Monday, September 23, 2013

A.S. Haley: Federal Court in Fort Worth Closes Two Lawsuits

Fiday, September 20, 2013

What your Curmudgeon finds remarkable in these recent developments in the litigation over withdrawing dioceses is that there are still some Episcopalians who believe that, just because they think there ought to be an implied rule against unilateral withdrawal, the courts must enforce it anyway, just on ECUSA's say-so. Those days are over. ECUSA has shown, when push comes to shove on its claims, that it has zero evidence of any such rule ever having been enforced in its 225-year history.

And even if it could now make up such a rule, and get it passed by General Convention, the courts would be prevented from enforcing it by the developments in First Amendment jurisprudence that have occurred in the last seventy-five years. A diocese, incorporated or not, has the same rights under the First Amendment as any single individual does. And those rights include the ability to associate with whomever the person chooses to associate, regardless of what some group may claim to the contrary.

Making up "rules" after the fact has been a specialty of the current regime at 815. ("Oh, we've always done it that way." "Well, we don't need to follow the Canons in this particular instance, because we like the result we can get by not following them.") That may be the way for Calvin and Hobbes to run their exclusive club, but it is not the way to run a church governed by a Constitution and Canons. ECUSA is finding that its leaders' lawlessness will carry it only so far. And it is about time.  the rest

Taking up the Fiddle While Rome Burns
...The Presiding Bishop's job -- and future reputation -- is, in effect, on the line. She and her personal Chancellor have been so identified with the litigation agenda of ECUSA (because they run that agenda without interference from anyone else in the entire Church) that they are taking a hit, so to speak, on account of the reversals which that agenda has recently suffered in Texas (Fort Worth), Illinois (Quincy), South Carolina, and yes - let it be said -- in San Joaquin (even though there is as yet no final judgment there, ECUSA faces a decidedly uphill battle to convince the California court that its canons allow it to take the property of the withdrawing diocese).

In a (rather desperate, and, some would say) clumsy attempt to protect her prerogatives on the litigation front, the Presiding Bishop (and, as always, her personal Chancellor, whose law firm earns millions each year from the Presiding Bishop's continuing patronage) asked the "Ecclesiology Committee" to deliver a counter  to the "Bishops' Statement on Polity" promulgated by the Anglican Communion Institute and the Communion Partner Bishops within ECUSA. (Note that Bishop Martins is a Communion Partner bishop, who signed the 2009 Statement on Polity, and who -- along with six other bishops and three priests -- faced disciplinary proceedings for having the temerity to repeat what it said to the courts in Illinois and Texas.)...


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