Wednesday, June 12, 2013

South Carolina Episcopal Diocese Property Dispute Sent Back To State Court

In Protestant Episcopal Church In The Diocese Of South Carolina v. The Episcopal Church, (D SC, June 10, 2013), a South Carolina federal district court remanded to the state court a lawsuit over church property that had been removed to federal court.  In the case, the break-away Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina originally filed suit in state court against The Episcopal Church to establish the break-away Diocese's right to the real and personal property of the Diocese and its parishes. (See prior posting.) The Episcopal Church through its state affiliate, removed the case to federal court claiming that the case raises federal questions under the 1st Amendment and the Lanham Act. The court, however, emphasized that plaintiffs' complaint raised only claims based on South Carolina statutes. For removal, a federal issue must be an essential element in plaintiff's case, raised on the face of its complaint. Any 1st Amendment issue in this case is essentially a defense. Anglican Curmudgeon and Episcopal Church in South Carolina discuss the decision from opposite perspectives.

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