Vox Populi
A Letter to the Editor

Further continuing the discussion
on GOP Rules

Monday, April 4, 2016

by Virgilio Pérez Pascoe

[EDITOR's NOTE: This is in response to the chain of vox Populi submissions which can be accessed from here]

The Rules of the Republican Party as adopted by the 2012 Republican Convention on August 27, 2012 and its amendments are in force until the new rules are approved in the National Convention in Cleveland. Rule 12 does say that rules 1-11 and 13-25 can be modified, but it places a very high bar for these amendments to come into force: it requires a majority vote by the Standing Committee on Rules after being submitted 10 days in advance, then must be voted on by 3/4 of the entire membership of the Republican National Committee, so despite Mr. Lukasiak's statement that "these makes the permanent rules the most temporary of all...," in practice, it is not that easy these rules can be made temporary.

The term of office of the National Committee members, according to Rule 3, is "...from the adjournment of the national convention [in this case, 2012, my note], until the adjournment of the following national convention, and until their successors shall have been elected and ratified." The Republican National Committee "shall have the general management of the Republican Party, based upon the rules adopted by the Republican National Convention" (Rule 1). Rule 5 specifies who are the officers of the Republican National Committee. There is an Executive Committee of 29 members of the Republican National Committee (Rule 6), and it can "exercise all of the executive and administrative functions of the Republican National Committee between (my emphasis), meetings of the Republican National Committee..." The Executive committee, however, cannot elect officers of the Republican National Committee, cannot ratify the election of members of the RNC, cannot issue the Call for a National Convention nor select the time and place and cannot fill a vacancy for either the office of candidate for the Presidency of the US, or for the Vice-presidency.

The Standing Committees of the RNC (Rule 10) are:

  • Rules. There are time constraints provided for proper deliberations of any changes to the rules.
  • Resolutions: Also with time constraints for considerations. This Standing Committee reports without amendments for consideration of the RNC in toto.
  • Budget
  • Site Selection for Convention
  • Arrangement to plan and manage the next Convention—with appointment at a specific period of time prior to the next convention.
  • Call for Convention. This is appointed after the Rules committee, and that of Arrangements.
  • Contests (for dispute resolution) following Rule 24. This committee is also appointed after Rules and after Arrangements.
  • Presidential Debates
  • There are other standing committees, Chairmen’s Advisory Committee, Finance Committee (fund-raising), or any other committee at the discretion of the National Chairman.

All of these committees are under the direction, control and supervision of the Republican National Committee.

There is also a temporary Commission on Convention Planning (security, calendar, program and site selection advisory supporting the Site Selection Convention).

The Call for this Convention presented at the end of November of 2015 begins by presenting the Rules starting with Rule 13, presumably because from there to Rule 42, there are modifications. The process for Rules 13 to 25 included the 75% approval of the entire RNC membership. Those beyond 26 to 42, do not include this high bar, but were approved in the prior Convention or at the meetings of the RNC in the interim, or there may be changes suggested prior to the convention in Cleveland, and not necessarily included in the Call.

The implication is that Rules 1-12 are, at the very least, more permanent than the rest, and that the 13 to 25 require a stricter criterion for consideration than the temporary rules as specified in Rule 42.

From this, I gather that the implication that there are some inconsistencies in the permanence vs. temporary nature of the rules is probably not totally accurate.

Further, there is a very specific order for the agenda at the Convention. And there are time constraints as to when these items need to be presented to the Convention (and read, and what constitutes, "reading,").

So, seating of convention delegates is first item, to do this, a report of Convention Committee on Credentials is read; after this, the report on the Convention (not the Standing, as Mr. Berg-Andersson reminds us) committee on Rules, then the report on the Convention Committee on Order of Business, then the report on the Committee on Platform and, finally, then we get to the nominations. There is a Convention Committee on Permanent Organization and that is left up to the discretion of the Committee on Order of Business, but it must occur between Credentials and nominations. (Rule 27). Again, this shows that there are some nods to permanency here.

Mr. Lukasiak corrected me when I expressed there needs to be a majority of the delegates of 8 different states, by saying, that this does not mean, it is necessarily the delegates that were elected in those same states at their Convention/Caucus or Primary (at least, that is how I understood him) that commit to a particular candidate which will be seated, and, if this is the case, then their commitment could change. The implication being, that these could change due to contesting of delegates, or not passing muster in the Convention Committee on Credentials. I concede the point, but cautioning that this, in general, has to happen according to the Rules already set either in the Call, or by the reports by the Standing Committees reports on Rules. The Convention Credentials committee is bound by the Rules of the Republican Party approved in 2012 and its amendments prior to this Convention, simply by the order specified in the agenda.

So, while I do think there is ample opportunity for mayhem this Convention, there are clear rules, and clear procedures-- the only event I could see where time may be of the essence is, if there are a large number of contests to process and procedures in the State conventions, or the state primaries, or caucus.

A few weeks ago, I was relatively sure that the 1237 delegate bar was going to be surpassed no later than June 6. Now, it appears, there is still the numerical possibility that this may not happen. And, yes, there is some discretion with the at-large delegates, which I calculate to be 29% of the total number of delegates (but this is looking at total numbers, and there may be nuances at each jurisdiction that may restrict this number).

But it is not the case that all delegates are free to vote their own mind from the outset. There are restrictions and there are ways of controlling delegations that wish to change these processes. Yes, the Rules can be changed, but not all of them, and, in general, this Convention might see a spirited debate at the Convention Credentials Committee which is normal, but, now, this time also at the Convention Rules Committee, and maybe even at the Convention Committee on Permanent Organization which has not been the case, as much, in the recent past.

So, this might not be just a celebration and a coronation of the Republican standard bearers.

Virgilio Pérez Pascoe
Cumming, GA

Mr. Berg-Andersson responds:

Specifically re: Republican Party Rule 27, I'm wondering if one of the rules changes possibly to be considered by the Convention in Cleveland might be to actually change the Order of Business- specifically, going to the Presidential Nominations before considering the Party Platform (since, or so I would think, you would have to have Credentials first [so that the delegates are already "permanently seated"] in any event, followed by Rules and Permanent Organization [or vice versa] before anything else) if it appears that a multi-ballot presidential nominating procedure on the floor of the Convention might well be seen to be in the offing.

I wonder this as regards a case where- due to a lengthy period of time so devoted to the presidential nomination after everything else (including the Party Platform)- the Convention might otherwise possibly then go on beyond the currently scheduled adjournment [sine die] date of Thursday 21 July into Friday the 22nd (or, perhaps, even further on into the ensuing weekend); perhaps, dealing with the GOP Presidential Nomination "ahead of time" (not necessarily that unusual: I still recall the so-called 'Rolling Roll Call' at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia [which, obviously, necessitated at least some shift in Convention scheduling]) might well mitigate this possibility (that is: the Convention running "over" by a day or more), as the Party Platform might be able to more efficiently (even more quickly) be dealt with once the GOP presidential (as well as, perhaps, even the vice-presidential) nominee is already known ...

anyhow, just a thought!


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