Robert's Rules for Objecting to Consideration of the Question - dummies

Robert’s Rules for Objecting to Consideration of the Question

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP, PRP

If you think a motion is such a bad idea that it shouldn’t even be discussed, according to Robert’s Rules, you can make a motion to object to the consideration of the question. This incidental motion is in order until the chair states the motion and consideration begins. After discussion begins, it’s too late, no matter how lousy the idea.

An example is the best way to illustrate the utility of the motion to object to the consideration of the question: Neffy Neverstops shows up at every meeting making the same motion that gets argued and finally voted down. Every meeting, she persists in introducing her motion, trying to get the group to do something it just doesn’t want to do and isn’t likely to want to do anytime soon.

To use object to the consideration against Neffy’s motion, get to your feet quickly (hopefully as soon as the undesirable motion rolls over Neffy’s lips) and say, “Madam Chairman, I object to the consideration of the question.”

Because this motion decides whether to summarily dismiss a motion without consideration, it doesn’t even need a second. The chair just responds with, “The member objects to the consideration of the motion. All in favor of considering the motion will rise. [pause] Opposed rise. There are two-thirds opposed to considering the motion and it will not be considered.” It’s all over for Neffy’s motion.

An objection to the consideration of the question

  • Can interrupt a speaker who has the floor (until debate has begun on the motion to which it is applied).

  • Doesn’t need to be seconded.

  • Isn’t debatable.

  • Can’t be amended.

  • Requires a two-thirds vote against consideration to sustain the objection.

  • Can be reconsidered only if the objection is sustained.

Finely tuned quick-draw skills help you out any time you need to object to the consideration of a question. If, for some reason, you need to apply this motion to a subsidiary motion (such as may happen if there’s a motion you really want to discuss and you think that Neffy’s attempt to postpone or refer it to a committee for the third or fourth time is just a way to delay), you have to be even faster, because it’s too late to object to consideration of a subsidiary motion after the motion has been stated by the chair.

If the chair has a good sense of members’ limits when it comes to likely intolerance for some motions, she may want to offer (on her own initiative) an opportunity for members to object by saying, “It is the sense of the chair that the consideration of this question may have objection. Shall the motion be placed before you for your consideration?”

If a motion is outside the scope of the purposes of the organization, is in conflict with the bylaws, or is otherwise deemed out of order to be considered, then object to the consideration of the question is itself out of order. When this incidental motion is used incorrectly in this manner, it should just be treated as a point of order, with the chair ruling the motion objected to as out of order.