SOUTH CAROLINA: Federal Judge Remands Diocese of SC Case to State court

Court finds that “tacit” First Amendment issues not in the Diocese’s complaint are not a basis for federal court jurisdiction

CHARLESTON, SC, June 10, 2013 – U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck today remanded the case to the South Carolina Circuit Court. In informing the parties, Judge Houck said,

“If this Court determined that a case may be removed based on federal question jurisdiction whenever a defendant attributed a federal constitutional issue not alleged or advanced in a well-pleaded complaint, federal question jurisdiction could potentially be expanded to all cases containing tacit First Amendment issues.”

Diocesan officials expressed their gratitude for the decision.

“We are very pleased that Judge Houck remanded the case to state court,” said Jim Lewis, Canon to Bishop Lawrence. “The issues involved are essentially those of legal identity and are wholly determined by state law, so the most appropriate place to settle is clearly in state court, where we first took the matter.”

With the case remanded, it returns to the court of South Carolina Circuit Judge Dianne S. Goodstein.

The Diocese disassociated from the Episcopal Church after the denomination attempted to remove Bishop Mark Lawrence. Following the Diocese’s decision, 49 churches representing 80 percent of the Diocese’s 30,000 members have confirmed their disassociation from TEC.

The Diocese has consistently disagreed with TEC’s embrace of what most members of the global Anglican Communion believe to be a radical fringe scriptural interpretation that makes following Christ’s teachings optional for salvation.

IN OTHER NEWS The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council agreed June 10 to increase the church’s aid to continuing Episcopalians in South Carolina and in the Diocese of San Joaquin. Answering a request from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, council agreed to expand a promised line of credit by $300,000, which will make available a total of $550,000 through the end of 2013.

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