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Memorandum No. 889

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May 10 2000
In Re: Request from the General Conference for a Declaratory Decision as to Whether a Vote Taken by General Conference on a Legislative Petition is Valid if Only a Portion of That Petition Has Been Printed in the Daily Christian Advocate Advanced Edition and in the Daily Christian Advocate.

Digest of Case

Requests for declaratory decisions which do not deal with constitutional issues require an affirmative vote from a majority of the General Conference members present and voting. In this matter, there were fewer than a majority of the members who voted affirmatively for referral and, therefore, the Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction.

Statement of Facts

On May 10, 2000 at a plenary session, a General Conference member moved: to request a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council as to whether a vote taken by the General Conference is valid if only a portion of the petition is made available to the delegates. Specifically the portion of Petition 31789 re: ¶ 2602, indicating that the action would take effect immediately, was not made available to the delegates of the Conference. Fewer than a majority of the members of the General Conference present and voting, but greater than one-fifth of those members, voted in favor of the request and the matter was referred to the Judicial Council pursuant to ¶ 2609.1 which reads: The Judicial Council shall determine the constitutionality of any act of the General Conference upon an appeal by a majority of the Council of Bishops or one fifth of the members of the General Conference. The Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction in this matter. Par. 2609.1 deals specifically with a request for a determination of constitutionality, and as such, provides for referral to the Judicial Council with less than a majority affirmative vote for requests from the General Conference. In the instant matter, the request was for a declaratory decision, and, with no constitutional question at issue, the request comes under ¶ 2616. Although that paragraph could be more clearly written as to the affirmative vote required for referral, there is no reference to less than a majority affirmative vote for a request for a declaratory decision. In this matter, a majority of the General Conference members did not vote for referral. The Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction. A request for oral argument was denied for the reason that the Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction. John G. Corry recused himself and did not take part in any of the proceedings related to this decision.

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