Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A.S. Haley: Decision in South Carolina Case Expected Soon

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Today, at the request of Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein, both sides in the South Carolina case are submitting proposed forms of a final decision and order for her to sign. She will most likely use one of the two versions as a basis for her own written decision, which she could issue as early as next week.

The South Carolina decision, when it comes, will not be written on a blank slate. As a trial judge, Judge Goodstein is bound to follow and apply precedents of the South Carolina Supreme Court. In 2009 that Court handed down its decision in the case of All Saints Parish Waccamaw v. Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and thereby established that church property disputes in the State are to be decided under "neutral principles of law."

In the context of the present dispute, this means that the Court will base its final decision upon a close examination of the various deeds and other documents evidencing ownership and title, as well as the governing documents (constitution, canons, articles and bylaws) of the parishes, the Diocese, and of the Episcopal Church (USA) itself.

As to the ability of the Diocese to withdraw from ECUSA, it would seem that it has already been finally adjudicated (by the courts of Illinois) that there is no language in the Constitution or canons of ECUSA which would prevent a Diocese from withdrawing. That is also a decision drawn under neutral principles, and so is in harmony with the method shown in the All Saints Waccamaw case. I should think that Judge Goodstein will find the reasoning of those two cases both persuasive and binding upon her...  the rest
A parish affiliates with ECUSA by virtue of being a member of an ECUSA Diocese, and when that Diocese withdraws, the parish's affiliation is thereby terminated as well -- as long as the parish chooses to stay a member of the withdrawing Diocese. Here the Diocese freely allowed its member parishes to choose which affiliation they wanted to keep, and did nothing to prevent the withdrawal of those that wanted to remain with ECUSA.


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