Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, March 27th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 13 Comments
After further review, I’m starting to believe that as far as the Anglican situation in South Carolina is concerned, something else might be in play:
The Episcopal Church (TEC) this past Friday, March 12, filed in the US Supreme Court a brief supporting dissident Episcopal parishioners in the Pawley’s Island area. The brief seeks a writ of certiorari in an effort to overturn the South Carolina Supreme Court’s unanimous September 2009 decision allowing the parish church of All Saints, Waccamaw, to break away from TEC.
The South Carolina court’s unanimous decision last September was the oldest still-pending court dispute involving the application of the Dennis Canon of The Episcopal Church to a parish’s property. In a wide-ranging decision involving All Saints Parish Church, Waccamaw, which serves the Pawleys Island area, the South Carolina court held that All Saints Parish Church, Waccamaw, is an independent congregation and the true owner of its property outside the jurisdiction of TEC. The property includes the original parish church which is more than 200 years old.
The appeals brief was filed with the US Supreme court on a petition for a writ of certiorari. Certiorari is a procedure by which a party can ask the US Supreme Court in its discretion to review a case. The Supreme Court receives thousands of certiorari petitions each year and routinely denies all but about one hundred. If the court decides to accept the case, it will grant a writ of certiorari. Thus, the US Supreme Court still has to rule whether it will take the case. The All Saint’s parties have until April 23 to file a reply brief on this question.
That underlined part is important; this appeal is a long shot, one which Anglican conservatives recently lost. Granted, Hail Marys sometimes work but the odds against TEO in this particular case have to be considered enormous.
Stay with me.
Since the South Carolina Supreme Court has already demonstrated that it will not prostrate itself before the Dennis Canon and since writs of certiorari are difficult things to obtain, a legal move against the Diocese by TEO would be extremely risky.
If TEO sues South Carolina for not suing some parish that wants to throw in with AMiA and TEO loses, Episcopal Organization authority over South Carolina effectively comes to an end and the Diocese is free to do anything it wants.
South Carolina could vote to join ACNA, it could vote to pursue an independent existence all its own or it could vote to maintain its present ambiguous relationship with TEO, secure in the knowledge that it was effectively independent anyway.
Mrs. Schori’s only option would seem to be her usual “abandonment of communion” scam, deposing Lawrence, firing the Standing Committee, appointing sock puppets in their places and hoping like hell that the South Carolina courts would be fearful of inserting itself into questions of “church governance.”
Thing is, they already have. By deciding the Pawley’s Island case in the way that they did and by deciding it unanimously, the South Carolina Supreme Court has indicated that it won’t automatically and robotically defer to TEO’s arguments.
And the difficulties in obtaining a writ of certiorari from the US Supreme Court suggest that if Mrs. Schori wants to “rebuild” the Episcopal Organization in South Carolina, it will be the liberals who will be renting worship space wherever they can find it.