Another Big Law and Religion Case on the Horizon?

Religious property disputes may be headed back to the Supreme Court

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Today a scholars' brief was filed at the Supreme Court supporting cert in Schulz v. Presbytery of Seattle, a case about whether the Religion Clauses require courts to apply "neutral principles" in religious property disputes. The scholars on the brief were Stephanie Barclay, Richard Epstein, Kellen Funk, Chaim Saiman, Anna Su, Eugene Volokh, and me. If you want to read more, you can find our brief here. And you can find the cert petition by Michael McConnell here.

Religious property disputes involve some of the central concerns of both the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause. Our brief urges the Court to finish the work it started in Jones v. Wolf. As we say in the conclusion, "This case presents an ideal vehicle to repudiate the denominational deference approach and declare that, when it comes to disputes over church property, a court's sole function is to apply ordinary principles of law."

A big thank you to Paul Zidlicky, Jacqueline Cooper, and Daniel Hay from Sidley for the excellent assistance on the brief.


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  1. I was surprised to find a typographical error in that brief.

    I gather this case relates mostly to fights between squabbling factions — customarily liberal against conservative — within a church, each group seeking control of the real estate and any other valuable assets. The list of professors suggests this brief roots for the conservatives from a practical perspective.

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