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Memorandum No. 1229

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October 26 2012
In Re: Request from the College of Bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction for a Declaratory Decision as to the Constitutionality, Meaning, Application, and Effect of ¶ 408.3a, with Reference to ¶¶ 16.5, 50, 358.3, and 362.2

Decision

The College of Bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction on June 17, 2012, voted to request a declaratory decision by the Judicial Council “on the constitutionality, meaning, application and effect of paragraph 408.3a.” The request came before a hearing called by the South Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy regarding a hearing date that had been set for the consideration of involuntary retirement of a bishop from that jurisdiction. The authority for the consideration of involuntary retirement was ¶408.3(a) of the 2008 Discipline. In the College of Bishops’ request for a declaratory decision the following questions were listed:

1. Is ¶ 408.3a in conflict with any part of the Constitution, particularly ¶¶ 50 and 16.5? 2. Since a Bishop retains status as an Elder, do the following paragraphs of the 2008 Book of Discipline have analogous implications? ¶ 358.3 (Speaks to the necessity for action by a body, i.e. Jurisdictional Conference, rather than simply a Committee or Board); ¶ 362.2 ( c) (Involuntary Retirement is a recommendation to a larger body, rather than an action of a smaller Committee or Board) 3. If there is no constitutional conflict, what procedures guide the Committee to ensure due process? 4. If there is a conflict with any part of the Constitution, what aspects of ¶ 408 provide a process by which the South Central Jurisdictional Conference and/or its Episcopacy Committee has the authority to place one of its bishops on retired status involuntarily?
JURISDICTION
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction only as to question one pursuant to ¶ 2610 of the 2008 Discipline. The Judicial Council has as a fundamental principle that it will not answer moot and hypothetical questions. See Decision 33. Questions 2, 3, and 4 do not address a specific paragraph of the Discipline, which is a requirement for a declaratory decision. Regarding question five, the College of Bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction respectfully asked permission to withdraw the question; that request is granted.
DIGEST
Pursuant to ¶ 2608.2 the requisite number of votes needed for establishing unconstitutionality of ¶ 408.3(a) was not obtained. Hence ¶ 408.3(a) remains constitutional. Beth Capen was absent. Sandra Lutz, first lay alternate, recused and did not participate in this decision. Kurt Glassco, second lay alternate participated in this decision.

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