Group of businessmen/women. Women raising hand. Appealing ruling by the chair. Parliamentary procedure.

How to Appeal a Ruling by the Chair

This is a quick guide on how to use the motion to Appeal.

The Skinny

  • What motion should you use to question the ruling of the Chair?
    Use the motion called Appeal.
  • What should you say?
    Say this: “I appeal the decision of the Chair.”
  • When can you make this motion?
    You can make this motion as long as you make it immediately after the Chair’s ruling that you are appealing and as long as none of the following motions are on the floor: Raise a Question of Privilege, Call for the Orders of the Day, Recess, Adjourn, Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn.
  • Can you interrupt another speaker to make this motion?
  • Does someone have to say, “Second” after this motion is proposed?
  • Can people debate the pros and cons of this motion?
    Yes, this motion is debatable except for the following circumstances:

    • The motion to Appeal may not be debated if it relates to indecorum, to a violation of speaking rules, or to the priority of business.
    • The motion to Appeal may not be debated if it is made when an undebatable motion is immediately pending or involved in the decision that is being appealed.
  • How many votes does this motion need to pass?
    Majority. A majority of those present and voting or a tie vote upholds the decision of the Chair that is being appealed.

An Example

  • Member A makes the following main motion: “I move that we sponsor a golf tournament and give the funds to the Red Cross and a local homeless shelter.”
  • Member B says, “Second.”
  • The Chair repeats the motion and asks for discussion.
  • Member C makes the following amendment to the main motion: “I move to amend by adding “and that we embark on a new capital campaign next year to raise funds for a new wing to headquarters.”
  • The Chair says, “Thank you, Member C. That motion is not in order at this time because it is not germane to the main motion.”
  • Member C, upset that his amendment has been ruled out of order, says, “I appeal the decision of the Chair.”
  • Member D says, “Second.”
  • The Chair repeats the appeal and explains the rationale for his ruling against it. He then asks if there is any discussion on the appeal.
  • Following comments from the members, the Chair again explains his ruling and then takes a vote on the appeal by asking, “Shall the decision of the Chair be sustained?”
  • If a majority of the members present and voting vote in the affirmative (to sustain the decision of the Chair), then the Chair’s decision is upheld. If a majority of the members vote in the negative (against sustaining the decision of the Chair), then the Chair’s decision is overruled.

What the Pros Know

  • The motion to Appeal is most often used to question the ruling of the Chair on a point of order, but it can be used to question any ruling by the Chair.
  • An appeal is not allowed when the Chair rules on a question “about which there cannot possibly be two reasonable opinions” (Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised).
  • An appeal applies only to a ruling of the Chair, not to the Chair’s response to a parliamentary inquiry or a request for information, or to the Chair’s announcement of the result of a vote.
  • Unlike other motions, each member can speak only once on the motion to Appeal, but the Chair is allowed to speak twice—once at the beginning of the discussion and once at the end—for purposes of defending his ruling.

Where to Learn More