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Decision No. 1090

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April 24 2008
In Re: Request from the 2008 General Conference for a Declaratory Decision as to the Constitutionality of Various Petitions Requesting Mandatory Membership Requirements for Selected Groups.

Digest of Case

The proposed petitions referred to the Judicial Council seek to mandate membership of the General Conference and/or boards and agencies. The petitions related either to disabled persons, youth on all boards, Central Conference members on boards, youth or young adults as General Conference delegates, or youth from Central Conferences as delegates to General Conference. All these petitions, if adopted, would guarantee a preferred status and are, therefore, unconstitutional.

Statement of Facts

The 2008 General Conference requested a declaratory decision of the Judicial Council as to the constitutionality of petitions related to mandating membership of General Conference and/or boards and agencies (Petition numbers 81299-GA-705, 81524-GA-705,81300-GA-705.5, 81517-CO-13-1-c, 81518-CO-13.1-3, 81522-CO-502.1). Each petition seeks to mandate membership of the General Conference and/or board and agencies related either to disabled persons, youth on all boards, Central Conference members on boards, youth or young adults as General Conference delegates, or youth from Central Conferences as delegates to General Conference.

Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609.2 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Decisions 594 and 601 address the matter of disciplinary requirements for membership in general boards and agencies in The United Methodist Church. In those decisions, we held “any legislation which would guarantee a preferred status not extended to others” was unconstitutional. The petitions, if adopted, would guarantee a preferred status and are, therefore, unconstitutional. Decision 601 states that disciplinary provisions which “recommend” or ask that “special attention” be given to membership of certain categories of persons on general boards are constitutional. (See ¶ 705.3 i) of the 2004 Discipline for example.)

Decision

The proposed petitions referred to the Judicial Council seek to mandate membership of the General Conference and/or boards and agencies. The petitions related either to disabled persons, youth on all boards, Central Conference members on boards, youth or young adults as General Conference delegates, or youth from Central Conferences as delegates to General Conference. All these petitions, if adopted, would guarantee a preferred status and are therefore unconstitutional. Shamwange P. Kyungu was absent. C. Rex Bevins, the first clergy alternate, participated in this decision.

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