May. 16th, 2017

kevin_standlee: (Gavel of WSFS)
Ben Yalow has pointed out to me that, in the context of a discussion that happened a few days ago about when WSFS Constitutional amendments take effect and the somewhat esoteric and nearly theoretical question of whether a vote in favor of ratification can be considered, the following Ruling of Continuing Effect, from 2002:

CH-2002-4: The Chair ruled that amendments to the Constitution become part of the Constitution at the moment of ratification, although they generally do not take effect until later; therefore, they are subject to amendment as any other part of the Constitution.
So what does this mean in practice, particularly regarding the YA Award with its problematical blanks and provisions, up for ratification this year? I've been argued around to the following:

1. If the YA Award as it currently stands is ratified, it becomes part of the WSFS Constitution the moment it is ratified, but it does not take effect (including its provision) until the end of Worldcon 75.

2. Item 1 means that that as it currently stands, the Worldcon 75 WSFS Business Meeting does not have the authority to name a YA Award. However, the 2018 WSFS Business Meeting could apply a name to the Award in a single vote because of that provision. (Of course, this is all moot if the base proposal fails to be ratified.)

3. Should the 2017 Business Meeting decide to ratify that YA proposal without the provision, the 2017 Meeting could then move as a new amendment to insert a name into the Award, with the name being something that could be passed in 2017 and ratified in 2018, like any other WSFS Constitutional amendment. That means the YA Award would have no official name in 2018, but (assuming 2017 passes a naming amendment that is ratified in 2018), it could get an official name for 2019 and beyond.

4. I would rule an amendment to strike out the special provision in the YA Amendment to be a reduction of scope and thus subject to immediate ratification. That's not because it reduces the number of words in the proposal. (You can increase the scope of change while simultaneously reducing the word count of a given proposal.) It is because striking out the special provision brings the proposal closer to the existing Constitutional rules; that makes the scope of change smaller, and we can ratify anything between the existing Constitution and the fully-scoped proposal up for ratification.

Now CH-2002-4 is a Chair's Ruling that has never been overturned either by a contrary ruling, a Standing Rule, or a change to the WSFS Constitution; therefore, it has significant binding force over WSFS procedures, although the Business Meeting could decide to set it aside. As part of the body of "Customs and Usages of WSFS," it has higher precedence than the parliamentary authority, Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised, although in fact I contend that it's quite consistent with RONR anyway.

The embarrassing thing about having to have CH-2002-4 pointed out to me is that I'm the one who made the ruling back at the 2002 WSFS Business Meeting. Oops. Oh, and because I'm the one who wrote the procedural end-run about naming, I'm setting myself up to, in effect, overrule myself. It wouldn't even be the first time that I, as WSFS Business Meeting Chair, have overruled an action that I, in some other role, took in WSFS.

Nothing I have said in this post should be taken as my expressing an opinion on the merits of a WSFS-sanctioned YA fiction award, or on the merits of any name (or lack of a name). I'm neutral on the merits. I'm only interested in making sure the process is correct.

Oh, and I still don't think you can reconsider an affirmative vote to ratify a Constitutional amendment.

August 2017

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