TEC’s essential legal arguments can be distilled down to one proposition: TEC claims to be a “hierarchical” church, with complete, top-down control of the entire organization.
“There are multiple and significant problems with these assertions in this case as detailed in this brief,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary. “First, TEC’s organizational structure is irrelevant to this case. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled clearly and repeatedly that in property matters of this sort courts not only can, but should decide them based upon ‘neutral principles of law’ if that can resolve all the issues. That means questions of ownership can be settled on the same basis as in any secular case.”
An example of this point is the 2009 decision of the All Saints case by the South Carolina Supreme Court. As in any litigation involving churches, doctrinal issues are often involved. However, if the court can decide the matter applying the customary laws of property ownership, it may do so. That occurred in All Saints.