Litigation Partner Nathan Adams was quoted by Bloomberg Law on whether the John Doe's case against the church could be taken up on appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The case could have larger implications for matters involving church practices, including clergy sex-abuse scandals, if SCOTUS was to determine that religious matters could not be decided in civil courts. Mr. Doe argued that the Religious Autonomy Doctrine, which many scholars disagree over whether the doctrine even exists, would lead to absurd results if the church is allowed to adopt such interpretations.
The frequently litigated doctrine “is uniquely American inasmuch as the common law from England assumed the state would decide church controversies,” Dr. Adams, whose practice includes religious autonomy cases, said.
The doctrine covers disputes including those involving church property, parishioner discipline, and ministerial misconduct, Dr. Adams said.
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