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Decision No. 601

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October 28 1988
In Re: Constitutionality of Representational Requirements for General Program Board Membership.

Digest of Case

Disciplinary provisions which mandate guaranteed representation of a preferred status on general program boards are unconstitutional.

Statement of Facts

The Judicial Council was directed by the 1988 General Conference to rule on the constitutionality of certain portions of 805.2(a) and (c) of the Discipline ). The disciplinary paragraphs, in pertinent part, read as follows:

(a) Each jurisdiction shall elect one person from each of its Annual and Missionary Conferences to each program board. The jurisdiction membership on each program board shall incorporate one-third clergy (at least one of whom shall be a woman), one-third laymen, and one-third laywomen (with the exception of 1412.2), and shall ensure adequate representation of youth ( 263.2), young adults ( 263.3) and older adults ( 263.5)....

(c) Additional members shall be elected by each general program board in order to bring into the board special knowledge or background and to perfect the representation of racial and ethnic minority persons, youth ( 263.2), young adults ( 263.3), older adults ( 263.5), persons with a handicapping condition, and distribution by geographic area. There shall be not less than five nor more than twelve additional members of each general program board. Such additional membership shall maintain the one-third laymen, one-third laywomen, and one-third clergy balance.

 

Jurisdiction

The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under 2615 of the 1984 Discipline.

Analysis and Rationale

We spoke most recently in Decision 594 on the matter of disciplinary requirements as to membership in constituent bodies in The United Methodist Church. There we reaffirmed our long-standing position that 4 and 15.14 forbade, "any legislation which would guarantee a preferred status not extended to others." Thus, that portion of 805.2(a) which provides, "The jurisdiction membership on each program board shall incorporate one-third clergy (at least one of whom shall be a woman), one-third laymen, and one-third laywomen, and shall ensure adequate representation of youth, young adults and older adults", (emphasis added) since it mandates guaranteed representation of a preferred status, is unconstitutional.

Because it contains the same mandatory language, we also hold that portion of 805.2(c) which provides "[s]uch additional membership [of program boards] shall maintain the one-third laymen, one-third laywomen, and one-third clergy balance" (emphasis added) to be unconstitutional.

The provisions of 805.2(a), however, which state they are "in order to ensure" the adequate representation on general program boards of certain racial and ethnic minorities and persons with a handicapping condition are constitutional. In the language in question "it is recommended that at least 25 percent of a jurisdiction membership on each general program board be racial and ethnic minority persons" and that "[s]pecial attention shall be given to the inclusion of persons with a handicapping condition." (emphasis added) This does not mandate or guarantee a preferred status; rather it only "recommends" certain action be taken or urges "special attention" be given. There is no violation of 4 or 15.14.

Similarly, the provisions of 805.2(c) that "[a]dditional members shall be elected by each general program board in order to bring into the board special knowledge or background and to perfect the representation of racial and ethnic minority persons, youth ( 263.2), young adults ( 263.3), older adults ( 263.5), persons with a handicapping condition, and distribution by geographic area" give no guaranteed preferred status not extended to others. Therefore, these provisions do not violate either 4 or 15.14 and are constitutional.

Since the General Conference called upon us to determine only the validity of mandatory representation on general program boards we express no opinion as to other representational mandates in the Discipline. See, e.g., 1412.2, 1412.6. Furthermore, so as not to disrupt the work of the general program boards for the 1989-1992 quadrennium, the mandate of this opinion will not become effective until the election of general program boards for the 1993-1996 quadrennium.

Decision

Those portions of 805.2(a) and (c) which mandate guaranteed representation of clergy, laymen and laywomen on general program boards are unconstitutional. Those provisions of 805.2(a) and (c) which "recommend" or ask that "special attention" be given to membership of certain categories of persons on general program boards are constitutional.

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