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Presbyterian Church in U.S. v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church

United States Supreme Court
393 U.S. 440 (1969)


Facts

Presbyterian Church in U.S. (general church) (defendant) is an association of Presbyterian churches. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church and Eastern Heights Presbyterian Church (local churches) (plaintiffs) are two local churches that believed the general church acted in contravention of its constitution and doctrine. The local churches withdrew from the general church. The general church accepted the withdrawal and sought to take over the local church properties. The local churches filed separate suits in the Superior Court of Chatham County to enjoin the general church from interfering with the possession of their properties. The cases were consolidated. The general church moved to dismiss the complaint, and the motion was denied. The jury was instructed that the church properties were held for the benefit of the general church, so long as the general church did not fundamentally or substantially abandon its original tenets and doctrines. The jury found that the general church did abandon its original tenets and doctrines, and the trial court accordingly found that the implied trust was terminated. The general church appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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Concurrence (Harlan, J.)

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