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Decision No. 489

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October 30 1980
In Re: Constitutionality of Equitable Salary Plan Provision Dealing With a Refusal by a Full Time Pastor of a Ministerial Appointment Above the Equitable Salary Level.

Digest of Case

The Judicial Council cannot render a declaratory decision or review the request of the Louisiana Annual Conference as an appeal because the request does not fall into any of the prescribed situations in which the Judicial Council may assume jurisdiction under the Discipline.

Statement of Facts

A report of the Louisiana Annual Conference Commission on Equitable Salaries contained the following paragraph: h. If a full time pastor refuses to accept appointment that will raise that person's salary above the Equitable Salary level of the Conference they shall be removed from the Equitable Salary role. Upon motion, the Chancellor was asked to rule on the legality of the paragraph. The Conference Chancellor ruled that the paragraph was constitutional. A motion was then made that the Annual Conference request the Judicial Council to make a declaratory decision as to the constitutionality of the paragraph in question. The motion was carried. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council lacks jurisdiction in this case. ANALYSIS The authority of the Judicial Council to render a declaratory decision stems from Par. 2615 of the 1980 Discipline. Such authority permits the Judicial Council to act regarding ". . . the constitutionality, meaning, application, or effect of the Discipline or any portion thereof or of any act or legislation of a General Conference . . . " The action of the Louisiana Conference does not fall into that category. (See Decisions 29, 255, 301, 434.) Under Par. 2612 of the Discipline there is a provision for the Judicial Council to ". . . pass upon and affirm, modify, or reverse the decisions of law made by bishops ... upon questions of law submitted to them in writing in the regular business of a session . . . " The request before the Judicial Council does not meet that criterion. In Par. 2611 of the Discipline the Council is authorized to ". . . hear and determine any appeal from a bishop's decision on a question of law ... when said appeal has been made by one fifth of that conference present and voting." The record does not indicate that a decision was made by the bishop. Hence, the matter at hand does not fall within the scope of the provisions of Par. 2611 of the Discipline. (See Decision 230.)

Decision

For the reasons set forth above the Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction in this case.

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