Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States and Canada v. Milivojevich

PETITIONER: Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States and Canada
RESPONDENT: Milivojevich
LOCATION: Approximate site of car accident

DOCKET NO.: 75-292
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Illinois

CITATION: 426 US 696 (1976)
ARGUED: Mar 22, 1976
DECIDED: Jun 21, 1976

ADVOCATES:
Albert E. Jenner, Jr. - for petitioners
Leo J. Sullivan, III - for respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States and Canada v. Milivojevich

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 22, 1976 in Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States and Canada v. Milivojevich

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 21, 1976 in Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States and Canada v. Milivojevich

Warren E. Burger:

The Judgment and opinion of the Court in number 75-292, Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese against Milivojevich will be announced by Mr. Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

This case is here from the Supreme Court of Illinois and presents an issue of Church and State in a different context.

In 1963, the Holy Assembly of Bishops in the Holy Synod of the Mother Church of the Serbian Orthodox face has its sea in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, suspended and ultimately removed respondent, the Dionisije, as Bishop of the American Canadian Diocese of that Church and appointed the Bishop Firmilian as administrator of the Diocese which the Mother Church then re-organized into three Diocese.

In 1964, the Holy Assembly the Holy Synod, they brought respondent as a Bishop and a cleric of the Mother Church.

In this civil action brought by him and others in Illinois Circuit Court, the Supreme Court of Illinois held that the proceedings of the Mother Church, respecting him, were procedurally and substantively defective under the internal regulations of the Mother Church and were, therefore, arbitrary and invalid.

And the State Supreme Court also invalidated Diocesan reorganization into three Dioceses.

We granted certiorari to determine whether the actions of Illinois Supreme Court, constituted improper judicial interference with decisions of the highest authorities of a hierarchical church in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and we hold that the inquires made by the Illinois Supreme Court in the matters of the ecclesiastical cognizance and quality and court's actions pursuant thereto did indeed contravene the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

We therefore reverse.

Mr. Justice White joining the Court's opinion has filed a concurring opinion.

The Chief Justice concurs in the judgment.

Mr. Justice Rehnquist joined by Mr. Justice Stevens has filed dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Brennan.