I am not fully conversant with LP bylaws (quite deliberately – rules should not get in the way of action to enhance freedom).

    But, if this vague understanding I have is relevant, would it not be useful to bring this to the attention of some judicial committee members? Could someone get David Nolan’s views, please?

  2. JimDavidson JimDavidson December 2, 2008

    @12 I don’t care for their willingness to use procedural analysis as a substitute for reason. I do think that they are equivocators, as the Porter’s Speech in “MacBeth” described them.

    “If a man were porter of Hell Gate, he should have old turning the key. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ the name of Beelzebub? … Have napkins enow about you; here you’ll sweat for’t. (Knock.) Knock, knock! Who’s there, in the other
    devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale, who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator.”

  3. johncjackson johncjackson December 1, 2008

    Am I the only reader who has no fucking clue about professional parliamentarians?

  4. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp December 1, 2008

    One thing that’s interesting about the letter is that the “apologize or be suspended motion” which it seems to proceed from is inoperant — the minutes of the September meeting clearly state that said motion was withdrawn.

    While the rules for what constitutes “cause” are non-existent, any competent Judicial Committee would likely dismiss non-compliance with a withdrawn demand as proper cause.

    I wonder it the Inquisitors don’t understand that they don’t have cause on those grounds, or if they understand it and just decided to use it as a generic hook to hang the parliamentarian inquiry on.

    Not that it really matters. Long-time observers of the LNC’s modus operandi, particularly in the Starr/Sullentrup era, can’t have not noticed that the criteria of action are almost always “do we want this and can we get away with this?” rather than “is this the right thing to do and the right way to do it?”

  5. Steve M Steve M December 1, 2008

    If I have read this correctly the LNC by super majority can remove from office a member for “cause” where “cause” is undefined.

    I started my open letter with an accusation of autocratic and arbitrary against the proposed LNC action. If LNC’s proposed cause is breach of confidentiality or for wearing a Boston Tea Party tank top or for personality conflicts then my accusation will be strongly reinforced.

    I doubt I will resign from the Party but I will likely refuse to continue to financially support the National Party. I also might buy A Boston Tea Party tea-shirt to wear to Libertarian functions.

  6. George Donnelly George Donnelly December 1, 2008

    Works for me in FF 3 as well. You can always right click on the link and do save link as …

  7. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | December 1, 2008

    Works in firefox for me.

  8. MattSwartz MattSwartz December 1, 2008

    Somehow it only works in IE, which is totally backwards.

    I guess this is the strength of Robert’s Rules; when everyone gets along, you don’t need them, but then when things go down you’re glad they’re there.

  9. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | December 1, 2008

    Here is the text, but it comes out jumbled when I copy and paste from the pdf. If anyone wants to clean it up, have at it.


    1 Henry M. Robert III, William J. Evans, Daniel H. Honemann, & Thomas J. Balch,
    Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th ed. (Cambridge, Ma.: Perseus, 2000).
    Page 1 of 7
    Henry M. Robert III, P.R.P.
    109 Duke of Gloucester Street
    Annapolis, Maryland 21401-2528
    November 30, 2008
    Mr. William Redpath, Chair
    Libertarian Party
    2600 Virginia Avenue, N.W. Suite 200
    Washington, D.C. 20037
    Dear Mr. Redpath:
    This letter constitutes our professional opinion as parliamentarians
    concerning the following question with regard to the Libertarian Party: “One atlarge
    member of the Libertarian National Committee has engaged in behavior that
    some National Committee members believe to be injurious to the party and its
    purposes. They desire to remove this member from the National Committee. What,
    in detail, is the correct procedure?”
    This opinion is based on the Bylaws of the Libertarian Party, as adopted in
    convention May 2008, on the Judicial Committee Appellate Procedure Rules,
    adopted 1989, and on the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised
    (RONR),1 which is the Society’s adopted parliamentary authority. Our
    qualifications for providing this opinion are that we are both members of the
    authorship team for the current edition of RONR, have been accorded the status of
    Professional Registered Parliamentarians (P.R.P.) by the National Association of
    Parliamentarians, and have each served as Parliamentarian for the National
    Association of Parliamentarians.
    2 The preceding two sentences are subject to the qualification that under Section 9 of
    Article 8, “The National Committee may, without meeting together, transact business by mail. . .
    on any question submitted by the Chair or by at least 1/5 of the members of the Committee.” The
    procedure there set forth, which calls for return of votes within fifteen days, does not appear to
    contemplate any possibility of amending a motion thus submitted. Any “debate” that could occur
    would presumably take the form of communications among National Committee members during
    Page 2 of 7
    Removal as a Member of the Libertarian National Committee–Role of National
    Article 13 of the Libertarian Party Bylaws states, “The rules contained in the
    current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern the Party
    in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent
    with these bylaws and any special rules of order adopted by the Party.” Chapter
    XX of the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised contains rules
    governing disciplinary procedures. However, these are superseded by the specific
    procedures for suspension and removal of at-large members of the Libertarian
    National Committee provided in Article 8, Section 5 and in Article 9 of the Party
    Bylaws, as well as in the Judicial Committee Rules of Appellate Procedure to the
    extent these comply with the bylaws.
    Article 8, Section 5 of the Libertarian Party Bylaws states, “The National
    Committee may, for cause, suspend any member-at-large by a vote of 2/3 of the
    entire National Committee.”
    Several things are clear from this sentence read in the context of the rest of
    the article and in the light of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.
    First, under the bylaws provision, apart from the super-majority vote
    requirement and the subsequent appeal, no special procedural requirements are
    applicable to the deliberations and action of the Libertarian National Committee
    on such a matter (unlike, for example, the special procedures contemplated by
    Chapter XX of RONR). Thus, for example, no notice of intent to move to suspend
    is required, no investigating committee need be appointed or report, and no trial
    need be held. As with any other main motion, a motion to suspend a member-atlarge
    is debatable under the usual rules for debate and is amendable (for example,
    so as to substitute a lesser penalty such as a reprimand). See RONR (10th ed.), p.
    98. To end debate and move to an immediate vote would require adoption of the
    previous question by a vote of two-thirds of those present and voting, RONR (10th
    ed.), pp. 189-201; otherwise to limit debate would require a similar vote, RONR
    (10th ed.), pp. 183-189.2
    the 15-day period. In that context, motions for the previous question or to limit or extend the
    limits of debate have no apparent application.
    Page 3 of 7
    Second, although the motion is described by the bylaws as one to “suspend”
    the at-large member, because affirmation of the suspension by the Judicial
    Committee after appeal or failure to appeal within seven days effectively results in
    the office being “deemed vacant,” the motion in reality is one to remove from
    office which does not become finally effective until the appeals process is
    Third, the National Committee may only remove for “cause” but “cause” is
    left undefined, meaning that it is a matter for the sound judgment of the requisite
    number of members of the National Committee, subject to review by the Judicial
    Fourth, the vote required is “2/3 of the entire National Committee.” The
    “entire National Committee” is functionally equivalent to what RONR calls the
    “entire membership,” defined as “the total number of those who are members of
    the voting body at the time of the vote.” RONR (10th ed.), p. 390, l. 25-27. Thus,
    for a motion to suspend an at-large member of the National Committee to prevail,
    it must receive an affirmative vote that equals or exceeds two-thirds of the total
    number of all the members of the National Committee, including the at-large
    member whose suspension is being sought and any members who are absent or
    abstaining, but not counting any vacancies. We are informed that there are 17
    members of the National Committee now in office. If that is true at the time of
    such a vote, a minimum of 12 votes would be required.
    One other point is pertinent. The last sentence of Section 1 of Article 8
    states, “The National Committee may delegate its authority in any manner it deems
    necessary.” In light of the requirement that an at-large member may be removed
    (“suspended”) only by a two-thirds vote of all the members of the National
    Committee, theoretically the National Committee could delegate its authority to
    suspend an at-large member to some other entity, but the vote required for such a
    delegation would be that described in the preceding paragraph – that is (assuming
    there are 17 members of the National Committee in office at the time of the vote),
    a minimum of 12 votes would be required.
    For example, continuing to assume there were 17 members of the National
    Committee in office, by a vote of 12 or more a resolution could be adopted that 1)
    directed an at-large member to issue an apology or take some other remedial
    action for stated offenses by a named date; 2) directed some other entity, pursuant
    3 It should be noted that in this example the finding by the other entity is only a factual
    determination whether the apology or other remedial action specified by the National Committee
    has been complied with and is not a decision to suspend, and that is the reason why only a
    majority vote is required by the entity.
    Page 4 of 7
    to a delegation of power thereby authorized, thereafter to determine by majority3
    vote whether the direction to apologize or take other remedial action was
    adequately complied with; and 3) provided that, if the designated entity
    determined that the directed apology or other remedial action was not adequately
    complied with, the at-large member would thereby automatically be suspended.
    In such a case, the time for appeal would run from the date of the designated
    entity’s vote, rather than from the date of the National Committee vote, since the
    former would constitute the actual suspension.
    Removal as a Member of the Libertarian National Committee– Role of Judicial
    If a motion to suspend an at-large member of the National Committee is
    adopted, it is subject to appeal under the bylaws. “Failure to appeal within seven
    days shall confirm the suspension and bar any later challenge or appeal.” Article
    8, Section 5. As noted above, this effectively means that if there is no appeal
    within seven days after a vote to suspend an at-large member is adopted, the
    member is thereby removed as a member of the National Committee.
    To prevent this, under the bylaws an appeal must be made in writing within
    seven days, and under the Judicial Committee Appellate Procedure Rules
    (authorized by Article 9, Section 3 of the bylaws) this written appeal must be
    submitted in seven copies to the Chair of the Judicial Committee, who has seven
    days to forward copies to the other members of the Judicial Committee.
    Article 8, Section 5, provides, “The Judicial Committee shall set a date for
    hearing the appeal between 20 and 40 days of receipt of the appeal and shall notify
    all interested persons, which persons shall have the right to appear and present
    evidence and argument.”
    By contrast, outside the context of a National Convention, the Judicial
    Committee Appellate Rules make no provision for a hearing but only for a
    meeting, which the rules attempt to provide will normally be by teleconference, of
    the Judicial Committee members, as follows:
    Committee members shall review all material they are sent within
    Page 5 of 7
    seven days of receiving it, and each member shall contact the Chair,
    by phone and/or in writing, as soon as he or she has done so. Any member who
    wishes to contact other members directly may of course do so.
    After the Chair has been contacted by at least two other Committee
    members, he or she shall set a time for a meeting of the Committee to
    decide the matter at hand. Unless a majority of the members request a
    physical gathering, the meeting shall take place by telephone
    conference. Members who are unable to participate in the meeting
    shall retain the right to vote by mail or by phone, provided their vote
    is transmitted to the Chair no later than 72 hours after the meeting.
    A very important point must be noted in this connection. Because the
    language from the Appellate Rules quoted immediately above is clearly
    inconsistent with the bylaws in this context, it is necessarily superseded by the
    bylaws to the extent of the conflict. Thus, it remains the case that, in accordance
    with the rules, the Judicial Committee Chair must distribute copies of an appeal to
    the other members of the Judicial Committee within the seven-day period, and the
    other members must review the material and contact the Chair within seven days
    of receiving their copies of the appeal.
    However, instead of setting a teleconference to decide the appeal, the Chair
    must instead set the date, time, and place for a hearing on the appeal – a date
    which must be set to occur within the window “between 20 and 40 days of receipt
    of the appeal.”
    The question could be raised whether the Chair may set the hearing date or
    whether he or she must instead call a meeting of the Judicial Committee at which
    it must do so by majority vote. Under RONR (10th ed.), p. 483-84, a committee
    generally meets at the call of its chairman, unless it has adjourned to meet at a
    specific time. The bylaws provide that the “Judicial Committee shall set” the
    hearing date. The Judicial Committee Rules–adopted in accordance with Article
    9, Section 3 of the bylaws– authorize the Chair to “convene” the committee for
    what amounts to a hearing during a convention, and of course to call meetings of
    the committee between conventions. As a hearing is a meeting of the committee,
    albeit of a special type, it appears that the manner in which the Judicial Committee
    sets a hearing date may be by its Chair alone issuing a call for a Committee
    meeting that will include the conduct of a hearing during the meeting.
    Page 6 of 7
    Although the Judicial Committee Rules specify that the “meeting” to be
    called by the Chair is to be a teleconference unless a majority of the Judicial
    Committee’s members request a physical gathering, the absence of such an
    applicable authorizing provision in the bylaws has, as we have already stated, a
    superseding effect which renders the section of the Judicial Committee Appellate
    Procedure Rules calling for a meeting by teleconference invalid. Under RONR
    (10 th ed.), p. 482, l. 28-30, only the bylaws (or higher-ranking rules) may make
    such provision. Consequently, the hearing in this case must be a physical
    gathering in “one room or area.” RONR (10th ed.), p. 79.
    The bylaws require that the Judicial Committee “shall notify all interested
    persons [of the hearing], which persons shall have the right to appear and present
    evidence and argument.” In this context, “all interested persons” evidently means
    all members of the National Committee.
    At the hearing, therefore, all members of the National Committee who
    choose to do so must be able to attend, and present evidence if they wish (naturally
    including the at-large member who has been suspended). The exact process for
    hearing this evidence is not spelled out in the bylaws or in the Judicial Committee
    Appellate Procedure Rules. Since it is an appellate procedure, there is no basis for
    assuming that it need proceed in the form of a trial as delineated in Chapter XX of
    RONR. If a custom has been established by past practice, that should be followed.
    If not, the Judicial Committee may conduct the process according to a reasonable
    and fair approach (for example, with respect to reasonable time limits on
    testimony) that allows the hearing to proceed in an orderly fashion that preserves
    an adequate opportunity to be heard.
    A quorum of the Judicial Committee is five of its members. Article 9,
    Section 1. Should the Committee fail to obtain a quorum, it should be called to
    order, whereupon measures may be taken to secure a quorum, the meeting may be
    recessed, an adjourned meeting may be scheduled, and the meeting may be
    adjourned, but no substantive business may be transacted. RONR (10th ed.), p.
    336-37. If no hearing can garner a quorum within the required time limits, the
    suspension is upheld and becomes a removal.
    Since “At the hearing the burden of persuasion shall rest upon the
    appellant,” the Judicial Committee begins with a presumption in favor of the
    judgment of the National Committee and is to give the benefit of the doubt to that
    judgment. After the appellant and other members of the National Committee
    wishing to do so have been afforded the opportunity to present their argument and
    evidence, the hearing proper is adjourned. The Judicial Committee’s own
    4 The rules provide that notice also be given to “any other person(s) directly affected by
    the ruling” but in the case of suspension/removal of an at-large member of the National
    Committee, no particular persons appear to fit this description.
    Page 7 of 7
    deliberations and vote are conducted in executive session, that is, with no one but
    members of the Judicial Committee present. RONR (10th ed.), p. 483.
    In accordance with Article 8, Section 5 of the bylaws, the Judicial
    Committee has the period within 30 days of the hearing either to affirm the
    suspension (thus creating a vacancy, effectively transforming the suspension into a
    removal) or to reinstate the at-large member; a failure to meet the deadline affirms
    the suspension and effects the removal. In accordance with the Judicial
    Committee Appellate Procedure Rules, the Chair notifies the appellant, the
    National Chair, and the National Secretary of the vote, preliminarily in person or
    by telephone, and thereafter in writing upon receiving signed verification of their
    votes from Judicial Committee members.4
    We hope this opinion is responsive to your inquiry. Please do not hesitate
    to contact us to clarify it or with any questions or other matters concerning which
    we might be of service.
    Very truly yours,
    Henry M. Robert III, P.R.P.
    Thomas J. Balch, P.R.P.

  10. George Phillies George Phillies December 1, 2008

    Link is up if one is seeing comments, and down if one is only seeing the front page.

    The actual parliamentarian comments on what the LNC does look fairly orthodox. The ‘let’s discuss how the judiciary committee does things’ may be a horse of a different color.

  11. Gene Trosper Gene Trosper December 1, 2008

    Link works for me too.

  12. George Donnelly George Donnelly December 1, 2008

    Works for me. I just downloaded the file again right now.

  13. MattSwartz MattSwartz December 1, 2008

    It doesn’t telegraph anything to me because I can’t get the link to work.

    Is it broken?

  14. George Donnelly George Donnelly December 1, 2008

    If this doesn’t telegraph their intentions, I’m not sure what would.

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