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Decision No. 480

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April 22 1980
In Re: Legal Status or Effect of Footnotes in the Discipline.

Digest of Case

Footnotes in the Discipline have the status or effect of law only to the extent that they cite law. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2515 of the Discipline.

Statement of Facts

By action of the General Conference, April 21, 1980, the Judicial Council was petitioned for a declaratory decision as to the legality of the footnotes in the Discipline. Particular reference was made to a proposed footnote to Par. 404. (Calendar Item 124, DCA page 306) Much of this footnote was adopted in 1976 but through editorial omission was not included in the 1976 Discipline. ANALYSIS While there may be instances in which a footnote as to law may have the effect of law, a footnote as to reference, information or explanation may not be accepted as law. The 1976 Discipline used footnotes for reference (e.g. "See Judicial Council Decisions"), for information (e.g. "Amended 1968, see Judicial Council Decision 333, 402" page 22, Discipline), or for explanation (e.g. Footnote 1, Preamble of the Constitution, page 20, Discipline). The footnote set forth in Calendar Item 124 is interpretive and explanatory. It gathers from several sources in the Discipline issues and procedures involved in the evaluation of the character of a minister. The footnote to Par. 404 is normative as an expression of the current judgment of the General Conference. The proposed footnote to Par. 404 contains some citations of law but is a footnote of explanation and its purpose is explanatory and informative.

Decision

Footnotes in the Discipline have the status or effect of law only to the extent that they cite law.

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