Episcopal Schism: Supreme Court Justice Wasn’t Asked To Recuse Herself

OMISSION COULD SWAY LANDMARK RULING … || By FITSNEWS || Earlier this week we published a report on S.C. Supreme Court justice Kaye Hearn – who is severely conflicted as it relates to her court’s consideration of the Palmetto State’s great “Episcopal Schism.” First uncovered by this website in late 2012,…


|| By FITSNEWS || Earlier this week we published a report on S.C. Supreme Court justice Kaye Hearn – who is severely conflicted as it relates to her court’s consideration of the Palmetto State’s great “Episcopal Schism.”

First uncovered by this website in late 2012, the schism involves conservative Episcopal churches seeking to disassociate themselves from the liberal national church over the issues of gay marriage and the ordination of gay clergy.  Back in February, S.C. circuit court judge Diane Goodstein ruled these conservative congregations had a right to bolt.

“With the freedom to associate goes its corollary, the freedom to disassociate,” Goodstein ruled.

We concur.  In fact we’ve supported the breakaway congregations from the very beginning of this drama.

The Supreme Court is now hearing an appeal of Goodstein’s ruling, with Hearn repeatedly evidencing a clear bias in favor of the national church during oral arguments last week.  As we reported earlier this week, Hearn is a member of a liberal Episcopal church – one with a gay pastor.  Not only that, she’s a member of a liberal Episcopal organization which pushed back aggressively against Bishop Mark Lawrence, the leader of the breakaway faction.

In other words she’s got no business hearing this case.

Here’s the thing though: Nobody ever asked Hearn to recuse herself.

That’s right …

None of the attorneys representing the breakaway congregations filed a motion calling on Hearn to stand aside.

Unreal …

We understand attorneys are reticent to unnecessarily draw the ire of judges – especially as they prepare to hear arguments on a case like this – but in this case Hearn’s conflict is deep and well-documented.

“Appallingly obvious,” one attorney who read our recent report noted.

We maintain Hearn should recuse herself.  Doing so would be in accordance with judicial canons expressly forbidding judges from displaying bias or prejudice based upon their religious beliefs – not to mention bias or prejudice based upon a party in the case.  Both biases appear to be in abundant supply as it relates to this case.

But since no one asked Hearn to stand aside … she’s clearly not taking it upon herself to do so.

Now the only question is whether her refusal to do so will impact the outcome of the case …


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Keith September 30, 2015 at 9:37 am

Are you going to keep pushing this Freedom of Religion argument until the case is decided? No one has told the breakaway Congregants that they must stay in the church…this is a fight over who controls the buildings and land that the church owns in the diocese, nothing more….they are free to join whatever church they want to and call themselves anything they want…they just need to go find an old movie theater or empty store front and worship as they choose

Lobeco September 30, 2015 at 9:44 am

I agree. Or one of the abandoned malls in Charleston County. This is about land, buildings and money. I bet you a dime to a dollar, if the communicants at St. Phillips lose their church building back to the national church, they will be back in the fold. Those folks are not going to sit in a mall theater in North Charleston.

The Colonel September 30, 2015 at 10:02 am

Why should they lose the building they’ve worshiped in to “worship as they chose”?

Mom September 30, 2015 at 10:12 am

Right. They paid for the building.

Bill September 30, 2015 at 11:54 am

Wrong, the 15 or 16 thousand people joining Lawrence’s Church paid very little toward the maintenance of this property. Hundreds of thousands of Episcopalians paid for this property.

Tazmaniac September 30, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Sounds like you are speaking of the dead parishioners from over the years. They have no voice,and I’d be willing to bet if they did you wouldn’t like it. Your just using them for a false argument. Unless there is a signed by all document declaring the local’s acknowledgement that they are leasing they should be allowed to keep their place of worship on a majority vote.

The Colonel September 30, 2015 at 12:46 pm

An excellent point Taz.

Bill I will take a step in your direction on this one. Should they lose, the insurgents should walk away and start over in whatever building they can find.

It would be very interesting to see how long the TEC could keep those buildings they want to hold on to so badly in operation.

Tazmaniac September 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Being Agnostic Deist, I have only only logical, secular reasoning to go by in regard to Church matters. However I find it curious to see Leftists complaining of the “Tyranny of the Minority” when it comes to conservatives, yet LGBT is barely 3% in general and more likely even less in the Church.

The Colonel September 30, 2015 at 1:59 pm

There are more than a few Atheists, Agnostics, Deist and Druids on Fits, that’s why I tend to try and take the religion out of the issue to address the underlying issue first (hence my Elk’s Club analogy). Once the underlying issue is dealt with the rest of the issues are more easily addressed.

Bill obviously has a tie to one of the “rogue congregations” and won’t separate the issue opting to obfuscate with “the Baptists are no better” rather than addressing the schism. Because I am extremely interested in religion I’ll play along as the religious debate is interesting in and of itself but we never made the circle back to the Lowcountry Episcopals.

As for the tyranny of the minority – ain’t it grand! And we as a nation fall for it every time in the name of “political correctness” and “inclusion”.

Keith September 30, 2015 at 10:29 am

Why should the congregants of the church who don’t want to leave the diocese be forced to go and find another church….please understand that this is not an entire congregation wanting to break away form the National Church…it is members within the church who don’t want to be a part of it anymore

The Colonel September 30, 2015 at 11:26 am

This is one of the major problems with hierarchical churches (Methodist, Catholic and Episcopal in particular). If the Southern Baptist Convention came out tomorrow in support of gay marriage (pun sort of intended) my local church would carry on without a missing a beat – we would beyond any shadow of a doubt disassociate with the convention but beyond sending the convention a letter to that effect and changing so financial arrangements (cooperative giving) nothing would change.

As I understand this situation it is the plurality of the congregation that wishes to disassociate – in this case, the mob should win. All members are associating freely, anyone who disagrees is obviously able to attend a different church. Perhaps each congregation should have a vote (again I understand this has occurred in a couple of them) to decide where they as a body stand.

Set aside the religion for a moment and consider this as an Elks Club. The National Elks club changes a long standing rule and says that women are no longer allowed in. The Charleston Elks Club Number 25 likes women and wants them in the club so they chose to protest the issue – the protest goes without being addressed. The Charleston Elks chose to disassociate. Should they lose their club house? Maybe they are forced to change their name by some charter arrangement but the local club should control the local club. This argument is really no different.

It is somewhat embarrassing that these issues have to be dragged into the public arena rather than being settled by the congregants as directed by the New Testament:

1 Corinthians 6:1-6 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!

Point of Order September 30, 2015 at 10:41 am

Because materiality should be the focus on church, “should” or “shouldn’t” be the issue.

From a Christian perspective we live in a broken world, so focus on their faith should take precedence over “nice church stuff”.

They can worship anywhere- even if they are getting screwed they should focus on their faith and let God take care of the rest.

God tested Job by killing off his family for crying out loud, in comparison this isn’t much of a loss.

Point of Order September 30, 2015 at 10:42 am

edit: “SHOULDN’T be the focus in the church” (I really mangled that first sentence)

Christian Values September 30, 2015 at 11:11 am

Throw up a tent and worship in there and stop spending tons of cash on lawyers. The money would be better spent helping the needy, which Christ has commanded us to do.

Bill September 30, 2015 at 11:15 am

I don’t know Colonel, why should I lose the building I have worshiped my entire life. I am an Episcopalian. I and my family helped pay for all of these buildings, as have literally hundreds of thousands of Episcopalians before me. Now Lawrence’s church, whatever it is, and his approximately 15 or 16 thousands members want to walk away with the Parish Property. In that event I will be forced to leave forever the property I and my family paid thousands of dollars to support. Just as did our predecessors. The people following Lawrence have paid virtually nothing for this property.
We are not Baptists. We did not intend to contribute to a “whatever you want to believe” local group.

The Colonel September 30, 2015 at 11:48 am

Bill – Maybe you should try attending a “whatever you want to believe” Baptist church before you start picking on them, you might find the truth is very different than your opinion.

This issue has to be decided by each congregation – why would you stay in a church where the minister taught something you could not support? It is anathema for a Baptist to do that.

Bill September 30, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Just because one priest believes something I do not believe does not mean I should leave my Parish. I am sure there are plenty of Baptist preachers that have had beliefs and taught things not everyone in their congregation believes. That did not mean they left their local church. I have an open an honest religious debate on issues with my Priest all the time. Sometime she changes my mind, sometimes I change her’s. But a lot of the time we just agree to disagree. And that is ok. I believe she is a good person, with good intentions, who does good works, and seeks to spread the word of Christ’s love to the world. I pray for her, she prays for me. God loves us both.
People come and go. The Church is eternal. We must each do our best to discern the will of God; but those of us in hierarchical churches believe that working together, with trained theologians, we can better discern the will of god than each of us alone. We have rituals that we enjoy and that we feel bring us closer to god.
I am not going to get into all I think is wrong with Baptist Theology, because there is a lot. And lest you think I don’t know about it. My Grandmother is a life long Baptist. In her youth, if a person in her church got divorced and remarried they were asked to leave the church. That is no longer the case. So things change even for the Baptist.

The Colonel September 30, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Some Baptist churches still ask divorced members to leave under certain circumstances (generally a lack of repentance is the justification). Most Baptist churches will ask a member to step down from leadership positions until the matter is resolved. Yes, we have changed, some – the church I attended as a ute would not allow women or divorced men to serve as deacons and still doesn’t to this day.

The denomination you favor isn’t nearly as “eternal” as you think – in fact it was founded as a result of a excommunication over a divorce in 1538. Baptists date to about 1522 and were the result of a doctrinal disagreements over the form of worship, the use of the tithe and infant baptism – which represents a more serious approach to religion?

Bill September 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Ok, I am tied up now. I have to work. I feed myself, unlike those who live on the back of the taxpayers. But I will address all the hypocrisies of the Baptist and their, I can do whatever to whomever I want so long as I park my ass in a pew on Sunday and ask for forgiveness. I find absolutely zero serious about the Baptist approach religion.

The Colonel September 30, 2015 at 1:07 pm

You’ve been hanging around with the wrong Baptists then – my “freedom to do whatever I like” as you put it actually is the greatest deterrent to doing just that since I know that I and I alone am responsible for what I do and that I personally have to seek forgiveness from the Creator rather than a proxy.

Mom September 30, 2015 at 10:10 am

One of the reasons Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic Church was bc of the “top-down” ownership/leadership. If the congregants of a church want to worship in a way not consistent with the diocese, they should be allowed to break away and KEEP the building they paid for. Not much different from a divorce – you keep what is yours and I’ll keep what is mine.

stumpknocker September 30, 2015 at 10:19 am

the law is pretty clear on this as there has already been a scotus ruling, those churches that formed before the diocese may keep their buildings, those churches that formed after the diocese was formed belong to the diocese. fits would like to portray this as a fight, i as an episcopalian just feel sadness for the situation and believe those churches will reunite one day in the future

Keith September 30, 2015 at 10:32 am

some of these churches are 300 years old…and there are congregants within the church who don’t want to break away from the national church…

Bill September 30, 2015 at 11:08 am

Exactly, generations of Episcopalians, hundreds of thousands, paid for those properties, and now 15 or 16 thousand people want to walk away with it all.
The parishes agreed to become members of the national Church. I and thousands of others gave money to pay for the property of our Episcopal Church Parish. I did not give it to Lawrence’s church or to any other church. If Lawrence’s church takes over my parish property, I will have been kick out of the property I helped pay for or forced to conform to Lawrence’s religious beliefs. Essentially I am being told I cannot practice my religious beliefs in the in the property I and my family helped pay for.

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Todd September 30, 2015 at 9:59 am

Insiders are saying Toal is behind this attack on Hearn as part of Toal’s plan to help Beatty be the next chief Justice. Hearn is making noise she is going to run against Beatty due to his lack of judicial temperament and more specifically his attack on trial lawyers a while ago. Hearn is also promising lawyers to clean up the notoriously and openly corrupt Judicial and attorney discipline committees. Hearn’s husband has seen how corrupt the discipline system is when he was chairman of the BAR exam committee and Toal just did as she damned well pleased. Fits Nation, Toal is that bad and that corrupt.

Quit Essing your own D... September 30, 2015 at 10:07 am

FITSNews is like a stick of feces, hoping to intertwine itself in any chaos and rancor…then sits back and jerks-off as the devil – in the form of the Democrat Party- is unleashed..

GrandTango Loves Fecal Matter September 30, 2015 at 11:17 am

Disgusting. You should wash your mouth out.

SC Christians GAVE the money September 30, 2015 at 10:26 am

The GREEDY Homosexual Lobby wants to FORCE their morality on you…and the TAKE your property if you don’t buy into what they call sanctity.

SC Christians GAVE the money. Keep your GREEDY GAY PAWS off of it…

Keith September 30, 2015 at 10:30 am

I am a practicing Episcopalian and I gave money to some of the churches in question and I want them to stay in the diocese…there is no greed associated with this argument

Do U practice homosexuality, 2 September 30, 2015 at 11:08 am

They took a vote and YOU LOST. Get out of the church if you don’t like it. If you cannot abide by the Bible, maybe you should join the NAZI Party, or the Hell’s Angels.

But the church is there for followers of god, not a club to perpetuate immorality and pop culture whims.

Barack "The Rock" Obama September 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

“They took a vote and YOU LOST. Get out of the church if you don’t like it.”

The citizens of the United States of America took a vote too, and YOU lost. Get out of the country if you don’t like it.

The Donald September 30, 2015 at 11:14 am

Wait until they vote again in 2016, he’ll really blow his lid then. You’re welcome Hillary!

Keith September 30, 2015 at 12:19 pm

I was going to reply to your comment but I really can’t be bothered at this moment trying to speak logically to a mouth breathing troglodyte who has their head stuck in the 16th century….

Jan September 30, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Please do not respond. GT is a certifiable nut, who talks to himself and is abusive to others. His opinions are meaningless. No one listens to him or cares what he thinks. He sits around on his computer all day and talks to himself.

Don't blame you September 30, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Sorry for making you look like an ignorant Dumbfounded, Dumbass.

stumpknocker September 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm

actually you don’t, what you are doing is making yourself look like your typical garden variety asshole

A casual, informed, observer September 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm

I thought the poster presented you were a very logical and reasonable question.

The majority of the church congregation voted to follow their conscience regarding God’s word. If you don’t agree, you don’t have to go to that church.

As for any funds you may have given to the church, perhaps you should ask to get that back, because that seems to be your level of character. But a church is not obligated to follow your dictates because you voluntarily DONATED to its works. Nor is it obligated to return money you GAVE to them.

You, like the national church, need to just move on. You both seem very irrational and fixated on money. And we all all know what the love of money is.

Greedy Homosexuals September 30, 2015 at 11:10 am

Liberal Greed invades the church…

GrandTango Flip Wedding September 30, 2015 at 11:20 am

That’s right, we started going there!

Portnoy September 30, 2015 at 11:28 am

The lawyers for the breakaway church faction didn’t want to anger Hearn by asking her to recuse herself because they would have to accuse her of bias against them, and she had already sent signals to the parties that she intended to hear the case no matter what. The standard for recusal is left up to the judge. Find a reported case in South Carolina of a judge, never mind a supreme court justice, being found in error for failing to recuse himself/herself.

Episcopalians trace their roots to the Church of England, which broke away from the Catholic Church and took its assets with it. There’s your precedent: if you break away from a mother church because you disagree with its teachings on marriage, whether it deals with divorce (16th century) or gay marriage (21st century), your new church can keep assets of the mother church used by the breakaway church and the mother church can kiss your ass. If the mother church prevails here, will it demand the Church of England return its assets to the Vatican?

The Colonel September 30, 2015 at 11:51 am

They realize that by allowing Hearn to rule they have a built in appeal should she rule against them. You raise a very good point about Episcopals I had forgotten – the whole denomination came about as a result of a schism and they breakaways took all of the asssts with them.

Bill September 30, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Actually, there is no one to appeal to except the US Supreme Court, and they are highly unlikely to take the case, regardless of who wins or loses.
You and Portnoy are pretty weak on the History of the Episcopal Church, and the Church of England for that matter, but as with most Baptists you believe what you want about other denominations. I will try to refrain from criticizing the Baptist Church, even though their members never do.

The Colonel September 30, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Actually, I am far more knowledgeable than the short posts I stick here might reflect. Please tell me what I got wrong?

Bill September 30, 2015 at 11:43 am

You seem to believe that because Hearn has a religious belief different from yours that she cannot make a logical decision based on the law, which is not nearly as clear as Lawrence’s Church would have you believe. The far right nuts in this country always want it one way, their way. For example we all know that Scalia is opposed to abortion and gay marriage. We know it is against his religious beliefs and he makes no bones about it. Should he not be asked to recuse himself on all cases related to abortion or gay marriage? How about the other Catholic judges on the Court (6). Should they not be asked to recuse themselves.

Victorious Secret September 30, 2015 at 12:31 pm


(1) You pretend to know the legal tactics of counsel? How arrogant and ignorant can you truly be? You should read up on the plethora of case law supporting counsel’s right to pick and choose its strategy, and issues to litigate.

(2) The burden is the Justice’s to recuse herself. See SC App Rule 501, Cannon 2(B). It is quite silly to argue that counsel must prove the Justice’s bias.

Perhaps you need counsel yourself to consult before making such ridiculous posts?

west_rhino September 30, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Well, this is SC and ethics and recusal of one’s self on ethical grounds seems unknown in Columbia.

Tom September 30, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Excellent, unbiased thoughts on a complicated case.

Frieda October 1, 2015 at 7:05 am

Apparently judges have to be asked to do the right thing.


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