Monday, June 11, 2018

Justice Denied: SCOTUS Refuses South Carolina Petition

Today's order list from the United States Supreme Court brings the sad news that the Court voted to deny certiorari (review) in the case of Bishop Mark Lawrence and the parishes of the Diocese of South Carolina.  This means that no four justices considered the case important enough to have the Court's full attention, and says volumes about the secular makeup of our current Court.  (Or it could be telling us that the justices of the Supreme Court are better followers of St. Paul's advice on litigation than are most Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians! Six of them are Roman Catholic, after all.)

It also means that the impossibly fractured, highly partisan and irresponsible decision of the court below will stand in infamy as possibly the worst application of so-called "neutral principles" on record. But that the Supreme Court chose to do nothing about the legacy that Harry Blackmun gave us says that it has disowned its responsibility for that doctrine, and in the future will mean that churches can expect no fair treatment of their property issues in the secular courts.

As, always, therefore, St Paul is vindicated yet again. And ECUSA gets just what it always wanted: a servient South Carolina of its own, with no regard whatsoever for the centuries of history that built the heritage it betrays today. By watching what the Episcopal Church and its minions do with the treasure that has been handed over to them, the rest of the Christian world will learn the nature of the god which Episcopalians today truly worship.

10 comments:

  1. While I suspect you're feeling rather like the yeoman in THE CAINE MUTINY who tells Willie Keith 'Don't ask me why officers do anything. You wouldn't like my answer,' could you provide a little further clarification?

    Regardless of any internal inconsistencies in the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling, we have a "neutral principles" judgment in respect of TEC let stand in the (generally) hierarchical deference state of Illinois, and a hierarchical deference judgment in respect of TEC let stand in the (generally) neutral principles state of South Carolina? That being the case, is not one of these rulings inherently "wrong"?

    Perhaps a cert petition petition might have been granted had the Diocese of Chicago chosen to appeal, but surely the Court should at least have indicated the grounds on which the case was passed over?

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    1. Right you are, Jeremy Bonner: the Illinois decision cannot be reconciled with the South Carolina one. We know which is wrong, but in our federal system only the Supreme Court has the power to do something about it. And that Court has abdicated its responsibilities in that area for the time being — they deem it far more important to redefine the traditional meaning of marriage for all of us rather than get bogged down with the typical concerns of real property law. The latter is so “old hat,” don’t you see, while the former opens up so much more room for judicial creativity and activism.

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    2. Isn't denying the petition in the SC case one of permitting lower courts to decide a case under 'neutral principles' or 'hierarchical deference' consistent with what Blackmun's decision allowed many years ago (notwithstanding that there's clearly a strong argument that the South Carolina decision was in error given the applicable facts and law)?

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    3. But would not the effect of that be to undermine the expectation of a hierarchical church (some of the holiness and pentecostal churches seem to operate as if they are hierarchical, for example) to expect that it will be treated the same way across state jurisdictions. If I were an Episcopalian formerly resident in the Diocese of Quincy I would be feeling irked that my claim to church property had not been judged in the same way as it has been in South Carolina.

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    4. You point has merit, however, it may be the case that in a practical sense it may be relatively easy for even an hierarchical denomination to be in the position in a particular case where the denomination has become subject to the application of neutral principles of law because of the specific facts and law present in that case.

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  2. "By watching what the Episcopal Church and its minions do with the treasure that has been handed over to them,"

    What will be more interesting, particularly to the forensic asset investigators, is to " watch. . . what the Lawrence church and its minions [have done] with the treasure that has been" in their hands for 5+ years.

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    1. And so the triumphing begins. . .

      Yes, by all means, let’s have a full forensic accounting to show how those faithful to the old traditions have managed to commit waste of those properties which have been theirs for so long. Let’s continue to rub their noses in their loss to keep it as expensive for them as you can. Don’t forget how well ECUSA has managed — and spent — all those trust funds left in its care more than a hundred years ago in order to transform itself into the highly popular, attractive and ever-growing denomination that it is today.

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  3. While this is sad news, I believe the Lord himself is not dismayed. As I was thinking about it, the words of Matthew 15:13,14 came to mind: [Jesus] answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

    While the theft of properties is truly an injustice, their loss will not halt the gospel. Let ECUSA have the churches. If they use them to preach the true message of salvation through Jesus Christ, that will be good. However if, as seems more likely, they continue to promote the new ECUSA apostate religion, then they will wither and die.

    Meanwhile, the true Diocese of South Carolina and ACNA must continue obediently to build the Kingdom of God in North America. The Lord will pour out his blessings on this work, and eventually return much more than locusts have eaten.

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  4. In Tampa now and reading this. I'm upset at our broken legal system, I'm upset at my buffoon of a Presiding Bishop for allowing this to continue for all his "love, love, love" stuff, but I'm also upset at Bishop Lawrence's lawyers for not getting Justice Hearn off the case before it was argued.

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