Texas Supreme Court Splits On Church Case

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ A divided Texas Supreme Court has overturned a ruling that would have denied 52 North Texas Episcopal church properties from a breakaway sect.

By a 5-4 vote, justices overturned a summary judgment that had granted the national Episcopal Church the properties. The Fort Worth Episcopal diocese had sued for ownership of those properties after it broke away from the national church. The diocese opposes the consecration of gay bishops, ordination of women and other policies its leadership considers too liberal.

Joining in the 13-page opinion were Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson and justices Nathan Hecht, Paul Green and Eva Guzman. It remands the case to the state district court in Tarrant County for further proceedings.

Justices Don Willett, Debra Lehrmann, Jeffrey Boyd and John Phillip Devine dissented in a 15-page opinion.