Virginia Supreme Court Announces It Will Hear Episcopal Church Case

The Supreme Court of Virginia notified involved parties today that it will hear arguments in a case brought by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia challenging the constitutionality of Virginia’s so-called “division statute” and subsequent decisions at the circuit court level, which allowed former Episcopalians to claim Episcopal Church property as their own.

Henry H. W. Burt, secretary of the Episcopal Diocese, said in a statement today, “For more than 200 years, the Episcopal Church has had the freedom to govern itself without government interference…We believe this law is clearly unconstitutional and there is too much at stake for all churches of Virginia to let it remain in effect.” He noted that 15 other churches, dioceses, judicatories and national denominations, both hierarchical and congregational in structure, have submitted “friends of the court” briefs in support of the Diocese’s position.

The Supreme Court indicated it will hear arguments in the case during the week of April 12-16.