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GOP Issues Decorum Guide for Senate Trial

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  • By Helen Dewar
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 14, 1999; Page A17

    Senate Republicans have circulated a nine-point set of "decorum guidelines" for President Clinton's impeachment trial that is worthy of any well-disciplined classroom: Don't skip class, don't chat with your seatmates and turn off your cell phones and beepers at the door.

    In case anyone needs to know, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist should be called "Mr. Chief Justice," and senators would be ill-advised to walk between him and lawyers or witnesses in the well of the chamber.

    The guidelines were produced by a "leadership working group" created by Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to help Republicans prepare for the trial. They were prepared by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the group who had expressed concern about guiding senators on the subject of proper decorum.

    Distributed during the past two days, the one-sheet advisory urges senators to "plan to be in attendance at all times during the proceedings" and says they should rise from their seats when Rehnquist arrives and wait until he is seated before sitting down again, reversing the procedure upon his departure.

    Reading materials should be confined to those pertaining to "the matter before the Senate." "Before entering the chamber, please remember to turn off cell phones and beepers," the guidelines add.

    The chief justice may be referred to as "Mr. Chief Justice." If votes are required, senators will stand and vote from their seats. And "please refrain from walking between the chief justice and the managers or witnesses in the well," the advisory says.

    "The Leadership Working Group hopes these general guidelines will help to lend the greatest dignity to these proceedings, reflect the civility of the Senate and illustrate our respect for the Chief Justice and those who have the responsibility of presenting the impeachment case and defense," the paper concludes.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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