CANA Wins First Round In Court – Next Up, Is The Virginia Division Statute Constitutional

Read it all, and carefully. In May, the court will hear argument only on the Constitutionality of the statute under the First Amendment. Thereafter, ECUSA may try to put on evidence to prove that the Virginia statute violates the contracts clause of the constitution, which is probably some cute David Booth Bears invention based on a constitutional provision that intended the states not to be able to impair the obligation of contracts in order to standardize insolvency laws. The obligation of the contract being impaired would be…you guessed it…the Dennis Canon. I am willing to predict that this argument will fall flat on its face.

8 Responses to “CANA Wins First Round In Court – Next Up, Is The Virginia Division Statute Constitutional”

  1. 1 Timothy Fountain April 4, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    I loved the line about how TEC’s argument “blinks at reality.” A real dis to the party line about how “all is well” and “there are just a few crank dissenters.”

  2. 2 David+ April 4, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    It seems that all of the Episcopal Organization “blinks at reality” these days. May it swiftly be put out of its misery.

  3. 3 Pat Briney April 4, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Interesting and comprehensive opinion. Judge Bellows was being polite when he wrote “…it blinks at reality to characterize the ongoing division within the Diocese, ECUSA, and the Anglican Communion as anything but a division of the first magnitude…”

    Nonetheless it was all to clear at our Diocesan Convention in Oct. that many in Western La. prefer their comfortable illusions to the reality of the destruction of our church.

  4. 4 Jeffersonian April 4, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    I don’t see how this statute could possibly be unconstitutional insofar as it is entirely neutral in content and intent. The irony, of course, is that TEO, in the same breath, will ask secular courts to enforce the Dennis Canon against these same parishes.

  5. 5 Jeff in CA April 4, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Pat, that’s an interesting comment:

    Nonetheless it was all to clear at our Diocesan Convention in Oct. that many in Western La. prefer their comfortable illusions to the reality of the destruction of our church.

    I think this is true with respect to the broader conflicts that divide us, but also with respect to the more narrow question of property ownership. I think that parishes, dioceses, and the national church carefully avoided addressing the legal murk created by Supreme Court caselaw in the late 1970s and the related passage of the Dennis Canon, because to address those issues squarely would be admitting that a split was possible. Now, we’re left with thirty years of avoidance and reliance on conflicting suppositions about who owns what. Messy.

    Maybe it’s good that churches don’t go into a relationship planning for it to break down – that’s the argument against a pre-nup in the context of marriage. But it sure makes for a mess at the end, when things fall apart.

  6. 6 Joe Roberts April 5, 2008 at 1:21 am

    To all, but especially Pat with regard to your comment regarding the “comfortable illusion” of many of the delegates at last October’s convention:

    This year’s convention will be a watershed event for the Diocese of Western Louisiana and for all othrodox Episcopalians in the diocese. Make no mistake that we will be at a crossroads. Life within TEC is going to get far worse for orthodox Episcopalians / Anglicans before it can get better. The die is very clearly cast and The Presiding Litigator is no longer being very careful about showing her true colors.

    At last October’s convention there was only one resolution presented and it was very, very mild (I know because I helped write it) – – all that we proposed was to support +Bruce’s efforts to seek Alternate Pastoral Oversight. Remember dear friends that the vote was favorable in the lay order, but not by that much and it was defeated in the clergy order. The reasons for the “no” votes that I’ve heard about were not that those voting “no” opposed +Bruce’s position, but that they either claimed not to understand what was being proposed or felt that the proposal was premature.

    To all that come to convention 2008 as delegates and alternates, please, please come prepared and having done your homework. This year’s convention will not be a party; it will be work, and serious work – – at least I pray that it will be.

    God’s peace to all.

  7. 7 Rudy April 5, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Brad, would you be willing to look further into your crystal ball and tell us more about how you predict the remaining issues in the Virginia case will go? I’m sure that we all realize predictions of how legal cases will go are very tentative.


  8. 8 descant April 5, 2008 at 7:41 pm


    I don’t really know. I feel I can comment on the Constitutional arguments because those are legal – law that anyone can look up in books. As to the facts of the case – what the deeds say, what documents have been signed by whom and when, what resolutions and other whatevers have been passed by various churches – I don’t have a clue as to what they say.

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