Simplified Rules of Order
Procedures Used in Meetings
Challenging a Ruling of the Chair
Any ruling of the chair can be challenged, but such appeals must be made immediately after the ruling. If debate has progressed, a challenge is not in order. Although Robert's Rules of Order allow debate under certain circumstances, the practice of some groups is to allow no debate.
Robert calls a challenge to the chair an "appeal" from the chair's decision. When a member wishes to appeal from the decision of the chair, the member rises as soon as the decision is made, even if another has the floor, and without waiting to be recognised by the chair, says, "Mr. Chairman, I appeal from the decision of the chair." The chair should state clearly the question at issue, and if necessary the reasons for the decision, and then state the question this way: "The question is, 'Shall the decision of the chair be sustained?'" If two members (mover and seconder) appeal a decision of the chair, the effect is to take the final decision on the matter from the chair and vest it in the meeting.
Such a motion is in order when another speaker has the floor, but it must be made at the time of the chair's ruling. As noted above, if any debate or business has intervened, it is too late to challenge. The motion must be seconded, is not amendable, but can be reconsidered. A majority or tie vote sustains the decision of the chair, on the principle that the chair's decision stands until reversed by a majority of the meeting. If the presiding officer is a member of the meeting, he or she can vote to create a tie and thus sustain the ruling. (See also the section on Voting Rights of the Chairperson.)
It should be noted that members have no right to criticize a ruling of the chair unless they appeal it.