Separation of Powers
Desert Southwest Annual Conference experienced a small probing attack on the issue of the judicial powers of a bishop that were not subject to any kind of review. A group of pastors who may be sympathetic to the traditionalists’ side of church politics asked for a ruling on the right of bishops to drop charges. (While dropping charges can and should happen in some cases, my experience is that bishops do not drop charges unless it may relate in “Arminian” conferences to LGBTQI cases. Hence my presumption. I may be incorrect.)
Being on the other side of the political spectrum from them, my question would be, should bishops be the ones to make a judgment about any complaint that in civil parlance would go to court officers like a district attorney. I would have considered submitting a friend of the court brief in support of the request for a declaratory decision, though I would have expanded its scope considerably. (Obviously, I was not paying attention when this matter was docketed.)
Unfortunately, the Council does not deal with such requests unless there is a case that is before the annual conference which could be changed based on the rulings requested.
I have argued for years that requests for declaratory decisions are prospective so that the Council can advise the Church on what to do under the Disciplinary passages in question. I think the Council should have taken jurisdiction as it did in JCD 1383 which also had no specific case as a reference..
Here again, without a law degree and without long experience in civil law, I am probably missing something and not understanding why the Council rules on its jurisdiction as it does. I am open to instruction on this!