Problems with Rosenberg’s Rules of Order

Rosenberg’s Rules of Order is a simplified set of parliamentary rules widely used in California. In many respects it parallels Robert’s Rules of Order. Rosenberg offers an excellent discussion on the role of the chair and the basic format for an agenda item discussion. However, Jurassic Parliament believes that there are several problems with Rosenberg’s Rules. This article lists the concerns. Our PDF compares the two authorities using these editions:


  • Under Rosenberg, the chair has discretion in several matters which Robert leaves to the body as a whole, which is more democratic.
  • Rosenberg gives too much importance and latitude to “substitute motions.” This could be very confusing for the body. Jurassic Parliament recommends against the widespread use of substitute motions. Better to defeat a motion and then propose a new one.
  • Rosenberg approves the common usage of “friendly amendment.” This goes against the principle that a motion, once made, seconded and stated by the chair, belongs to the body as a whole. The maker and seconder should not have the right to accept an amendment during discussion.
  • Rosenberg allows members of the body to interrupt debate and withdraw a motion unilaterally. This is disruptive and undemocratic.
  • In Rosenberg, only three motions may be on the floor at the same time. This greatly restricts the number of actions a body may take.
  • Robert provides information on many motions, situations and issues in its 716+ pages that are not covered in Rosenberg’s 10 pages.


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Ann Macfarlane

Ann G. Macfarlane is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She offers an interactive and user-friendly way to master the key points for effective, efficient and fair meetings. Her background as a diplomat and Russian translator enables her to connect with elected officials and nonprofit board directors and give them the tools they need for success. She is the author of Mastering Council Meetings: A guidebook for elected officials and local governments.