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Battle between SC Episcopalians back state court

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By BRUCE SMITH

Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The legal fight between two factions of South Carolina Episcopalians will be decided in state court.

U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck has issued an order saying the federal court has no jurisdiction and hearing the case would disrupt the balance between state and federal courts. Houck heard arguments in the dispute last week.

The conservative Diocese of South Carolina last year separated from the more liberal national Episcopal Church. The break-away churches then sued in state court to protect the use of the name and a half billion dollars' worth of property.

Parishes remaining with the national church then sued in federal court saying the case raised First Amendment and other federal issues.

But Houck disagreed and late Monday sent the case back to state court.

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