Supreme Court denies cert. in two church property cases

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied certiorari (Order List in two cases involving property ownership disputes between break-away congregations and their parent church bodies. One was Gauss v. Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Connecticut, (Docket No. 11-1139, cert. denied 6/18/2012), in which the Connecticut Supreme Court had held that the church’s “Dennis Canon” establishes an express trust of church property in favor of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Connecticut.

In the second case, Timberridge Presbyterian Church v. Presbytery of Greater Atlanta,(Docket No. 11-1101, cert. denied 6/18/2012),the Georgia Supreme Court had held, applying the neutral principles of law doctrine, that the break-away congregation’s property was held in trust for the parent church. In a third church property case whose petition for certiorari had been coordinated with Timberridge, the Supreme Court last month dismissed the petition for certiorari upon motion of all the parties. In that case, 

Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of Christ Church in Savannah v. Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, (Docket No. 11-1166, dismissed 5/21/2012), the Georgia Supreme Court had also held that the congregation’s property belongs to the parent body, the Episcopal Church. (See prior related posting.) [Thanks to Stephen Blakeman for the lead.