NOTES --- 26 FEBRUARY 2020
Since we have not heard otherwise, we may assume Judge Edgar Dickson will proceed with the hearing he scheduled for tomorrow. It is to be at 10:00 a.m. in the Orangeburg courthouse. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend. I expect the Episcopal diocese to post a report about the hearing by the end of the day tomorrow. I will post commentary here after I have received a first-hand report of what transpired in the hearing.
Judge Dickson stated as the topic of the hearing the Episcopal diocese's motions for implementation of the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017. Long ago, EDSC petitioned Dickson to enact the decision, particularly by a special master and an accounting. However, at the last hearing, Dickson asked the two sides to submit proposed orders for a decision on the Anglican diocese's Motion for Clarification of Jurisdiction (they submitted the proposed orders a few weeks ago). That motion asked the court to set aside the SCSC decision on property and to have the circuit court decide who owns the 29 parishes in question and the Camp. It makes no sense to me that Dickson would jump from the ADSC Motion for Clarification to EDSC's motion for implementation. These two motions are contradictory.
All of this is complicated by the fact that the Episcopal diocese has gone to the state supreme court asking for a writ of prohibition to keep Dickson from ruling on the ADSC motion for clarification. So far, there has been no response from the SCSC on this. I do not see how Dickson can proceed with a ruling on the Motion for Clarification until we get a ruling from the SCSC on the writ. So, I really do not see much point in having a hearing tomorrow. What can be accomplished before a response from the SCSC?
Meanwhile, the anti-Episcopal Church side continues to misrepresent the litigation. They are saying the SCSC decision does not say what it says. They refuse to recognize the three majority orders on the last page. They assert that the five separate opinions that the justices wrote meant no decision. This is not true. On the last page, the court listed the three majority decisions. They are explicit. A majority recognized that the Episcopal Church owns the 29 parishes and the Episcopal diocese owns the Camp. It does not matter that the justices wrote separate opinions explaining their votes. That is irrelevant to the majority decisions. Moreover, the Anglicans insist the way the justices arrived at their decisions invalidated the majority decisions. For instance, Chief Justice Beatty said a parish had to give explicit accession to the Dennis Canon and yet no evidence was presented of explicit accession. How the justices arrived at their decisions is also irrelevant. The only thing that matters in any supreme court decision is the majority decision. How the justices arrived at the decision is irrelevant. Most seriously, the Anglicans assert that the circuit court can and must re-litigate the property issue in blatant contradiction of the August 2 SCSC decision. In fact, the SCSC has settled the property issue. A circuit court does not have the right to discard a supreme court decision and re-litigate the issues of law that were resolved in the decision. So, the Anglican leadership continues to misinform and mislead their people.
This is not surprising considering the Anglican leadership's track record of dealing with the truth. In the last two days in his blog, Kendall Harmon, an officer of the Anglican diocese, twice called the EDSC "the brand new TEC Diocese in South Carolina" and the ADSC "the Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina." Judge Gergel has TWICE ordered the ADSC to cease and desist from claiming to be the historic diocese. In fact, there is a legal injunction in place. Moreover, both Gergel and the federal appeals court have refused to stay the injunction pending the appeal. The Anglican leadership would be wise to remember that the federal court has recognized the Episcopal diocese as the legal and legitimate historic diocese and the Anglican diocese as a new creation in 2012.
Not questionable is the fact that today is Ash Wednesday, a somber and sobering day. We are humbled to remember from whence we came. However, we know that forty days from now will be a glorious rebirth when the darkness will turn to light again, as it does every year.
Speaking of darkness, the political situation today is most unsettling. Last night's Democratic debate was a disaster. Trump and the Russians must be celebrating today. As of this moment, it looks as if Bernie will be the Dem nominee. Although I admire him greatly, I firmly believe he cannot get elected president. Trump and the right-wing media machine will smear this "socialist" to scare off moderate voters. The thought of another four years of President Trump is, well, I will save that for another day. We have enough downers for today.
You in South Carolina are called to vote this Saturday, if you have not done so already. I hope you will vote.
I vote next Tuesday when Alabama and fourteen other states will hold their primaries. As so many other Democrats, I still have not decided for sure for whom to vote but am now leaning to Pete. I was leaning to Warren yesterday. Then, last night she went off the rails on Bloomberg and accused him of telling a woman to get an abortion. That woman's word was many years old and had never had any evidence. It was a baseless accusation that had no place in a televised debate. Warren meant to diminish Bloomberg, but only tarnished herself. I think she is toast. Buttigieg, on the other hand is the brightest, best informed, most articulate, most consensus-building of the candidates. He probably would not win, but I want to thank him for being there and giving reason to an otherwise crazy time.