Parliamentary Law Month is observed every April, and it is an important month for the National Association of Parliamentarians. On this day, historians regard and celebrate the N.A.P.’s long history of supporting parliamentary procedure and democratic participation. This commemoration also falls during the birth month of Thomas Jefferson, who in 1801 produced the first American manual of parliamentary procedure. But while Parliamentary Law Month can’t be celebrated without Jefferson, another man, Henry M. Robert, has had a much bigger impact on how parliamentary procedures work in U.S. legislation today.
History of Parliamentary Law Month
In the middle of the nineteenth century, Henry M. Robert was a leading military official. As a young army engineer in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1863, he was asked to lead a meeting of residents. Even though he had never been trained in parliamentary procedure, he was in charge of the meeting. After finding that the existing guides to parliamentary procedure didn’t have enough information, he decided to write his own. Robert wrote “Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies” in 1876.
Over the years, Robert kept changing and adding to his manual. Robert retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a Brigadier-General in 1901 and spent the rest of his life writing and revising his rules. After three editions of the pocket manual came out and more than half a million copies were sold, Robert rewrote about 75 percent of the book and put out four editions of it before he died in 1923. The last edition, which came out in May 1915 and was called “Robert’s Rules of Order Revised,” was completely rewritten and expanded. In 2005, a shorter reference book called “Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief” (abbreviated RONRIB) was published by the same authors and publisher as the tenth edition of “Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised” and was made to match that edition.
Robert’s books on parliamentary procedure have influenced leaders in many different areas of the U.S., such as church groups, non-governmental organizations, school boards, trade unions, and corporate societies. Parliamentary Law Month is a great time for parliamentarians and organizations, in general, to think about how they use parliamentary procedures to increase organizational productivity.
Parliamentary Law Month timeline
Robert publishes the first standard book of parliamentary procedures.
Robert retires from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a Brigadier-General.
Robert rewrites more than half of his book on parliamentary procedure for the first time.
The seventh edition of Robert’s book is published posthumously on the 94th anniversary of his book on parliamentary procedures.
A shorter version, intended as an introductory book, is published.
Parliamentary Law Month FAQs
What were the parliamentary laws?
They are a body of laws, regulations, and procedures that organizations employ to perform their operations.
What is the purpose of an Act of Parliament?
An Act of Parliament enacts new legislation or modifies existing legislation.
How does a parliamentary republic work?
In this system of government, the executive branch receives its legitimacy from, and reports, to the legislature.
How to Observe Parliamentary Law Month
Learn about Parliamentary Law
Learn about parliamentary law and how it works in government. This can be done through reading articles, watching videos, or attending lectures on the topic.
Participate in community politics
Volunteer with a local political campaign or lobbying group to get involved in your neighborhood. You can also practice parliamentary procedures in projects or teams in which you are involved.
Engage in discussions about parliamentary procedures
Inform your friends and family about the significance of parliamentary law and how it affects their daily life. If you want to understand how to effectively anchor meetings, you can purchase a copy of Robert's book on parliamentary procedure and master the essentials.
5 Facts About Parliamentary Procedure
The majority carry the day
Any decisions made on the floor of the house will be dependent on the majority vote.
The members have rights
They have the right to speak, attend meetings, and have access to all the information about what they are voting for.
Questions are tackled one at a time
The question presented on the floor of the house has to be addressed to its logical conclusion before any other motion is presented.
There’s one vote per person
Every member has a vote and everyone’s vote is treated as equal — no vote is considered weightier than the other.
Members have to be present to vote
Too bad if you wanted to vote on a certain motion but were not in the House on that day; you cannot ask a friend to vote on your behalf.
Why Parliamentary Law Month is Important
Celebration of our democratic system
Parliamentary Law Month honors the norms and precedents that have guided the smooth operation of legislation. It may have been difficult to preserve democracy at such an advanced level in the U.S. without these principles of order.
It offers knowledge of our country's structure
The month assists legal scholars in understanding the procedures and methods that have shaped the government. This makes it easy to make significant and good adjustments to these rules of order regularly.
It boosts citizen participation in the political system
Individuals are far more motivated to participate when they are confident in their grasp of a functional set of rules governing a certain entity. A consistent set of order rules makes it simple to incorporate a broader union and move forward seamlessly together.
Parliamentary Law Month dates