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Diocese of South Carolina Rebuttal of TEC Recusal and Rehearing Arguments
Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:
“Today’s filings by the Diocese of South Carolina address the property law issues at the heart of this case. TEC failed to establish a trust interest in property, of any sort, that can be recognized under 300 years of existing South Carolina legal precedent. And to claim such an interest now is to grant TEC favored status against the Diocese and its parishes, establishing one church body over another. This is inconsistent with opinions of the United States Supreme Court that truly “neutral” principles of state law must be applied as they would be in any other case.
Further, the timeliness of our request for recusal is not an issue before an appellate court. The public confidence in and the credibility of the Court is! The most effective way to assure both is the recusal of Justice Hearn and the vacating of her opinion. A ruling free from conflict of interest is not a right that can be waived.”
The Diocese also provided the following list of additional details:
• In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted by an 80% margin to disassociate from The Episcopal Church. In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court appeared to rule on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church are subject to a trust interest in their property by (TEC).
Op-Ed in Post & Courier: Court ruling imperils freedom to worship, sanctions confiscation
The following op-ed appeared in the Post and Courier September 16, 2017. It is reprinted with permission.
Over 100 Clergy Statewide Express Support for Diocese and Constitutional Concerns
Over one hundred clergy from around the state of South Carolina, and representing 10 different denominations, have come together to express their support for the Diocese and their concern for the Constitutional issues raised by our Supreme Court ruling.
The attached statement was first published as an Op Ed in The State paper on September 17 and then published there as a full page ad on September 20. The statement with the current list of supporters can also be found on the Palmetto Family Council website.
TEC Responds to the Diocese of South Carolina's Motions for Recusal and Rehearing
On behalf of the Diocese of South Carolina, Rev. Canon Jim Lewis issued the following statement:
“Today’s filing by The Episcopal Church argues in essence, that the Diocese and its parishes waived their right to recusal, by not requesting it earlier, and that the Constitutional issues raised in their motions are negligible or mistaken. The facts in this ruling, as it presently stands however, will not yield to such arguments. Justice Hearn’s bias and conflict of interest is clear to any impartial observer. The Constitutional issues for Freedom of Religion remain. As our petition for rehearing stated: “These are serious issues for Respondents, Appellants and for all religious organizations in South Carolina. This Court should grant a rehearing.” That continues to be our hope and Constitutional expectation from the Court.”
Diocese of South Carolina and 29 Parish Churches File Motion for Rehearing in State Supreme Court
Court has issued a standard that negatively impacts religious organizations over similar secular organizations
COLUMBIA, S.C. (September 1, 2017) – Citing significant departures from both state and federal precedents, the Diocese of South Carolina and 29 parish churches today filed a motion for rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622. In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted to disassociate from The Episcopal Church. In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church’s ‘Dennis canon’ are subject to a trust interest in their property by The Episcopal Church (TEC). Only eight congregations were judged to have full rights to retain their property.
In a decision that partly reversed the February 2015 Circuit Court ruling of Judge Diane Goodstein, the Supreme Court significantly changed court precedents in multiple areas and divested the property rights of at least 28 congregations and over 20,000 church members.
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