Amend Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution

We propose a change to the Constitution to allow Joint Sessions of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies to occur. This change seems necessary to allow the current practice of both Houses sitting together in Joint Sessions to receive reports, as well as any future canonical changes that may offer different ways of structuring how our Houses choose to deliberate together.

D008: Amend Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 1. There shall be a General Convention of this Church, consisting of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, which Houses shall sit and deliberate separately, unless a Joint Session is provided for by the Canons or the Presiding Officers shall together call for a Joint Session which is approved by a majority vote in the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies; and in all deliberations freedom of debate shall be allowed. Either House may originate and propose legislation, and all acts of the Convention shall be adopted and be authenticated by both Houses.

5 Comments

  1. Lisa Fox

    I see you’re taking a run at the “unicameral” legislature that the TREC report proposes. As our diocesan Deputies have pondered the TREC report, we have worked hard on this one, seeing many benefits and many drawbacks and/or causes for concern.

    In theory, it seems to be a good idea to have representatives of the whole church assembled, with all four orders of ministry in dialogue together.

    But what about those dioceses (and we all know there are some) in which the Bishop intimidates the clery and laity? Will Deputies feel free to speak and vote without intimidation? We know that bishops may punish both clergy and laypersons who differ from the bishop’s perspective. Bishops have total control over deacons and various ways of punishing/rewarding priests? How will they be protected?

    This phrase, “in all deliberations freedom of debate shall be allowed,” seems quite fuzzy and in need of further detail about that will occur.

    BTW, I’m a Lay Deputy to GC2015.

    Reply
  2. Episcopal Resurrection (Post author)

    Hi Lisa,

    The resolution firstly aims to make licit what we are already doing. According to our constitution, the two Houses may not sit together. There are no exceptions. So this resolution if adopted and then adopted again in 2018, would permit the Joint Sessions that we already have for various purposes (nominations of PB, budget reports, etc.).

    Our drafting committee mostly do not favor eliminating a bicameral convention in favor of a unicameral convention. I myself have changed my mind on this as I’ve reflected further and engaged in more conversation. However, our group felt that a permissive change might enable some future convention to have flexibility. Maybe there are certain kinds of deliberation that would work better in one house. Maybe we’d want to try it for a time. Under our current constitution, we cannot even try this and, again, we are not even supposed to sit together for any kind of Joint Session.

    So this resolution is about making our current practice licit and about creating possibilities, which seems good in this time of flux. I for one would want to be very cautious in moving to a unicameral assembly, but this resolution does not move us any closer to that reality.

    Peace,
    Scott Gunn

    Reply
    1. Lisa Fox

      Thanks for clarifying that, Scott. In that case, you might want to revise the text of your rationale to make that clearer.

      And I still find the language, “in all deliberations freedom of debate shall be allowed,” quite fuzzy and in need of further detail. TREC did a better job about defining the rules of debate.

      Reply
  3. Susan Brown Snook

    Just to clarify – the language “in all deliberations freedom of debate shall be allowed” is in the constitution already. We did not propose to change it, because we were concentrating on the issue of when joint sessions should be allowed. It may be fuzzy, but I wouldn’t want to take that language out and give someone an argument to limit debate. Thanks for the robust discussion, Lisa!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Fox

      And thanks for your patience, Susan and Scott!
      Now I understand the language (“in all deliberations freedom of debate shall be allowed”) is in the current Constitution. I suppose I was reading this with the lens of the TREC resolution which makes “freedom of debate” and openness very fuzzy. Sorry I confused the two proposals.

      Reply

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