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Second legal blow for TEC in South Carolina case: The Church of England Newspaper, February 20, 2013. March 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Lawyers for the Episcopal Church have conceded that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s claim that while people may leave the Episcopal Church, dioceses and congregations may not, is without merit.

The concession, Canon lawyer Allan Haley reports, comes in their acquiescence to the filing of a Temporary Injunction issued in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina court case, forbidding the national church or its allies from using the name, symbols or seal of the diocese.

Entered with the consent of attorneys representing the national church, the 31 Jan 2013 order by Judge Diane Goodstein replaces a 23 Jan Temporary Restraining Order, effectively making permanent the ban that forbid the national church and its surrogates from claiming to act on behalf of the diocese.

Mr. Haley noted the injunction remains in effect until Judge Goodstein agrees to modify it, or dissolve it, for good cause shown.

The injunction “maintains the status quo ante until the case can be tried,” he said, and “keeps the parties in the same position they were before the dispute between them arose — it is designed to prevent one of the parties from unilaterally moving the goalposts before the game can be played. At the end of the trial, the court will decide either to make preliminary injunction permanent, or else to dissolve it once and for all.”

Mr. Haley said the national church’s “capitulation”, by agreeing to the injunction, establishes “facts on the ground”.

“There is a legally cognizable “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,” whose legal existence began in 1785.”

“The remnant Episcopalian group may not either assume its name, or claim to be the same religious non-profit corporation under South Carolina law.”

The “Diocese has actually separated itself in law from the Episcopal Church. It exists, under its own State’s laws, wholly separate and apart from the Church of which it formerly was a member.”

The loyalist group will be a “brand-new religious entity, whose existence was not a legal reality until it met and organized itself on January 26, 2013.”

These “facts on the ground” are “fatal” to the argument put forward by the national church that people may leave, but dioceses may not, Mr. Haley said. “South Carolina is living proof of the fact that Dioceses and their associated parishes may indeed, as is their constitutional right under the First Amendment, leave.”

“We are gratified that The Episcopal Church has consented to a temporary injunction protecting the identity of our Diocese and its parishes,” said Jim Lewis, Canon of the Diocese. “We pray that sentiment fuels the prompt and reasonable resolution we all seek.

Thomas Tisdale, chancellor of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina – the faction in South Carolina loyal to the national church — did not respond to our queries.

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