United States District Court Judge C. Weston Houck minces no words in his latest ruling against The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECinSC) nor is he about to be fooled by The Episcopal Church’s legal banter.
“This matter is before the Court on the motion of the plaintiff, the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg (“Bishop vonRosenberg”), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), for reconsideration of the Court’s August 23, 2013 Order, which granted the motion of the defendant the Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence (“Bishop Lawrence”), to abstain, thereby dismiss in the case without prejudice. For the reasons discussed below, Bishop vonRosenberg’s motion for reconsideration (ECF No. 33) is denied,” Judge Houck succinctly explained in the first paragraph of his January 14 ruling.
Following seven pages of detailed background and reasoning, the United States District Court judge ends with: “For the foregoing reasons, Bishop vonRosenberg’s motion for reconsideration (ECF No. 33) is denied. AND IT IS SO ORDERED.”
Judge Houck is not a man to be trifled with. Twice the judge has dismissed Bishop vonRosenberg’s attempts to get the federal court system to do his bidding in wrestling the unique identity and marks of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina away from Bishop Lawrence, without prejudice, meaning that should a change in the status of the case or a change in law warrant it, Bishop vonRosenberg can seek to reinstate his case in federal court.
Judge Houck originally rejected TECinSC’s motion for a preliminary injunction on August 23, 2013 without prejudice. On Sept. 16, 2013, falling within the 28 day window to file a Motion to Alter or Amend a Judgment, Bishop vonRosenberg’s legal counsel and chancellor Thomas Tisdale was seeking a Motion for Reconsideration complete with a Memorandum in Support of the Motion, claiming that under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) the federal court made two fundamental errors in its earlier August ruling.