Judicial Council Decisions Search
Decision No. 373
November 09 1973
In Re: Ruling of the Reverend Ignacio P. Bautista, President Pro Tempore, 1973 Session of the Philippines Annual Conference, on Action Approving Full Autonomy without Reconsidering Actions of Previous Sessions of the Annual Conference Approving Affiliated Autonomy.
Digest of Case
A motion to reconsider is applicable at the same session of an Annual Conference and cannot be applied to later sessions which are in fact different bodies. Even at the same session of an Annual Conference, a motion to reconsider, in the absence of clear language to the contrary in the Rules of Order and Procedure, is in order only on the same day or the next succeeding day after the original vote was taken (not counting a legal holiday or a day on which no business meeting is held). Therefore, a motion on a subject not previously considered at the particular session was properly made without moving to reconsider.
Statement of Facts
On May 18, 1973, during its sixty-third session, the Philippines Annual Conference voted with a margin of seven votes for full autonomy. This action was taken without reconsidering an action renewed in Annual Conference Sessions from 1966 through 1972, namely, voting for affiliated autonomy. Next day, May 19, 1973, the Chair was requested to rule on the legality of the action taken the day before. Applying Rule 16 of the "Rules of Order and Procedure of the Philippines Annual Conference" (1972 Journal, page 223), the Chairman ruled the vote for full autonomy null and void. The said rule reads in part, "when any motion or resolution shall have been enacted upon by the Conference, it shall be in order for any member who voted with the prevailing side to move a reconsideration." Rev. Bautista ruled that the vote having been made without first having reconsidered its standing action for affiliated autonomy as required by Rule 16 was null and void. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1512 of the 1972 Discipline. ANALYSIS Among the rights granted by the General Conference to an Annual Conference is the right to "adopt rules and regulations not in conflict with the Discipline of The United Methodist Church," (Paragraph 662, 1972 Discipline), so that Rule 16 of the said conference, or any interpretation thereof, is valid to the extent that it does not violate United Methodist Discipline. Motions to reconsider have as their purpose to allow persons who have acted upon a motion to change their mind. It is for this reason that Robert's Rules of Order requires that the person making the motion to reconsider must have voted with the majority. It is to be noted that Robert's Rules clearly states, "It can be made only on the day the vote to be reconsidered was taken, or on the next succeeding day . . ." It would appear that Rule 16 of the Rules of Order and Procedure of the Philippines Annual Conference was intended to have a similar effect and similar application to the motion to reconsider as outlined in Robert's Rules of Order. Were a different intent intended, it should be clearly spelled out. It is significant that the Philippines Annual Conference has over the years reconsidered the question of affiliated autonomy and it does not appear that each time the question was considered a prior motion to reconsider the subject was made. Inasmuch as the necessity for reconsideration of the vote taken at the 1972 Session of the Philippines Annual Conference was applicable to that session only, it was not of binding effect on a succeeding session and would have been out of order in the 1973 Session. The 1973 Session had full right to determine its agenda; and the action to reverse a previous vote on autonomy without reconsideration was legal and parliamentary. Attention is called to the fact that there were two avenues to deal with the questions raised herein that perhaps would have been more appropriate. A Judicial Court has been established in the Philippines Central Conference pursuant to Paragraph 30.6 of the Discipline. It would have been appropriate to have submitted this question for its ruling. Another possible resolution might have been for an appeal to have been taken from the chair's decision.
It is the decision of the Judicial Council that the Rule 16 of the Rules of Order and Procedure of the Philippines Annual Conference was not applicable to the motion for full autonomy made on May 18, 1973. Therefore, the ruling of Rev. Ignacia P. Bautista, President Pro Tempore, was incorrect and the action taken by the Philippines Annual Conference was in order. The ruling of President Pro Tempore Ignacio P. Bautista is reversed.