Court Declines Ft. Worth Case

From the Diocese of Fort Worth led by the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker:

We give thanks this morning that the Supreme Court of the United States has denied the petition of [Episcopal Church] plaintiffs for a reversal of the Texas Supreme Court ruling of August 2013. We are grateful to attorneys Aaron Streett and Michelle Stratton for presenting our response to the Court.

This development allows us to turn full attention to the Summary Judgment filing that will soon be made in the 141st District Court. In addition, we are assured that the Texas Supreme Court ruling will govern the outcome of our case. “We are pleased,” said Bishop Iker, “that the Supreme Court has agreed with our position that the TEC petition for a review was without merit. We now move forward to a resolution of this case under neutral principles of law as applied in the State of Texas.”

Analysis of the decision may be found on attorney Allan Haley’s blog.

Maureen Johnston of SCOTUSblog highlighted the appeal as petition of the day on October 3:

Issue: (1) Whether the First Amendment or Jones v. Wolf requires courts to enforce express trusts recited in general-church governing documents (as some jurisdictions hold), or whether such a trust is enforceable only when it would otherwise comply with state law (as others hold); (2) whether retroactive application of the neutral-principles approach infringes free-exercise rights; and (3) whether the neutral-principles approach endorsed in Jones remains a constitutionally viable means of resolving church-property disputes, especially in light of Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC.

TLC will publish a response from the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Fort Worth when it is available.

Image by Phil Roeder, via Wikimedia Commons

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