The Senate creates precedents whenever senators act officially under the Constitution to determine the rules of procedure that regulate their proceedings in specific situations. Article I, section 5, clause 2 of the Constitution stipulates that only decisions made on the Senate floor by the presiding officer or by senators carry precedential weight.

The Senate may create a new precedent in three ways.

  1. The Senate may create a precedent when the presiding officer rules on points of order against Byrd Rule violations.

  2. The Senate may create a precedent when senators vote on an appeal of the presiding officer’s initial ruling on a point of order.

  3. The Senate may create a precedent when the presiding officer responds to a senator’s question on the floor about the appropriate procedure in a specific situation.

Note: the Senate does not treat precedents based on parliamentary inquiries in the same way as those established in accordance with a definitive action such as a ruling by the presiding officer or a vote of the full Senate. Consequently, the precedents that the Senate creates by this mechanism are distinguished from all other precedents by the word “see” in its records. such precedents may gain non-binding – precedential – value overtime to the extent that responses to parliamentary inquiries give senators an idea of how the presiding officer may rule in the future.