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George Washington University
Church property fight turns on Constitutional issues

The legal fight over land playing out between the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and a tiny Middle River church is one of the rare lawsuits filed against the denomination in the state. But it's one of dozens of such cases across the nation over 30 years that have turned on Constitutional questions that the Supreme Court has attempted to answer more than once. The Church of the Ascension in Middle River – like many local congregations before it – argued that because it held the deed for its property that state diocese officials had no right to close the church two years ago, seize the congregation's bank accounts and transfer the deed to the state denomination. The...