The United Methodist Judicial Council has received a petition for a declaratory decision from the Council of Bishops regarding the constitutionality of two General Conference legislative items, Petitions 90052 and 90078.
In giving notice of the bishops’ petition, the denomination’s top court set a 3 p.m. CST Feb. 23 deadline for the submission of opening briefs and a 5 p.m. CST deadline for the submission of reply briefs.
Petition 90052, submitted by Lonnie Brooks, focuses on chargeable offenses found in the United Methodist Book of Discipline in Paragraph 2702.1b — “practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teaching, including but not limited to ...” The petition makes changes related to the supervisory and just resolution processes.
“This petition appears to cross the separate lines of power between the episcopal, administrative and judicial functions and powers similar to other petitions ruled unconstitutional in Judicial Council Decision 1366,” the bishops’ petition said.
In Decision 1366, the court pointed to possible issues with 17 petitions in the Traditional Plan and a few petitions in the One Church Plan. Judicial Council did find the One Church Plan largely constitutional at that time.
Petition 90078, submitted by the Rev. Maxie Dunnam, refers to the Modified Traditional Plan and would create a global episcopacy committee that addresses complaints against bishops related to chargeable offenses. That petition also “appears to violate the separation of powers doctrine,” the bishops said.
Guidelines on how to prepare briefs can be found on the Judicial Council website. Electronic copies of briefs should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bloom is the assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York.
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