Still No Ruling in the Clergy Housing Allowance Case
Still No Ruling in the Clergy Housing Allowance Case
After nearly six months, a decision still may be weeks—even months—away. Here’s why.
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Frank Sommerville, an attorney with Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber and a Church Law & Tax editorial advisor, similarly noted “controversial decisions may take up to one year to publish.”

The Supreme Court’s shadow

Another likely influence to this case’s timing is the US Supreme Court. Assuming the Seventh Circuit does not determine a procedural problem or a standing issue with the case exists (which derailed a previous housing allowance challenge), a decision based on the merits inevitably will prompt the losing side to petition the Supreme Court for “certiorari” (a review and possible decision).

All of the attorneys interviewed said it is difficult to predict whether the Supreme Court would grant certiorari in such a situation. “The odds … depend entirely on the winner [at the Seventh Circuit] and the basis for the decision,” Sommerville said.

Statistically speaking, the chances already are remote. Each year, 8,000 petitions are filed with the Supreme Court. About 80 are granted.

As remote of a possibility as certiorari may be, though, federal judges do not want their opinions overturned, much less by the Supreme Court. That means the thoroughness taken with the research, deliberation, and writing of the opinion becomes even more paramount, which naturally extends the amount of time invested.

Posted: March 12, 2019

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