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ORDER OF DEBATE.
200. When is it in order to rise and speak on a motion^ or proposition?
As a motion, or proposition is not fairly before a deliberative assembly, until moved, seconded, and stated from the chair, it is never in order to rise and speak on it, until it has thus formally been introduced.
201. May the President engage in the debate?
It being plainly incompatible with a due discharge of his appropriate duties for the President, as a general thing, to take part in the debates, he is not allowed to do so, except in cases growing out of, or naturally belonging to his official position. Thus, he may, and ought, when desirable, to explain points of order; he may give information of facts bearing upon the business under deliberation; and, in the event of an appeal from his decision on questions of order, he is free to engage in any debate thereupon.
When, however, the presiding officer does rise to speak, he is entitled to be heard even before a member who may be already on the floor. In such case, the member standing should take his seat, till the President has finished.
202. Gan a member once fairly in possession of the floor, be refused a hearing?
He that fairly gets the floor, is fully entitled to be heard. He cannot be interrupted by a call for adjournment, or for the orders of the day, or for the question; for this is not making a regular motion. "Such calls are themselves," says Jefferson, "breaches of order."
203. In case of a dispute, or of conflicting claims to the floor, who is to decide?
If several members rise and address the chair at once, or nearly at once, the President is to grant the precedence to him whose voice is first heard. But it is competent for any member to question this decision, and to ask a vote of the assembly thereupon. In case of a vote, the question is first taken on the claim of the member, in whose favor the President has decided.
204. Is it ever in order to interrupt a member when speaking on a subject before the house?
It is never in order, as a general rule, to interrupt a member while addressing the house, except by a call to order ;* that is, he cannot rightfully be interrupted in his speech by a member rising and proposing to
* It is, in some assemblies, allowable for a member to interrupt a speaker in order to make an explanation.
adjourn, or making any other like privileged motion*
Yet this rule is not to be so construed or interpreted as to preclude all possible cases or contingences, for such a construction of it would sometimes work greater mischief than that which it is intended to prevent. Thus, cases may arise, in which it may be of the highest moment to interrupt a speaker, in order to announce facts or information of immediate and pressing interest or necessity.
The whole aim of the rule is to secure a member who has the floor, and is speaking, from all wanton or abusive interruption, as long as he himself observes the rules of order and the decencies of debate.
205. Does a call to order prevent a speaker from finishing his speech?
When the question raised by a call to order has been decided, the speaker is still in possession of his right to proceed; nor can he be arrested, as before said, even by a motion to adjourn. His right is to a full hearing.
There are some deliberative bodies, in which a rule is laid down, fixing the limits in respect to time, within which every speaker is to be confined. But, even where no such rule exists, a tedious or offensive speaker, though his right to proceed is not questioned, is generally made, by certain indications of impatience in the audience, to see the propriety of closing his speech.
* Sometimes, in order to hasten the decision of a question some member will call out—Question I Question I even while a speaker is on the floor. This is usually regarded as the greatest rudeness; though often resorted to in order to get rid of a tiresome speaker.
206. Is a speaker who, for some special purpose, voluntarily yields the floor in favor of another, entitled as soon as the object of the interruption is gained, to go on with his speech?
As a matter of favor, or concession, but not as a matter of right, a speaker who temporarily yields the floor in favor of another, is generally permitted, immediately after the interruption, to resume his remarks. If the privilege be denied, he cannot claim it as a right.
207. Does a person speaking in a deliberative assembly, address himself formally to the assembly, or to the presiding officer?
Whenever a member of a deliberative assembly proposes to speak upon a matter in debate, he is expected to rise in his place, with head uncovered, and address himself, inform, directly to the presiding officer: saying, "Mr. President, Mr. Chairman," or whatever else may be his title in the body. Thereupon the President addresses the speaker by name, and so introduces and commends him to the attention of the meeting.
208. When a member is speaking, is it in order to designate other members to whom he wishes to refer, by their names f
It is not in order, neither is it considered in good taste, in debate, for a speaker to designate other members by their names: the modes of expression for this purpose being,—" The gentleman who has just taken his seat,11 or, " The member on the other side of the house,11 or, "The last speaker but one,11 or some other like indication.
209. What restriction, if any, is a speaker under in regard to the mode of discussing a subject?
Every speaker is bound to confine himself to the question. This is the common and necessary rule. But it must be liberally interpreted, and never, under color of cutting off digressions, be made to hinder a full and free expression of sentiment.
210. Under what restrictions, if any, is a speaker, in relation to his mode of treating other members engaged in the debate?
Every speaker is bound to avoid personalities; that is, he is not to use harsh, reviling, or unmannerly words of any kind in relation to others engaged in the debate; but to exercise, in all respects, a courteous and gentlemanly deportment: principles and measures, not the character and motives of those who advocate them, being the proper subject of animadversion and reprobation.
211. Under what restriction, if any, is a speaker in respect to his mode of treating the resolves, or other proceedings of the assembly?
Every speaker is bound to refrain from the use of reproachful or indecent language in regard to the previous acts, or decisions of the assembly, or any of its committees. He may, however, offer and support a motion to rescind any act or resolution of the body, and in so doing, indulge in the language of invective or reprobation, so long as he violates not the rules of debate.