John C. Eastman (right) listens as John Yoo debates at Chapman last month.
John C. Eastman (right) listens as John Yoo debates at Chapman last month.
Photo by Christopher Victorio

Chapman Law Dean Shifts From One Controversy to Another

The last time you read a Navel Gazing post that mentioned John C. Eastman, dean of Chapman University's School of Law, it was in reference to him teaming with the university's visiting law professor and Bush White House "torture memo" author John Yoo in April to debate two other Chapman law profs in Memorial Hall about presidential power in wartime. One thing Eastman rejected that day was a government investigation of Yoo and others because he did not believe the U.S. ever tortured anyone.

Now, as the Daily Pilot reports, Eastman is in the middle of another controversial case, that of St. James Anglican Church, which seeks to have the United States Supreme Court intervene in its quest to keep its campus on Via Lido after breaking in 2004 with the Episcopal Church, which had consecrated a gay bishop the year before and started performing gay marriages.
The California Supreme Court in January ruled in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, which claimed ownership of the white stucco Newport Beach church structure and property across from Newport Harbor, after its congregation left the Episcopal Church because of its liberal views on homosexuality and joined an Anglican Church in Africa.

The case raises questions about St. James' constitutionally protected, First Amendment rights to religious freedoms, according to Eastman, who told the Pilot, "By taking their church away that makes it hard for them to practice their religion."

St. James has until May 26 to file for a hearing and should get an answer from the court in the fall, said Eastman, who believes there is a "decent chance" the Supremes will hear the case. His diocese counterpart does not agree. "I don't want to speculate, but it seems remote that the U.S. Supreme Court would take the case," attorney John Shiner told the Pilot.

St. James has set up the website to lobby the court to take up the case.


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