Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised is one of the most popular parliamentary authorities in the English-speaking world, and is the latest manifestation of of a book that has been around for more than 130 years. Since the beginning, the authors have received questions from readers about circumstances not quite covered in the book, and have attempted to answer them in an unofficial way. The authors of the 10th and most recent edition have taken this one step further with the publication of their official interpretations of RONR.
These twenty-one interpretations, numbered 2006-01 through 2006-21, cover a wide variety of topics. The first interpretation discusses the normative status of the interpretations themselves, but the rest cover substantive questions of proper parliamentary procedure. While many seem straightforward, all were included in the list for one reason or another. The primary motivation for the publication of these interpretations was the authors’ desire to clear up what they perceived to be confusion among parliamentarians and other readers of their work.
When the interpretations were first published, some of them were controversial—which was not unexpected, as they were published in response to commonly-held beliefs to the contrary. Some even took objection to the concept of an official interpretation, arguing that the authors should either be quiet, or else publish an 11th edition of the book. Eventually, dissent died down as parliamentarians (including the author of this blog) came to terms with the situation, and recognized the interpretations as basically correct.
Despite any controversy that may still surround, the official interpretations constitute a valuable resource for anyone who encounters anything like the situations they address, and anyone with an interest in parliamentary procedure would be well advised to read through them.