The nonprofit Liberty Institute has filed an amicus brief in the dispute between the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Fort Worth and the Diocese of Fort Worth led by the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker.
In arguing that the Texas court should dismiss the case, Liberty cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s January ruling in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC. In that ruling, the high court found that “the First Amendment permits hierarchical religious organizations to establish their own rules and regulations for internal discipline and government.”
“When the factions of a church disagree about its hierarchical nature, and its structure of control is ambiguous on its face, the courts must treat the issue as a ‘religious question’ and dismiss the action for lack of jurisdiction,” the Liberty brief argues.
Kelly J. Shackleford, a graduate of Baylor University’s School of Law, founded the firm in 1972.
The court has granted a request from Bishop Iker’s diocese to expedite the case and it will hear further arguments Oct. 16. The request for an expedited hearing resulted from Title IV allegations being filed against seven bishops after they filed an amicus brief in 2011.
The full brief from Liberty Institute follows.
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