LP Judicial Committee Receives New Appeal, re – LNC Chair Vacancy: Are Bylaws > Robert’s


Dr. George Phillies, APPEAL THE LNC

Following the resignation of Libertarian Party Chair Joe Bishop-Henchman in late June 2021, arguments were made that it was the position – not of Chair – but of Vice-Chair, that had become vacant, as under Robert’s Rules of Order Vice-Chairs become Chairs immediately upon resignations.

Others argued that the LP bylaws, as well as past precedent, were clear that it was the Chair’s position that was vacant, and that the Vice-Chair was only Acting Chair, pending a bylaws-required vote by the members of the LNC to elect a new Chair.

Late yesterday, 18 November 2021, a petition was presented to the Judicial Committee in an attempt to clarify which of those two points-of-view should prevail.

Shortly after former Chair Joe Bishop-Henchman’s resignation, LNC Vice-Chair (or Chair, or was it Acting Chair) Ken Moellman declared that he would not accept the Chair’s position through either process, but also ruled that the Robert’s Rules of Order process was applicable, thus reversing prior (bylaws) precedent and setting new (Robert’s) precedent for “automatic-ascension” of the Vice-Chair to Chair, with future LNCs then to be tasked with voting on, and electing a new Vice-Chair.

On 13 July 2021, Dr. Phillies and others posted on social media a link to:

https://appealthelnc.godaddysites.com

At that time, Dr. Phillies wrote:

“Are you a member of the Libertarian National Party? Were you a 2020 delegate to the national convention? Either is good. Robert’s (Rules of Order) made a hash of the 2020 (Libertarian National Convention). We can fix that one slice at a time. Thanks to the recent argument over the next national Chair, an argument now settled, we have a path to doing this. ”

Past Chair Nicholas Sarwark wrote:

” . . . there are people who have tried to use parliamentary shenanigans to . . . keep people focused on internal bickering instead of reaching out to our neighbors who are not libertarian yet. There is an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the party to put a stop to these shenanigans. I know many of you have already signed this appeal, but if you are a party member and you haven’t, we could use a few extra signatures as a cushion. If you are a sustaining member of the Libertarian Party, or attended the 2020 national convention as a delegate, please add your signature to this petition so we can move forward on a path to even greater success in 2022.”

107 signatures were reported to have been required to trigger a Judicial Committee examination and decision.  Late yesterday evening the following petition was submitted with 114 unique signatures of individuals identified as either having been a delegate to the 2020 national convention, as sustaining members, or both.

The PETITION can be read, in full, HERE.

IPR Readers who wish to follow the LNC’s public discussion of this issue may do so HERE.

IPR Readers who were either delegates to the LP 2020 national convention, or are sustaining members or both, and who wish to do so, may add their signature to the APPEAL THE LNC petition HERE. (Although the threshold for Judicial Committee review having been apparently exceeded, this may be more of a symbolically supportive act, than a decisive one.)

IPR Readers opposed to this petition are encouraged to monitor statements from the Judicial Committee about how to most appropriately express their concerns (information about same to be provided in the Comments section below as soon as it’s received from the Judicial Committee.  IPR has reached out to Dr. Ruwart for comment.)

Submitted with the above Appeal were the following answers to a series of questions asked of Dr. Phillies by Judicial Committee Chair Dr. Mary Ruwart.  Dr. Ruwart’s questions are in bold.

What is the basis for the subject matter jurisdiction of the Committee?

The jurisdiction has two parts, namely

(i) the action is capable of repetition, yet evading review, and

(ii) the issues correspond to the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee under Article 7, Section 12 of the party’s bylaws, namely Section 7.12.d. voiding of National Committee decisions.

What is the ruling requested?

The requested rulings appear below, accompanying the specific issues in the petition.

What is the verifiable identity of the person or persons, affiliate, or party committee petitioning for the requested ruling (“petitioner(s)”).

I am speaking on behalf of 116 delegates to the last national convention. Appendix 3 gives their names and email addresses (NOTE: These have been redacted from this article.  Also, an examination by IPR of the names and emails showed 114 unique individuals (with 2 duplicates).

This list was checked against a list of credentialed delegates provided by Susan Hogarth.

What is the identity by individual name of any person, affiliate, or party committee that would be directly affected by the requested ruling?

The effect will rest primarily on the national party Chair, Whitney Bilyeu, who should therefore be the respondent if you decide to hear the case. There would also be an effect on those acting in the national party Chair’s place, and at one remove on Chairs and acting Chairs of Libertarian Party Committees and subcommittees.

At more length.

Basis for the subject matter jurisdiction:

(i) We cite the doctrine “action is capable of repetition, yet evading review”. We refer to events that have already taken place, but which can still be adjudicated despite the mootness doctrine. Libertarians will immediately recognize two issues that could only be brought to the Supreme Court because of this doctrine, namely abortion and ballot access. Assuredly, before an issue can reach the Supreme Court the unborn child will have been born and the votes will have been counted, but the cases may still advance. There will be other women wanting an abortion and other election ballots waiting to be filled.

The doctrine in question first appeared in the 1911 case of Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. Interstate Commerce Commission. (219 U.S. 498, 1911). Under modern conditions, beginning with Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393 (1975), the doctrine has two prerequisites:

(1) the challenged action is in its duration too short to be fully litigated prior to its cessation or expiration, and

(2) there is a reasonable expectation that the same complaining party would be subjected to the same action again.

Our petition points 1 – 5 refer to events at LNC meetings and National Conventions that have since adjourned, a process taking days, while gathering the requisite signatures for this appeal took months, so the action was too short to be litigated. Furthermore, appeals to experts in Robert’s leading to opinions that contradict our bylaws, and prolonged delays via appeals to Robert’s Rules of Order, are certainly actions that can be repeated. Therefore, the prerequisites for applying the doctrine are indeed satisfied.

With respect to the assertion that the doctrine refers to federal court cases, and is not binding on us, I would remind all parties that (i) the doctrine is highly reasonable and efficacious in promoting justice, and (ii) we regularly rely on the doctrine in our ballot access litigation, and might find it disadvantageous to have others note that we do not apply it in our own judicial processes.

Are we discussing decisions of the LNC?

First, some attention to the text of our bylaws is needed. Second, in several cases we are discussing LNC votes. First, our bylaws are well-worded:

In Sections 5.6, 6.7, 7.5, 7.8, 7.11, 7.13, 7.14, 7.15, 10.9, 11.6, 13, 14.4, 14.5, 15.1, 15.2, 17.1, and 17.2, where an actual vote is intended, the word “vote” is used.

In Article 11, namely 11.1, 11.2, 11.3c, 11.3.d, 11.4a, 11.4b, and 11.5, where the process for choosing person(s) for a multi-member group may become complicated, the verbs “select”, “appoint”, “choose” and “name” in various tenses are invoked, the exact process of determining committee members and officers not being specified.

In Sections 5.6, 7.5, and 7.12, actions of the Judicial Committee are described with the verbs “rule” and “veto”, the process the Judicial Committee follows being covered by Section 8.3 “…the Judicial Committee shall establish…”

With respect to the petition here, Section 7.12.d refers to “d. voiding of National Committee decisions”.

This use of “decisions” rather than “votes” is significant, and important for our party. The Libertarian National Committee is not only its 17 or 18 members assembled in a meeting, because its officers and subcommittees may have independent powers to make decisions. In particular, our bylaws, Section 6.3, provide in part

“…The Chair is the chief executive of the Party with full authority to direct its business and affairs…subject to express National Committee policies and directives…”

The Chair’s directives under 6.3 are as much decisions of the LNC as LNC votes are decisions. If they were not, then there would be no way for the membership to appeal a Chair’s decisions by taking him to the Judicial Committee. An LNC that wished to subvert the bylaws would merely need the connivance of the Chair. The Chair would make improper decisions, the LNC would vote to table any objections from within the LNC, and there would be no LNC decisions that were not by-laws compliant that could be appealed.

Is this subversion a mere hypothesis? There is a concrete case of an officer’s individual decision eventually reaching the Judicial Committee. Some years ago, the LNC Secretary claimed that LNC Member R. Lee Wrights’ dues were delinquent. The Secretary then claimed that due to said notice, Wrights had constructively resigned from the LNC without the LNC needing to take action to remove Wrights from the Committee. After much back and forth, Wrights was not removed.

Second, in some of the cases here, it could be proposed that the LNC has voted, namely it has voted to allow a person not a member, namely a Parliamentarian, to address the body, the vote being part of a bylaws-noncompliant decision.

Specific issues in the Appeal

Appeal Requests 1, 2, and 3

In an attachment to the https://groups.google.com/a/lp.org/g/lnc-business message Issue of vacancy, as posted on June 27, 2021 acting Chair Moellman posted claims from several experts in Robert’s Rules of Order, people he had consulted.

His cover memo read:

“Jun 26, 2021

“All –

“I hope you will take the time to read through this message and the attached information. It is my intent to be upfront with this board and our members.

“The issue of auto-ascension has been the topic of a number of conversations. Because I want to be sure to give the best ruling possible on this very important topic, I have sought professional opinions on the matter, and present those three opinions now.

“1. Richard Brown, our party’s go-to parliamentarian for the last few years. Pages 1 and 2 of the attached document contain his opinion and explanation.

“2. Thomas Balch, PRP, and current co-author of RONR. Mr. Balch has provided opinions to the national Libertarian Party and/or its leadership in the past. Pages 3-5 contain the only conversation I have ever had with Mr. Balch. Pages 6-9 contain his opinion and explanation. Pages 10-13 contain his bio and resume. (I later validated that we are, indeed, still incorporated in DC.)

“3. Dr. Atul K. Kapur, PRP, provided a verbal opinion that matches the opinions given by Mr. Brown and Mr. Balch. As such, I did not obtain a written opinion for financial reasons. He is listed in case any member wishes to know who was contacted.

“Please note that contact info that isn’t published on websites and street address information has been redacted in the attachment.”

Libertarian National Committee

The claims are in the attachment to this message. As part of Moellman’s decisions on the question of who becomes national chair, Moellman relied in part on sentences on page 7, final paragraph of the attachment. For clarity, within the petition I partitioned the relevant part of the offending paragraph into three parts:

a. “In adopting Robert’s as its Parliamentary authority, …”

b. “…the Libertarian Party bylaws incorporated that authority’s interpretation of the meaning and effect of language used in its bylaws provisions…”

c. “…Consequently, upon a vacancy in the office of Chair, the Vice Chair automatically assumed the office of Chair, in turn creating a vacancy…”

We now reach the petition itself, which in part reads

1. The Judicial Committee is asked to rule that the claim (b) above is false, because it allows the meaning of our bylaws to be changed by outside parties, in violation of the authority of the National Convention, and therefore may not be a basis for past or future LNC decisions.

2. The Judicial Committee is asked to rule that the claim (c) above is false, because it violates our bylaws Article 6 and 16, in that on this point Robert’s is inconsistent with our bylaws and is therefore inapplicable, and therefore may not be a basis for past or future LNC actions.

3. The Judicial Committee is asked to rule that the claim (a) above, which is widely invoked, is false as a violation of our bylaws Article 16, in that Robert’s is only applicable at points where it does not conflict with our bylaws, so therefore our own bylaws are the primary authority.

While the LNC voted to overrule Moellman’s ruling that he therefore became chair, the above points still represent three interpretational decisions. We are asking, as a matter for the record for future LNC actions, that the Judicial Committee rules that the claims in the above are false.

Appeal request 4 refers to a statement in Robert’s Rules of Order

“IV.21.Questions of Order and Appeal 21. Questions of Order and Appeal. A Question of Order takes precedence of the pending question out of which it arises; is in order when another has the floor, even interrupting a speech or the reading of a report; does not require a second; cannot be amended or have any other subsidiary motion applied to it; yields to privileged motions and the motion to lay on the table; and must be decided by the presiding officer without debate, unless in doubtful cases he submits the question to the assembly for decision, in which case it is debatable whenever an appeal would be. Before rendering his decision he may request the advice of persons of experience, which advice or opinion should usually be given sitting to avoid the appearance of debate. If the chair is still in doubt, he may submit the question to the assembly for its decision…”

Mr. Moellman in his cover memo states “The issue of auto-ascension has been the topic of a number of conversations. Because I want to be sure to give the best ruling possible on this very important topic, I have sought professional opinions on the matter, and present those three opinions now.”

We do not see where Mr. Moellman was asked for a ruling on the question of auto-ascension, but perhaps he asked himself. The clause in bold face appears to be the basis for Mr. Moellman’s request of several outside experts for their opinions. The outcome of the request was several opinions that clearly contradict our bylaws. The Appeal now requests:

Noting repeated use of persons familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order to generate opinions, the Judicial Committee is asked to rule, contrary to the decision of the former acting Chair and others, that the right of the Chair to refer questions to ‘persons of experience’ refers to persons experienced with us, namely persons who are long-term party members, have chaired our meetings or conventions, or sat on the Judicial Committee, and can if need be cite precedents.

The effect of the requested ruling would require that the Chair, if he cannot rule himself, and for some reason fails to invoke the clause in Robert’s “…unless in doubtful cases he submits the question to the assembly for decision, in which case it is debatable whenever an appeal would be…” limit himself to consulting long-time party members who are experienced in these issues.

Finally, we really are here to do political business. We therefore reach

Appeal Request 5

The Judicial Committee is asked to rule that the decision to allow prolonged parliamentary delays, as opposed to the Chair making an immediate decision or immediately asking the opinion of the body, is a violation of our bylaws, Article 2, in that it prevents carrying out the purposes of our party.

This appeal would not prevent the Chair from asking persons of experience within the party for their opinions. Of course, if the persons of experience are not members of the LNC, then as explained in Robert’s the LNC would need to pass a motion permitting the non-members to address the LNC. (This rule appears not to be observed reliably, as witness the introduction of the opinions of several Parliamentarians by acting Chair Moellman, without such a motion being passed.)

Note: The author of this article, Dr. Joseph G. Buchman, is one of the signatories to the Appeal The LNC Petition to the Judicial Committee of 18 November 2021.

This entry was posted in Libertarian Party and tagged , , on by .

About Joseph Buchman

Joe is a retired, formerly tenured professor of marketing and finance with an interest in adventure travel, chasing total solar eclipses, and Burning Man. He is a long-time volunteer with the Sundance Film Festival, former Chair of the Utah Libertarian Party and current Chair of the financial Audit Committee of the Libertarian Party. He and Cindy, his wife of over 25 years, have raised four highly successful children, several cats, and have generally failed with every houseplant ever gifted to them.

32 thoughts on “LP Judicial Committee Receives New Appeal, re – LNC Chair Vacancy: Are Bylaws > Robert’s

  1. Ted Brown

    Speaking as a former state chair from California, it seems obvious to me that party by-laws prevail over Robert’s. The Robert’s rules are meant to deal with issues not covered in our bylaws. The LNC was obviously tasked to elect a new chair when Joe B-H resigned. They will be doing the same to replace Caryn Ann H as secretary. Our bylaws don’t differentiate the different officer positions.

  2. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Ted,

    I agree. While there is something to be said for having a vice-chair ready to assume the chair’s duties automatically, similar to the role of Assistant Treasurer, the existing bylaws process – the LNC elects while the Vice-Chair fills in as Acting Chair, is perfectly clear and long established.

    Next, the absurd perceived need for, and wasteful discussions around LNC creation of an “Assistant Secretary” position, having been recently proven to be utterly unnecessary, will now also be abandoned.

    Additional hopes for a streamlined Convention voting process (one measured in a few minutes) seem a bit more remote, but now at least possible. Scantron forms seem to meet both bylaws paper requirements AND 19th, if not 20th century technology. I urge everyone with skills to offer whatever help they can to Chris Thrasher and the Convention Voting Committee.

    I see good times ahead for a Revitalized LP after Reno.

    IMO until recently there has been massive make-work system created designed to maximize self-proclaimed “heroic” status which has bordered, if not crossed into a Savior Complex.

  3. Seebeck

    (My apologies for the length.)

    I signed the petition because I felt the Chair’s ruling was incorrect and the position of the petition was correct. I also signed it as one of the LP’s Bylaws experts, having rewritten them in two states.

    Mr. Moellman did an excellent job under very trying circumstances, keeping a very level head in spite of everything that was going on. He should be publicly commended for that.

    But I believe this ruling was incorrect.

    Here’s why:

    Article 6, Section 1 of the Bylaws indicates that “The officers of the Party shall be: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer.” (bullets omitted for brevity)

    Article 6, Section 4 of the Bylaws indicates that the Vice-Chair “shall perform the duties of the Chair in the event that the Chair is, for any reason, unable to perform the duties of the office.”

    That includes the Chair resigning, since when they resign, they are unable to perform the duties of the office. This is a unique situation, placing the Vice Chair into a “Portfolio without Minister” position. (Those who know what “Minister without Portfolio” may get the inverse reference.)

    Article 6, Section 8 of the Bylaws states “The National Committee shall appoint new officers if vacancies occur, such officers to complete the term of the office vacated.”

    Article 7, Section 7 of the Bylaws states “The National Committee shall appoint new officers and members-at-large if vacancies occur, such officers and members-at-large to complete the term of the office vacated.”

    Article 16 of the 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. ” (emphasis added)

    RONR 47:28 states that the ascension of Vice Chair to Chair is automatic when the Chair resigns unless the Bylaws “expressly provide otherwise for filling a vacancy in the office of the Chair [President] (see also 56:32).”

    RONR 56:32 states that “If the Bylaws are silent as to the method of filling a vacancy in the specific case of the presidency, the vice president or first vice president automatically becomes president for the remainder of the term,”…

    Here’s where the disagreement comes in.

    For starters, Article 16 states that RONR applies where it doesn’t conflict with the Bylaws. By definition, there is no conflict with the Bylaws where the Bylaws are silent. (This is the crux of the due process argument regarding the suspension of the Secretary, which the both the LNC and the Judicial Committee erroneously ignored, but that’s a different discussion.) In that manner, RONR complements and supplements the Bylaws and any Special Rules of Order, but at a subordinate level. It does not replace or overrule them. But where those are silent, Robert’s Rules (please excuse the pun).

    But in this case, the problem with using RONR as cited, is that the citation directly conflicts with the Bylaws. The parliamentary authorities that Mr. Moellman consulted were deficient in their reasoning because they neglected to look at the full construct of the Bylaws. The full construct of the Bylaws lists the Chair as an Officer and also lists the ability of the LNC to fill vacancies for Officers by appointment, as noted above. The argument is that because the Chair was not explicitly listed in of itself regarding appointment of vacancy of that office, it falls to the language of RONR. However, the Chair is listed explicitly, but just not all in one place. It’s in three places, first as explicitly defined as an “Officer” in A6S1 and then included for vacancy appointments in A6S8 and A7S7. The parliamentary authorities seem to think that the Bylaws should be structured such that each officer, or at least the Chair, should have explicit individual terms for succession. That becomes wordy and subject to both inconsistency and error in construction (and the Bylaws are already loaded with those!), and the Bylaws are understandably not constructed that way. The parliamentary authorities also seem to think that RONR take precedent when the appropriate bylaws are not in one piece. That defies common sense because the way bylaws are structured can and often does preclude that possibility, as the Bylaws already do.

    But the explicitness of the situation is there when one pieces A6S1 with either A6S8 or A7S7. A6S4 also lends itself to this explanation, because if it was to be that the Vice Chair were to automatically become Chair upon the death, removal, or resignation of the Chair, then it would explicitly say so in that section. It does not, instead relying on A6S8 and A7S7 to have the LNC appoint a new Chair, with the Vice Chair acting as Chair, ” perform(ing) the duties of the Chair in the event that the Chair is, for any reason, unable to perform the duties of the office.” until such time as a new Chair is appointed or elected. If the Vice Chair was to automatically become the Chair, that clause would be worded differently to acknowledge that. But it isn’t.

    As such, upon Mr. Bishop-Henchman’s resignation as Chair, Mr. Moellman became Acting Chair until such time as the LNC appointed a new Chair or the Delegates at Convention elected a new Chair.

    The other problem is that citing individual parliamentary authorities comes with it an inherent bias against Bylaws and in favor of RONR. Of this, Mr. Balch has a history, and Mr. Brown, as respected as he is, including by yours truly, does the same. (I do not know Dr. Kapur to state if that is true for him.)

    But the opposite may also be true when citing Bylaws authorities, including yours truly. I would plead guilty to that, but being a process-oriented software and systems engineer in the non-political world, that’s how I think.

    I would also point out two principles of interpretation of Bylaws that are pointed out by RONR at 56:68.

    First, Item 4): “If the Bylaws authorize certain things specifically, other things of the same class are thereby prohibited.” Applied to the question of appointment vs ascension for vacancy of the Chair here, because the Bylaws specifically address appointment, then ascension, being of the same class of filling the vacancy of the Chair, is prohibited. That negates the RONR 47:28 and 56:32 arguments completely.

    Second, Item 3) “A general statement or rule is always of less authority than a specific statement or rule and yields to it.” Again, applied to the question of appointment vs ascension for vacancy of the Chair here, if the Bylaws addressed the Chair situation more specifically than what it does, then that language would control. But it does not exist, and silence is less specific than words. Also, RONR does not override the Bylaws; RONR only complements and supplements at a subordinate level. That subordination also negates the RONR 47:28 and 56:32 arguments completely.

    The bottom line is that Mr. Moellman became acting Chair upon the resignation of Mr. Bishop-Henchman.

    BUT…Mr. Moellman ruled that he became Chair, not acting Chair, when that happened. In doing so, he also ruled that the nature of the ascension made the Vice Chair position vacant and that the Bylaws applied to have the LNC appoint a new Vice Chair (not a Chair). The LNC appealed the ruling from the Chair and overruled, with the resulting vote elected Ms. Bilyeu as Chair. The rest, as we say, is bad history as Ms. Bilyeu has shown herself to be inept at running meetings, does not know parliamentary procedure or RONR, and cannot be impartial in proceedings.

    So, with all that said, let’s assume that I’m correct and that the ruling of the Chair is overturned, and that Mr. Moellman was in fact acting Chair and was not ascended to Chair automatically. Then what?

    Not much, really. If that occurs, then the motion to appeal from the ruling of the Chair is moot (and sustained) and the Chair is vacant, and the appointment vote of Ms. Bilyeu is valid, as are all subsequent motions and votes (subject to the normal processes and appeals). The effect would be to sustain the appeal from the Chair and overturn the ruling of the Chair and nothing more, except to settle the issue of the Bylaws vs. RONR.

    But what if the opposite occurs and my interpretation is wrong? Put another way, if RONR is ruled to be controlling on this, then what?

    Well, for starters, it means that the ruling of the Chair is sustained, Mr. Moellman did in fact ascend to Chair upon the resignation of Mr. Bishop-Henchman, the Vice Chair position is vacany by nature of the ascension, Ms. Bilyeu was not elected Chair by the LNC, and every decision and vote made under Ms. Bilyeu is subsequently invalid–including the suspension of the Secretary, and by extension, the improper upholding of that suspension by the Judicial Committee (the many errors in that decision are a different subject.). They would have to be redone individually.

    But it also means that the (IMO) improper precedent is set that RONR can override the Bylaws where the Bylaws are specific, and that’s a non-starter on many levels. The logical end of that is to not have any Bylaws or Party structure at all and rely only on RONR and be subject to endless games of parliamentary foozball that benefits only a select few at the expense of the general membership.

    If the Party stands up for anything, it is proper process as it is a foundation of protection of individual rights, both in the political and legal arenas. I signed on to this petition to GET IT RIGHT, regardless of my personal biases.

    We’ll see what happens.

  4. George Phillies

    Many problems would go away if Article 16 were replaced with something like

    Article 16 Meetings and Votes

    Meetings and votes shall be conducted in accord with the processes given in (your favorite rules book) except in cases where such processes contradict Party Bylaws or special rules of order.

    This gets Roberts or whatever out of everything except the familiar point of order etc. issues heard ad nauseum during National Conventions.

  5. Seebeck

    As an aside, I would also point out a major flaw in the Bylaws: The Officers listed are of the PARTY, not the LNC. It is very possible, as the Bylaws are now constructed, while having the Party Officers on the LNC, that the comparable roles on the LNC be filled by others. Correctly-written bylaws would explicitly make sure that the different hats are worn and when, or if desired, one subsumes the latter. That is currently not the case.

    This is further reinforced by Article 6, Section 5: “The Secretary shall attend all meetings of the National Committee and all Party conventions and shall act as Secretary thereof (of the LNC), keeping such minutes and records as necessary.” (emphasis added)

    The Party Secretary acts as LNC Secretary, but the latter is separate from the former.

    The Bill of Particulars of the suspension of the Secretary lists “suspended as the Secretary of the Libertarian National Committee for the following causes…” (emphasis added)

    NOT “suspended as the Secretary of the Libertarian Party for the following causes”

    The LNC motion of suspension was for the wrong position, and Ms. Harlos is still the Party Secretary as she was never suspended from THAT position–only from the position of LNC Secretary. And the LNC is NOT the LP.

    The Judicial Committee also incorrectly stated in its ruling “On September 5, 2021, the LNC voted to suspend Caryn Ann Harlos from her position as secretary of the Libertarian Party and of the LNC as its board.”

    This can either be a scrivener’s error or neglect; in either case, it’s incorrect.

    Bottom line: Ms. Harlos is still the Secretary of the Libertarian Party. She was suspended and removed, rightly or wrongly, from the position of Secretary of the Libertarian National Committee, which is a different position and a sub-entity of the Libertarian Party.

  6. Seebeck

    Something else to note: if RONR 56:32, which states that “If the Bylaws are silent as to the method of filling a vacancy in the specific case of the presidency, the vice president or first vice president automatically becomes president for the remainder of the term,”… is upheld as controlling, then it follows that the Bylaws are silent as to methods to filling the vacancy, and by extension, the Bylaws are silent as to the method of suspending the Secretary, (but not the vote threshold, which is a potential result of that method) and from that, the Secretary’s due process argument in her suspension appeal is both valid and proper grounds to overturn the suspension, with the Judicial Committee’s ruling being in error.

  7. Seebeck

    Many problems would go away if Article 16 were replaced with something like

    Article 16 Meetings and Votes

    Meetings and votes shall be conducted in accord with the processes given in (your favorite rules book) except in cases where such processes contradict Party Bylaws or special rules of order.

    This gets Roberts or whatever out of everything except the familiar point of order etc. issues heard ad nauseum during National Conventions.

    No, that would be equivalent of granting the fox the keys to the henhouse, because “your favorite rulebook” could be the LNC Policy Manual, amendable only by…the LNC.

    No thanks.

  8. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Seebeck @ November 19, 2021 at 20:53,

    Fascinating. Does your position that the LP Secretary and LNC Secretary can be two different individuals serving in those positions at the same time, also apply to the Treasurer, Chair and Vice-Chair?

    Can there be one individual who is LP Treasurer and another who is LNC Treasurer, for example?

    Another way of asking this question is: What is the most accurate title for Ms. Bilyeu right now? Chair of the Libertarian Party or Chair of the LNC?

    No need to apologize for the length of your prior comment; I found it well-reasoned and fascinating.

    Joe

  9. Gail K Lightfoot

    It is my considered opinion that LP Bylaws and history [tradition, if you will] always take precedence over Robert’s Rules.
    I believe the election of a Chair should take place at a duly called convention of Delegates from the LP Affiliates, not the National Cmt [LNC].
    Simple, straightforward and Libertarian.
    gail lightfoot
    Charter LP/LPC Member [1972], LPC Candidate for U.S. Senate, [2016, 2012,2010, 2004, 2000], Secretary of State [1998, 2002, 2006, 2018] and U.S. Congress [2014, 1996, 1990, 1986, 1984]
    LPC Regional Chair East San Gabriel 1980-1987, LPC Sec 1989, LPC Chair 1990, LPC So.Vice Chair 1993-4, LPC Chair 1995-6, Member LPC Judicial Cmt. Chair of LPC Judicial Cmt, San Luis Obispo LP CCC Chair [2010-2020].

  10. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Gail K Lightfoot @ November 20, 2021 at 11:55

    The Delegates in Convention have granted the authority to the LNC to replace members who resign, or die.

    If they did not have that authority, then what should happen when a chair resigns or dies?

    Emergency Convention? Position left unfilled?

    What if it is the Treasurer?

  11. George Phillies

    “your favorite rulebook”
    I should have spelled out…OK, it clearly was not obvious…that the actual Bylaw would replace the above with “Francis and Francis”, “Roberts” “Mason” or some other concrete words.
    Otherwise we have different favorites, so at the same meeting we would ahve different rules of order.

  12. Joseph Buchman Post author

    George Phillies @ November 20, 2021 at 13:23

    I agree and add only my impression that when the written rules and process for conducting a meeting cannot possibly be understood by a reasonably diligent delegate – we have violated our own Principles regarding both exemplifying how we expect (demand) our governments to operate, and Liberty itself.

    Our Conventions become abusive circuses where the “Priesthood Class” of those who have attempted (at least) to master Robert’s over a period of years (or lifetimes) gain power over the less informed (which includes yours truly to be sure).

    Part of that then becomes (it seems to me) a process of building barriers to entry so that the Robert’s skilled adepts can gain power over those who do not have equivalent time to master the far arcane corners of the rules, or who are disinclined to do so because . . . well, it seems un-libertarian.

    Liberty and the Priesthood Class of closely held information keepers are seldom seen in a working relationship. Or so it seems to me.

    What do you think of this as an alternative?

    Simplified Rules of Order

    Seems a group of psychiatrists might have some insight into how to make human behavior work.

  13. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Ken Moellman @ November 20, 2021 at 09:05 wrote:

    “Read the convention minutes from Convention 2008; specifically the bylaws committee report and the amendment made to what is now Article 16. Page 5 at https://www.lp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/2008-National-Convention-0508-rev.pdf

    Ken, I read all of Page 5 “Parliamentary Authority” but fail to see your point. Thanks for the link though because more interesting is this on page 16:

    “6. The National Committee shall appoint new officers and members-at-large if vacancies occur,
    such officers and members-at-large to complete the term of the office vacated.

    “This measure passed”

    Nothing in there about auto-ascension that I can find.

    What am I missing?

    Joe

    2008 LP Convention Minutes

  14. Ken Moellman

    On pages 5 and 6, read the whole thing. Then re-read the second footnote again.

    Then read RONR on auto-ascension.

    Then re-read the second footnote again.

    Then read the section about filling vacancies in Article 6.

    Walking through it…

    Footnote 2 from the 2008 Convention minutes on the amendment to what is now Article 16 specifically calls out how the interaction between RONR and bylaws occurs: “the current edition of a specified and generally accepted manual of parliamentary law shall be the organization’s parliamentary authority, and THEN to adopt only such special rules of order as it find needed to supplement or modify rules contained in that manual.”

    RONR 2:18: “When a society or an assembly has adopted a particular parliamentary manual — such as this book — as its authority, the rules contained in that manual are binding upon it in all cases where they are not inconsistent with the bylaws…”

    RONR 47:28: “In case of the president’s resignation, death, or removal, the vice-president automatically becomes president for the remainder of the term, unless the bylaws EXPRESSLY provide otherwise for filling a vacancy in the office of president (see also 56:32).”

    RONR 56:32: “If the bylaws are silent as to the method of filling a vacancy in the specific case of the presidency, the vice-president or first vice-president automatically becomes president for the remainder of the term, and the vacancy to be filled arises in the vice-presidency or lowest-ranking vice-presidency; if another method of filling a vacancy in the presidency is desired, it must be prescribed and SPECIFIED AS APPLYING TO THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT IN PARTICULAR.”

    Article 6, Section 8, states, “The National Committee shall appoint new officers if vacancies occur, such officers to complete the term of the office vacated.” (No explicit call-out of a vacancy at chair, as compared to LPCA’s bylaws which do specifically call it out, for instance.)

    The end.

    (Also, a ruling of the Chair in a meeting is not a decision of the LNC.)

  15. Seebeck

    @Joe Buchmann:

    Does your position that the LP Secretary and LNC Secretary can be two different individuals serving in those positions at the same time, also apply to the Treasurer, Chair and Vice-Chair?

    Yes. Different positions (hats) can be different persons.

    As an example, in 2010, I was the LPCA Delegation whip and then elected Delegation Chair by the Delegates while LPCA Vice-Chair, but under LPCA Bylaws at the time, the Delegation Chair was the State Chair or his designee, but he had to leave on a family emergency. Different persons and different hats.

    Can there be one individual who is LP Treasurer and another who is LNC Treasurer, for example?

    Also yes. I believer that is the case until such time as the Bylaws are corrected to cleanly differentiate between the two, or the former subsumes the latter.

    Frankly, IMO, the Secretary and Treasurer should be hired administrative and not elected positions, but that’s a different discussion into fixing the broken LNC system.

    Another way of asking this question is: What is the most accurate title for Ms. Bilyeu right now? Chair of the Libertarian Party or Chair of the LNC?

    That’s a loaded question, but my personal biases aside, technically Chair of the LP. Again, for the same reasons as above, and common misconflation of the two positions. The Bylaws indicate in Article 6 Section 3 that “The Chair shall preside at all conventions and all meetings of the National Committee. The Chair is the chief executive officer of the Party with full authority to direct its business and affairs”, which to me indicates that they’re two separate positions as well.

    The national Bylaws simply suck on properly delineating roles and responsibilities between groups.

  16. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Thanks for the detailed response. Surely the delegates, and delegate intent, did not involve ballots for elections to 8 officer positions (chair, vice-chair, secretary, treasurer X 2, LNC and LP) at any convention, ever, except, perhaps in the minds of those with the hardest of core RONR-parliamentarian orientations.

    Hopefully the bylaws folks (Dan Fishman, Tim Hagan, Richard Longstreth, Ken Moellman, Chuck Moulton, Omar Recuero, Valerie Sarwark, Steve Scheetz, David Sexton, and Victoria Paige Sexton) are following IPR.

    Seebeck @ November 20, 2021 at 18:15 wrote: “@Joe Buchmann:”

    Thanks for adding back the second N.

    My ancestor Jacob Buchmann apparently dropped it somewhere into the Atlantic, over the rail of the ship Phoenix, after sailing from Rotterdam. He left Saint Gallen with the double n, but arrived on 28 August 1750 into Philadelphia with only one. Upon arrival he and his kin were (accurately) described by Benjamin Franklin as, “foul-smelling, dark-skinned, savages who refuse to learn English.” Proud, I am, to be descended from that sort of folk.

  17. ATBAFT

    1) How did LNC handle the several Chair resignations in the past?
    2) How do the old parties handle the distinction, if any, between chair of RNC and chair of the GOP or chair of DNC and chair of the Democrat Party?

  18. Seebeck

    Sorry about the second “n” if that was an issue, unintentional on my part. I had no idea about that family history.

    I have zero confidence in the Bylaws Committee, because they have, over the years, proposed a LOT of nonsense and haven’t ever addressed the fundamental problems of the structure and consistent wording of the Bylaws. With the exception of Mr. Moellman, they’re out of their league. IMO.

    The disparity between LNC and LP Officers is easily cleaned up with one sentence, but I doubt they have the understanding of what that sentence is.

    The LNC really needs an HR professional and an organizational structure expert.

  19. A

    Ken’s argument would require that the word “officers”–explicitly defined elsewhere in the Bylaws as referring to the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer–must everywhere else refer to those four people, except for this one place where it somehow only means the Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer.

    That is absurd and requires reading the Bylaws to not say what they very plainly do say.

    Article 6, Section 1:
    The officers of the Party shall be:
    o Chair,
    o Vice-Chair,
    o Secretary, and
    o Treasurer.

    Article 6, Section 8:
    The National Committee shall appoint new officers if vacancies occur, such officers to complete
    the term of the office vacated.

  20. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Seebeck @ November 21, 2021 at 13:36 wrote:

    “Sorry about the second “n” ”

    Not at all; I’ve been thinking about bringing it back. Because:

    https://www.buchmann-weine.ch

    I’d order a case, but it’s illegal to get any mail order alcohol in Utah. Utah crazy state law is also why most California wineries do not even try to ship wine east.

  21. Seebeck

    It should be noted now that in light of the LNC’s just-completed LPDE fiasco, the legitimacy of the LNC Chair is even more essential to be resolved.

  22. A

    Short version is the LNC came just barely one vote short of ordering a state affiliate to replace its officers and change its bylaws to suit the demands of the Mises Caucus.

  23. Joseph Buchman Post author

    A @ November 22, 2021 at 08:51

    wrote

    “Short version is the LNC … ordering ”

    They can order pizza for lunch, but as a creation of the affiliates, and not their creator, I’m not sure they can order much else. I suppose they can threaten disaffiliation (and lose ballot access in that state) or else, but it’s a high price to pay, yes?

  24. Ken Moellman

    @A… Yes, that is my interpretation because that’s how it actually works, as agreed upon by multiple parliamentarians including an RONR author. The path to that interpretation is outlined in my comment from 11/20 @ 15:12. Certainly multiple other organizations also define their officers; we’re not the only ones to do that.

    This provision only applies to the issue of a vacancy at chair, and the fix is to include two words: “including chair”. This isn’t hard to fix, at all.

    Why is this provision here? I don’t know. I assume to avoid becoming a headless organization, but I actually don’t know. And honestly, I don’t even care; other than the idiots who claim it was some type of power-move. I didn’t want to become chair, asked the LNC to overturn the ruling, and didn’t seek the office. I’m not even running for LNC again. But for some reason, we apparently need the JC to weigh in even though this could be easily resolved with two words, in convention, by the delegates, and since this has happened only 3 times in 50 years it’s unlikely to happen again before our next convention.

  25. D. Frank Robinson

    I will move to dismiss this action. This matter can best be resolved by the delegates in convention.

  26. A

    “officers including chair” is pointlessly redundant. It’s like saying “fruits including apples.” RONR might prefer such formulation, but RONR can’t and doesn’t require the Bylaws to use that exact phrasing to say the same thing or else it’s invalid. The Bylaws can define and then use terms however they want.

  27. A

    I don’t think Ken wanted to adopt this wrong interpretation in order to become chair. But it was still a wrong interpretation that requires reading the Bylaws to not say what they very plainly do say. Sincerely incorrect is still incorrect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *