Attorneys for Bishop Jack Iker and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth have filed a Motion for Expedited Oral Argument with the Texas Supreme Court to adjudicate its property dispute with the national Episcopal Church and its Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.
The motion filed on 6 July 2012 noted that on 23 April “an amicus brief was filed in this case by seven bishops and three priests of The Episcopal Church (TEC). The brief supported the Fort Worth Diocese’s arguments that, should Texas adopt the Deference approach rather Neutral Principles for church property disputes, the final authority in the Episcopalian tradition on such disputes is the local bishop, not TEC’s national administrative office.”
In retaliation for filing the brief, attorneys for the diocese stated that “disciplinary complaints have been filed against the seven amicus bishops for their actions in filing the amicus brief in this case.”
To prevent further “collateral repercussions” the diocese asked the court to move forward oral argument.
Delay in adjudicating the case would cause harm to the parties. “The continuing uncertainty surrounding the potential eviction of more than 50 congregations from their church buildings has contributed to losses in membership and funds at some of the Diocese’s congregations that may prove irreparable,” the diocese said, adding that Canon Charles A. Hough III, who had signed the original affidavit, “along with five other priests have now left the Diocese, and were ordained last week as Roman Catholic priests.”
“Petitioners respectfully request that this Court expedite resolution of this appeal before these losses multiply,” the diocese said.
The Texas Supreme Court is under no obligation to honor the request for an expedited hearing, and will likely consider the reply filed by the national church and its Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth before it responds.