Deliberative Assemblies


While deliberative assemblies sounds a little pretentious, the Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit discovered that these two words are very important in describing what most of us call meetings.


Deliberative assemblies have particular characteristics that distinguish them from other gatherings of people.  Deliberative assemblies have these distinguishing characteristics.


  • It is a group of people who, in fair and free discussion, make decisions for the entire It is the people who are present and voting who make decisions for all.  Saying, “But, I wasn’t there when they voted.” has no impact on the decision assuming that all have been equally informed about the meeting.
  • The group meets in a single area and has simultaneous aural communication. The really important words are simultaneous aural communication meaning that everybody can hear everybody else and can participate in the discussion. So chat rooms and email “conversations” do not constitute simultaneous aural communication (SAC).  Neither do phone calls made to one person and then another and another provide for SAC, but conference calls can be deliberative assemblies because everybody can hear and everybody can respond.
  • Every person generally is free to act according to their own judgment. In a democratic society people are not compelled to vote in any particular way by any person or group. Each person votes as they decide to vote.
  • The opinion of each person has the same weight expressed through voting. In a deliberative assembly people get the same vote. For example, an officer is not entitled to multiple votes and a newcomer who has just paid her dues has the same voting rights as the “old timer.”  Generally, the necessary vote to make a decision is a majority or more than half.
  • Failure to concur with a decision does not mean that a person has to withdraw from the organization. A person might choose to withdraw their membership if an organization takes a certain stand but no one is compelled to withdraw their membership. As it goes, “Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”



Thus, the Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit (LSPU) began its fall program on Tuesday morning, September 18.    In effect, Presenters Dot Martin and Cherunda Fox started our year off in the beginning, the initial understanding of what LSPU will study with in the next 8 months.  Members learned about the characteristics of deliberative assemblies and identified the five basic types of such gatherings.

  1. mass meetings
  2. local assemblies such as the local homeowners association, the PTA, a quilting club
  3. conventions
  4. legislative bodies
  5. boards and committees



In the following months we will spend our study time mostly devoted to local assemblies and boards.   Attendees learn how to participate well and run meetings that accomplish a group’s purposes.


Guests are always welcome at our third Tuesday of the month meetings, 9:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, Birmingham on 1669 West Maple Road.  Park in the rear of the building that is accessible.