Skip Navigation

Judicial Council Decisions Search


Decision No. 633

Back to Search

Share:

October 26 1989
In Re: Constitutionality of ¶¶ 726.5(a), 734.1, 735.1, 737.2, 741.2, 754.1, 2512.1, 2518, 2524, and Any Other Paragraphs of the 1988 Disciplinewhich Mandate Guaranteed Representation of Clergy, Laymen and Laywomen.

Digest of Case

All paragraphs of the Discipline which mandate guaranteed representation of clergy, laymen and laywomen on boards and agencies at any level of the church are unconstitutional. Those paragraphs which "recommend" or ask that "special attention" be given to membership of certain categories of persons are constitutional.

Statement of Facts

The North Arkansas Annual Conference in session on June 6, 1989, voted to request a declaratory decision on the constitutionality of paragraphs of the 1988 Discipline that mandate guaranteed representation of clergy, laymen and laywomen. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2615 of the 1988 Discipline. ANALYSIS In Decision 601, we referred to Decision 594 in which we reaffirmed our long-standing position that ¶¶ 4 and 15.14 of the Constitution forbid "any legislation which would guarantee a preferred status not extended to others." Par. 15.14 has been interpreted in Decisions 4 and 5 of the Interim Judicial Council and in Decisions 427, 433, 442, 451, 540, 558, 567, 588, 594 and 601, consistently upholding the principle of non-restrictiveness based on race or status. We were specific in Decision 601 to indicate that the mandate of this opinion not become effective until the next election of boards so as to not disrupt the work of boards and agencies. In that decision, we were dealing with quadrennially-elected boards. What we have held with regard to general program boards, we now find for those paragraphs enumerated by the North Arkansas Annual Conference request, and any other paragraphs of the Discipline, indicating, as we did in Decision 601, that where the language specifies "recommends" or asks that it be considered, but not mandated, there is no violation of ¶¶ 4 or 15.14. The status of previously elected members of boards and agencies is not affected.

Decision

All paragraphs of the Discipline which mandate guaranteed representation of clergy, laymen and laywomen on boards and agencies at any level of the church are unconstitutional. Those paragraphs which "recommend" or ask that "special attention" be given to membership of certain categories of persons are constitutional.

Back to Search

Share: