Mark McCall: A Reply to Bishop Sauls

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After all arguments are made that can be made, it remains clear that a "majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" does indeed mean what it says: a majority of bishops with voting rights in the House of Bishops. The legislative history to which Bishop Sauls points demonstrates that the canon has always had this meaning, and it has never changed.

First, it must be noted that Bishop Sauls does not address at all the numerous other canonical violations of the Presiding Bishop in her handling of the matters involving Bishops Cox, Schofield and Duncan and the Diocese of San Joaquin. He assures us that Canon IV.9 contains procedural safeguards, but does not mention that Bishop Cox was denied those very safeguards. He points out that the Presiding Bishop must present the matter of certification of abandonment to the House of Bishops at its next meeting, but does not acknowledge that this was not done in the Cox case. He emphasizes the procedural protections afforded by the role of the three senior bishops, but does not acknowledge that they were never consulted about Bishop Cox. There is scant protection in procedural safeguards that are ignored.

Second, notwithstanding his scrutiny of the nineteenth century forerunners of Canon IV.9, Bishop Sauls does not address the fact that the language in the current canon is found elsewhere in TEC's current Constitution, in Article XII concerning constitutional amendments: such amendments are adopted by “a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops.” It is absolutely clear in this provision that active bishops not present are counted for purposes of determining the required majority when the phrase “whole number of bishops entitled to vote” is used. Bishop Sauls never mentions this provision.

Read it carefully and read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Polity & Canons

27 Comments
Posted May 31, 2008 at 12:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Cennydd wrote:

After reading this, it seems prudent to ensure that every Primate of the Anglican Communion should immediately be made aware of the contents of Bishop Sauls’ memo.

May 31, 1:22 pm | [comment link]
2. stabill wrote:

Once again we have comment on the deposition rules which tries to parse the phrase “whole number of bishops entitled to vote” as if there is a definition of it somewhere in the C and C.  (If you think it’s there, please tell us where.)

And once again nowhere in this critique is the reader shown an adequate chunk of Canon IV.9.2.

We’re dealing with language that results from a legislative process; it can be quirky.  In the end one has to go with what is rather than what one wants.

My reply to the argument of the ACN   Chancellor covers, as well, what is said by Mark McCall.

May 31, 3:08 pm | [comment link]
3. robroy wrote:

This is a helpful adjunct to the essays of Anglican Curmudgeon. As Mark points out, the correct precedence to look back to is not the recent improperly handled depositions but the one in 1874 of Bp Cummins:

The more ancient case of Bishop Cummins is instructive here. When something is done wrong, it should be made right.

However, it is my sincere hope that KJS/DBB carry on bludgeoning canon law.

Also, I plan to make available these texts to the lawyers in our parish.

May 31, 3:09 pm | [comment link]
4. MikeS wrote:

#2 stabill
You wrote in that response to the ACN Chancellor:

The fatal flaw in the ACN response to Sauls is that it fails to mention that Canon IV.9.2 requires an action by the House at a meeting of the House and no bishop having vote has entitlement to vote without being present at the meeting.

Precisely.  Thus, given the way the canon reads, (and apparently historically has been read) it would seem that the House was prevented from taking action until an actual majority of the whole number of bishops were present, voting and actually approving the depositions.

This is, of course, to say nothing of the prior mistakes in canonical procedure before the HoB meeting.  Failure to inhibit Cox or take timely action against him (for the apparent purpose of maintaining good public relations in New Orleans) as required come to mind as some prominent examples.

It seems to my non-legal mind, you conceded the point.  They weren’t there, therefore the House action was invalid as in the case of Bp Cummins.  You have exposed a fatal flaw, but it is not in the ACN Chancellor’s written response or in Mark McCall’s.  Sitting as a citizen on this jury, it would seem quite obvious who followed the rules and who did not.

May 31, 4:16 pm | [comment link]
5. Chancellor wrote:

The concise answer to the question: “What is the meaning of the phrase ‘a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote’?” is now laid out in a supplemental post at the Anglican Curmudgeon site (which condenses his fuller analysis here). It turns out that the answer is in the Constitution and Canons, stabill (#2), and it’s been there all along. It just takes dialog such as yours to zero in on the questionable points and to flesh out the answer. I’d urge you to read and analyze it carefully, and then see whether there could be any room left for an interpretation other than the one the Canon has historically always been given (until the two anomalous cases dragged out by Bishop Sauls, which cannot serve as any kind of precedent for doing what the Canon says is required). To my mind, this debate on the meaning of the phrase has now reached a definitive conclusion: from its beginning in 1853, the Canon has always required that a full majority of all the Bishops having a right to vote in the House determines whether one of their own can be deposed without a trial.

May 31, 8:57 pm | [comment link]
6. Cennydd wrote:

Chancellor, how could it possibly be any plainer than to require a vote of ALL of the bishops entitled to voice and vote…..including those not at the meeting?  Could the bishops require a mail ballot, if necessary?  Seems to me that would be the right thing to do.

May 31, 11:00 pm | [comment link]
7. Chancellor wrote:

Cennydd, no, the Canon requires that the vote be taken at a meeting of the House of Bishops, and a mail ballot would not satisfy that requirement. I agree with you that the language has been clear all along, but as the Curmudgeon cites people like Mark Harris et al., other people have been able to argue differently—-up till now. To me, the fact that the language originated in the 1901 Constitution, and was carried over into the Canon three years later, nails it. There’s no reasonable argument left for those who want to say it’s just those Bishops who show up for the meeting.

May 31, 11:20 pm | [comment link]
8. stabill wrote:

Chancellor (# 5),

Unfortunately there’s no definition of the precise phrase “majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” nor of the precise phrase “whole number of bishops entitled to vote” to be found in the C and C that applies directly to its meaning in Canon IV.9.2.

Look for yourself:
Unified Constitution and Canons (Nov 2006) (pdf file of about 1 Mb)

The Sauls report is correct on the interpretation of the C and C.

June 1, 12:09 am | [comment link]
9. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

Is there a definition of the term “we the people of the United States”?
Or is black white?

June 1, 12:39 am | [comment link]
10. Chancellor wrote:

Stabill (#8), there’s nothing unfortunate at all, because the language is plain on its face, and a definition would be superfluous. Look at the way the Curmudgeon lays it out:

1. In 1901, a totally new Constitution is adopted as part of a comprehensive revision of the C&Cs;(that started in 1895, and did not finish until 1904).

2. The 1901 Constitution spelled out in two Articles (X and XII), in language exactly the same as that used for Canon IV.9 three years later, that the following described supermajority has to approve any future changes to the BCP or to the Constitution itself: “a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops.”

3. There can be no question what this language means—-it cannot mean, for example, “a majority of the whole number of Bishops present and entitled to vote at a meeting in the House of Bishops”; it means you have to count, in determining whether an amendment was approved, all the Bishops in the House, present or not, because in 1901 there wasn’t a single member of the HoB who did not have the right to vote.

4. The proof of the statement in #3 came in 1937, when GC amended Arts. X and XII to insert the phrase “excluding retired Bishops not present” from the definition of the required majority. By excluding such Bishops, the drafters showed that active Bishops not present still had to be counted in the vote—-and that, before the 1937 change was made, the language thus meant that all Bishops had to be counted, both active and retired, and both present and not present.

5. Then the clincher: since the language of Arts. X and XII was, before 1937, exactly the same as the language of Canon IV.9 still is today—-because GC 1937 chose to leave it unchanged when it changed Arts. X and XII—-the language “a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” in Canon IV.9 thus means that you count all the Bishops in the House “entitled to vote [under Art. I, sec. 2]”—-whether they are present at the meeting or not.

6. The final point to make is that, read as just described, the language of the Canon is in unbroken continuity with how the Canon has read ever since it was adopted in 1853: it has always required that a majority of all the Bishops entitled to vote, whether actually there at the meeting or not, approve the deposition of a fellow Bishop, while in Canon III.12.8 (d), they allow just “a majority of those present” (emphasis added) to accept the voluntary resignation of a Bishop.

So that’s the logic of it. If you can’t agree with it, and see that no “definition” of the phrase is necessary, then go ahead say that you still think Bp. Sauls has the better argument. Don’t expect, however, that everyone can track your logic in doing so.

June 1, 9:49 am | [comment link]
11. stabill wrote:

Chancellor (# 10),

Thanks for clarifying.  Yes, I did go through Curmudgeon’s account.  (He keeps revising it; well, it is a bit complicated.)

However, it’s Sunday, and I don’t have the time to reply carefully today.  I’m standing firm.  Will reply tomorrow.

Peace.

June 1, 11:18 am | [comment link]
12. stabill wrote:

Chancellor (# 10),

On point 2: the “second reading” supermajority criterion in Arts. X and XII of the Constitution is different.  It is a long formulation that begins with “a majority of all bishops”.  That language is not present in Canon IV.9.

On the history: (see the commentary by Fr. Jake’s “Robert”) AIUI in the early days the senior bishop was asking for the consent of other bishops.  He needed a majority of them all.  But he was not presenting the matter to the House for action by the House, much less action by the House at a meeting of the House.

Need I say more?

June 1, 9:14 pm | [comment link]
13. Chancellor wrote:

Stabill (#12), take another look at Arts. X and XII. The part you are quoting is in their first paragraphs, and was added long after the original adoption of those articles in 1901. The part I am quoting now appears in the second paragraphs (but was originally the only such language in the paragraph). As adopted in 1901, it read “a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote”—-exactly as does Canon IV.9 (see White & Dykman, p. 134).

On the history, you obviously did not read the Curmudgeon’s tearing apart of “Robert’s analysis” here.

June 1, 9:34 pm | [comment link]
14. stabill wrote:

Chancellor (#13),

I’m talking about the current C and C.

Item 2 in message #10 mentioned articles X and XII in the 1901 Constitution, which I did not revisit.  Sorry.

Today what is relevant is just the second paragraph of article X, which has language matching the language of Canon IV.9.

Are you saying that the number of votes among bishops at GC required to amend the lesson tables or authorize trial use is greater than the number required for the second reading of an arbitrary amendment to BCP or an amendment to the Constitution?  How could that be?

June 2, 12:17 am | [comment link]
15. Irenaeus wrote:

Mark McCall does an excellent job of refuting Bp. Sauls. In so doing, he exposes the legal and moral nothingness of Sauls’ attempt to defend the indefensible.

Two worlds clash here. Sauls writes from a world of Soviet-style legal expediency, in which power need only plausibly rationalize its arbitrary will. McCall writes from a world of reason, principle, and the rule of law.

Moreover, you don’t need to be a hen to smell a rotten egg.

June 2, 12:34 am | [comment link]
16. Irenaeus wrote:

“Unfortunately there’s no definition of the precise phrase ‘majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote’ nor of the precise phrase ‘whole number of bishops entitled to vote’ to be found in the C and C that applies directly to its meaning in Canon IV.9.2”
—-Stabill [#8]

So what? As Chancellor observes [#8], “the language is plain on its face, and a definition would be superfluous.”

By I’d go beyond that and say that the language is plain enough so that a “definition” might create more problems than it would solve.

Good statutes so that they remain intelligible and reasonably clear when closely examined in the sort of context that Mark McCall and Chancellor provide.

You often write a statute differently than you would write an explanation of what the statute does. And you rarely put numerical examples in statutory text. Insofar as you define terms, you need to make sure that every other use of the term agrees with the definition. The danger of slipping on your own definitions creates at least a mild presumption against defining terms unless you have an articulable reason for doing so (e.g., to save words or provide further clarity).
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

What I’ve written thus far is true of modern statutory drafting. If you look back a century or so, defined terms were far less common than now.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Here are two secular parallels to the passages at issue here:

#1: In the United States Senate, a motion to limit debate (i.e., end a filibuster) requires the affirmative votes of “three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn”
—-Standing Rules of the Senate

#2: “No bill may be passed unless, by rollcall vote entered in the journal, a majority of the membership of each house concurs”
—-California Constitution

June 2, 1:12 am | [comment link]
17. Chancellor wrote:

Stabill (#14), my apologies for being too hasty in my explanation—-I was literally on my way out the door. Let me back up a bit.

In 1901, Art. X of the Constitution was amended by GC to read (in part): “. . . No alteration [of the BCP] or addition thereto shall be made unless the same shall . . . be adopted by the General Convention at its next succeeding triennial meeting by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops, and by a majority of the . . . Deputies of all the Dioceses . . . voting by orders. Provided, however, that the General Convention at any meeting shall have the power to amend the Tables of Lessons by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops, and by a majority of the [Deputies of all Dioceses etc.] . . .

Similarly, the drafters of [what was then] Art. XI (now Art. XII) of the Constitution in 1901 provided that: “No alteration or amendment of this Constitution shall be made unless the same be . . . adopted by the General Convention at its next succeeding triennial meeting by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops, and by a majority of the . . . Deputies of all the Dioceses . . . voting by orders.”

So as far as the drafters in 1901 and 1904 were concerned, the majority of Bishops required to approve both kinds of changes in the BCP, and any amendments to the Constitution, was the same as the majority required to consent to the deposition of a colleague, as provided in the words of Canon IV.9 as amended in 1904, because the words used were identical in all three cases.

Since that time, Canon IV.9 has remained unchanged, but Arts. X and XII have changed quite a bit. As you very perceptively noticed, Art. X today does provide for a smaller majority of Bishops to approve a change in the BCP (extending over two triennial Conventions)—-because it directs that the necessary majority shall be calculated by excluding the number of retired Bishops not present—-than it does for the number required to approve (in just one General Convention, not two) a change in the Table of Lessons, or in the authorization of a trial version of the BCP. The latter two types of change must be approved by a “majority of the whole number of the Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops” again, which is a return to the 1901-1904 standard, since you do not exclude “retired Bishops not present” from the count.

But as you say, in today’s version of the Constitution, it is only the second paragraph of Art. X that requires the same standard as Canon IV.9, because that is the only case where the original 1901 language has survived intact (except for a later insertion of the definite article: “a majority of the whole number of the Bishops entitled to vote,” which I don’t think changes the meaning at all).

So the main logic of the argument stands: in 1904, when the drafters of Canon IV.9 adopted the same language that had been used three years earlier in Arts. X and XII of the Constitution, they meant to say that all three types of decision—-amending the BCP, amending the Constitution, and deposing a colleague—-required the same “majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.” Later on, in 1937, they reduced the number of Bishops required to approve the first two kinds of changes, by excluding from the count all “retired Bishops not present.” But from those 1937 changes, we are entitled to conclude that the language before that point meant that you included all Bishops, retired and active, and both present and not present, in the count. And since that is still the language of Canon IV.9, unchanged since 1904, that is the majority still required today in order to depose a Bishop without a trial. As I think I said earlier, if TEC wants to change the requirement to what Bishop Sauls and Chancellor Beers thinks it should be, then they should do exactly the same as the drafters did in Canon III.12.8 (d), and strike out the words “whole number”, and add the word “present”, so that it reads “by a majority of those present.”

So I’m sorry if my earlier rush job confused you, because I think it’s important that we agree at least on the ground that we’re standing on. To me, the 1901 language, as changed in 1937, makes it crystal clear what the 1901 language meant, and since that 1901 language survives intact in Canon IV.9 today, there’s no room for a reading of it as that for which Bishop Sauls tries to argue—-he does not even attempt to address where the 1904 language came from, except to say that it was intended to allow for a change that was not enacted until six years later. (And then that change—-putting in suffragan bishops without the right to vote in the HoB—-was done by a constitutional amendment, which overrode the Canons in any event, so there is no historical basis for saying that the 1904 language was necessary to prepare for the 1910 change.) The case is much stronger the other way—-that the 1904 change in the Canon was a deliberate copying of the identical language the same drafters had used three years earlier, in 1901.

June 2, 2:32 am | [comment link]
18. wildfire wrote:

Chancellor in # 17 provides an excellent summary of what I believe is the conclusive issue in this matter, the current language in Article XII of TEC’s Constitution, which establishes beyond a doubt that the phrase “majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote” is not limited to bishops who are present.  The legislative history of Article XII, developed so thoroughly by Chancellor, reinforces this point.  Bp. Sauls does not address this conclusive issue at all.

I would not go so far as to say that the matter of suffragans was irrelevant to the 1904 convention that made a minor change (changing “seats” to “vote”) in the abandonment canon.  After all, the phrase “whole number of bishops entitled” was already in the abandonment canon in a context that made clear that the “whole number” referred to all bishops. The status of suffragan bishops in TEC’s history is confusing, a confusion due in no small part to the fact that White & Dykman discusses this topic in three different places: pp.18-22 and 57-62 in vol. 1 and 752-54 in vol. 2.  It appears that in 1829, Virginia elected a bishop with the express proviso that he “not be considered as entitled to the succession” as diocesan, thus making him a suffragan.  This created a controversy in the church, and the General Convention in 1829 withheld consent unless he were made a coadjutor.  That same convention passed a canon providing that “No person shall be elected or consecrated a Suffragan Bishop, nor shall there be more than one Assistant Bishop in a diocese at the same time.”  The new canon was necessary because there was no other canonical prohibition on suffragans, and Maryland had in fact had a bishop designated as suffragan (although with right of succession) earlier in the nineteenth century.

Toward the end of that century pressure grew for suffragans, especially from southern dioceses who wanted them to minister to their black constituents.  At the General Convention in 1904, Virginia made a further appeal for suffragans, which was accepted.  The canonical prohibition from 1829 was repealed in 1904, making suffragans possible, and the 1904 convention also instructed that constitutional amendments be prepared for 1907 expressly providing for suffragans in the constitution itself.  Such an amendment giving suffragans seat but not vote was in fact passed on the first reading in 1907 and became effective after being passed a second time in 1910.

Although this is only indirectly related to the abandonment canon, it seems likely that the minor change in that canon in 1904 of “seat” to “vote” was due to the repeal of the canonical prohibition on suffragans at that convention and the setting in motion of the constitutional amendment.  They made this change not only to take account of the possibility of suffragans, but also to conform the language to the constitutional language relating to Prayer Book and constitutional amendments.  In any event, it is absolutely clear from both of these precursors that the whole number referred to absent bishops as well as those present.

Irenaeus in #16 makes a fascinating point: the obsession with technical definitions in legislative drafting did not exist in earlier times.  It would be interesting to determine whether nineteenth century legislation had definitions at all.  One that I can think of off the top of my head, the so-called “Sec. 1983” of the codified Civil Rights Act, which dates from the 1871 “Ku Klux Klan Act,” has no definitions even though it has a number of difficult concepts, e.g., acting under color of state law.

June 2, 10:51 am | [comment link]
19. stabill wrote:

Chancellor (# 17),

The historical account is fascinating.  What one should keep in mind, however, is that in 1900 there were very many fewer dioceses and very, very many fewer bishops. What actually governs is the present document.

We are in agreement that the language in Article X of the Constitution is important.

The first paragraph has the second reading criterion for arbitrary BCP changes:

... by a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops ...

Why does the second paragraph not use parallel language (possibly perhaps omitting the retired bishop exception language)?

My reading is that the phrase “majority of all bishops” is the essential trigger for a supermajority requirement.  The significance in the first paragraph of the “of” clause that follows is to make it clear that only bishops present at Convention can vote (i.e., no absentee ballots).

June 2, 11:09 am | [comment link]
20. Irenaeus wrote:

“It would be interesting to determine whether nineteenth century legislation had definitions at all”—-Mark McCall [#18]

Statutory definitions became more common during the later part of the nineteenth century. The National Bank Act of 1864 got by with one definition in 20 single-spaced pages. The National Bankruptcy Act of 1898 included a 30-item definition section. At the federal level, a turning point of sorts probably came with the “Revised Statutes of the United States,” an early codification enacted during the 1870s. The more statutes you bring together into a single code, and the more systematically you codify them, the more verbal clutter you can avoid by judiciously defining terms.

June 2, 12:20 pm | [comment link]
21. Chancellor wrote:

Mark McCall (#18), thanks for your seconding of the history. Stabill (#19) and Irenaeus (##16 and 20), here is a little more on the contemporaneous history of the 1901 amendment to Art. X, as reported by the New York Times. Note that it reports that the purpose of the change in the Constitution was to make “alterations of the Prayer Book . . . more difficult.

As for the current first paragraph of Art. X, stabill, I really don’t think the language you are quoting creates any different of a majority than does the corresponding language in Art. XII—-but for the reduction indicated by the exception for retired Bishops who are not present at the meeting. A majority of all Bishops . . . of the majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops” is tautological, to be sure: rather like saying: “a majority of the whole number of all of the Bishops of the House,” or even worse: “a majority of all of all of the Bishops entitled to vote.” Even though the repetition is unnecessary, it doesn’t change the underlying meaning by one bit, because 100% of 100% is still 100%. Thus the language still means, however you slice it and dice it, the number of all (100%) of the Bishops in the House divided by two, and either rounded up to the next whole number, or plus one (if there is no fraction after dividing by two).

As to why the later GC 1937 decided to reduce the majority that the 1901 GC set up to make PB changes and constitutional amendments “difficult”, I haven’t done the research, but it seems entirely probable that it had to do with there being ever more and more Bishops, as you say. Which makes it all the more remarkable that they decided to keep the more difficult standard for the deposition of Bishops without a trial. Yes, we are dealing with today’s language, and today’s realities, but the standard was deliberately set high in 1904, and neither it nor the language expressing it has changed since.

June 2, 1:14 pm | [comment link]
22. Chancellor wrote:

Please excuse the misquote in the previous post (#21), which I didn’t catch before submitting: Repeating the quote from stabill (#19), I should have typed: “a majority of all Bishops . . . of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote,” and should not have added the second “of the majority” that crept in there. [Elves, maybe you could fix, please? Thanks.]

June 2, 1:21 pm | [comment link]
23. stabill wrote:

Chancellor (# 21, 22),

Please clarify.

In the language of Article X, first paragraph:

... by a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops ...

did you mean to say that the “of” clause (well, actually a rather long prepositional phrase) is redundant?

If so, then you would have concluded that the language is equivalent to this:

“... by a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, ...”

Have I understood you correctly?

June 2, 1:56 pm | [comment link]
24. Chancellor wrote:

I was looking at the first prepositional phrase beginning with “of”, stabill (#23).  Can you discern any substantive difference in meaning between these two versions?

. . . by a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops . . .”

and

. . . by a majority, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops . . .”

I don’t see any difference, because a majority of all [i.e., 100%] . . . of the whole number [100%, again] of Bishops” is “a majority of 100% of 100%,” or still a majority of 100% of the Bishops entitled to vote in the House. One of the 100%‘s is mathematically (as well as grammatically) unnecessary. Striking out the first of them makes the language read the most naturally to me.

June 2, 4:05 pm | [comment link]
25. stabill wrote:

Chancellor (# 24),

At Convention, a bishop is entitled to vote if the bishop has vote under Article I, Section 2, and if the bishop is in attendance.

My interpretation of the first version precludes the possibility of absentee ballots.

What is there to preclude absentee ballots in your interpretation with the claim that entitlement to vote is equivalent to having vote?

The second construction strikes me as awkward (in regard to usage) in that the antecedent for the exclusion is “whole number”.  But, hypothetically, I suppose “... by a majority of the whole number of bishops having vote in the House of Bishops, under Article I, Section 2, excluding retired Bishops not present, ...” is close to the same as the present language apart from the question of absentee ballots.

June 2, 6:41 pm | [comment link]
26. Chancellor wrote:

Stabill (#25), I think I now see the misunderstanding. No one is talking about “absentee ballots” with this language. You are right—-if you are not present at a meeting of the House of Bishops, you do not get to cast a vote, and they don’t accept “absentee ballots.”

What the language is defining is a special majority—-a minimum number of votes actually cast—-that must be reached before any resolution to depose will pass. To get that number, you start with the total number of Bishops in th House who would be entitled to cast votes if they all showed up. You then deduct from that hypothetical total number (in the case of amendments to the PB or to the Constitution) the actual number of retired Bishops who did not show up at the meeting to vote. You divide that answer by 2, and either round it up or add one, as necessary—-and the result is the “majority, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops.” Again, no absentee voting of any kind; just a way of calculating the count that is needed to a say a motion carried.

Example: given, say, 130 active Bishops, and 170 retired Bishops, in the House as of a given date.

1.If they all show up at the meeting to vote, the number of votes required either to amend the PB or Constitution, or to depose one of their colleagues (whom I have not counted, because he/she is disqualified from voting on the question of his or her own deposition), is 151.

2. If just 100 active Bishops show up at the meeting, and just 20 of the retired Bishops, the magic number to pass an amendment under Art. X or XII is now 76, because you have to include the active Bishops not at the meeting (30 of them), but not the retired ones who didn’t make it (150 of them). So the number needed for a vote to pass is (120+30+20)/2 + 1, or 76.

3. (Same numbers present and absent as in #2.) The number of votes needed to carry a resolution to depose under Canon IV.9, which does not deduct for any absent Bishops, is still 151, calculated as in case #1. So under my facts, the meeting with these numbers of attendees could vote to amend the Constitution or PB, but they would not have the number needed to depose anyone, because even if every one voted unanimously to depose, the total number of votes in favor would come to just 130, or 21 votes shy of what the Canon requires. That is the difference between the Constitution and the Canon in their current versions, and that is why the votes to depose +Schofield and +Cox failed to carry on March 12.

But in no case is there any “absentee balloting,” and in no case does a person who is physically absent get to cast a vote.

June 2, 7:49 pm | [comment link]
27. stabill wrote:

Chancellor (# 26),

No one is talking about “absentee ballots” with this language. You are right—-if you are not present at a meeting of the House of Bishops, you do not get to cast a vote, and they don’t accept “absentee ballots.”

Correct.

We are talking about how to understand the phrase “whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” in the context of a meeting of the HoB (in connection with Canon IV.9) or a meeting of General Convention (in connection with Article X).

If absentee ballots are not allowed, then a bishop not present is not entitled to vote and the whole number of bishops entitled to vote is reduced by the number of bishops not present.  If, on the other hand, the meaning was to have been “the number of all bishops”, that would have been simpler language to use.

The question is: What forbids absentee balloting?  It cannot be administrative in the case of Article X because that’s in the Constitution. The answer can only be that it is implicit in the context of a meeting where entitlement to vote requires presence.

The contrast between the first and second paragraphs in Article X makes it clear that the phrase “majority of all bishops” is the trigger for a supermajority.  The presence of the exception for retired bishops keeps that supermajority requirement from being perverse, e.g., from giving automatic “no” votes to bishops who for reason of advanced age or infirmity are unable to attend.

3. (Same numbers present and absent as in #2.) The number of votes needed to carry a resolution to depose under Canon IV.9, which does not deduct for any absent Bishops, is still 151, calculated as in case #1. So under my facts, the meeting with these numbers of attendees could vote to amend the Constitution or PB, but they would not have the number needed to depose anyone, because even if every one voted unanimously to depose, the total number of votes in favor would come to just 130, or 21 votes shy of what the Canon requires.

Sorry.  Manifestly this a perverse interpretation because it gives a bishop in a hospital tied to life support equipment an automatic negative vote regardless of that bishop’s opinion.

Peace.

June 3, 2:11 pm | [comment link]
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