Churches: An Existence of Their Own or Creatures of the Sovereign?

JWI and First Liberty Institute’s CRCD present this webinar discussion.

In 2020, the Texas Supreme Court handed down a decision in The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth v. The Episcopal Church, a case implicating an old question with widespread contemporary implications for corporations law, property and trust law, religious liberty, and freedom of association. At bottom, the question, in the words of an earlier jurist, is whether churches and other societies of people “have an existence of their own or are the mere creatures of the sovereign.” That question lies hidden at the heart of many contemporary legal and political questions, including debates over corporate social responsibility, religious liberty, the security of property rights, and freedom of conscience. MacLeod will present evidence that legal artifacts such as corporations and trusts exist to protect and to sustain groups and associations. Those groups have real lives and agency. Their existence is not contingent on positive law nor any grant of privilege from the sovereign.

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The James Wilson Institute’s Mission is to restore to a new generation of lawyers, judges, and citizens the understanding of the American Founders about the first principles of our law and the moral grounds of their own rights.
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