Response asks SC Supreme Court to deny post-opinion motions

Episcopal Church in South Carolina press statement on its response to motions for a rehearing

The South Carolina Supreme Court should deny the post-opinion motions filed by a breakaway group on September 1, as they are without merit and offer no legal basis for granting a rehearing, according to a legal response filed Monday by The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

The response asks the Supreme Court to deny a motion for a rehearing on its ruling August 2 in favor of the Episcopal Church parties. It also asks the court to deny a motion seeking to have one of the five justices who wrote the opinion recused from the case. The motions “present two types of arguments: arguments that are wrong and rehashed, and arguments that are wrong and untimely,” the response says.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevents civil authorities from interfering in a church’s internal governance. The overwhelming weight of precedent, both in courts across the United States and in South Carolina’s courts, upholds the state Supreme Court’s ruling awarding property and assets to The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

Regarding the motion for recusal, the response notes that Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn’s opinion is legally sound and is fully supported by precedents established by the state Supreme Court and many other jurisdictions around the country, including the United States Supreme Court. The breakaway group is seeking to have Justice Hearn’s opinion vacated because she is an Episcopalian. Any motion for recusal should have happened at the beginning of the appeal, the response says. “All Respondents proffer is rhetoric and unfounded allegations. …The manner in which Respondents have conducted themselves demonstrates little regard for the Court and one of its members.” 

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