The Washington Post

Episcopal Church owns Falls Church property; Supreme Court lets Virginia court ruling stand

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the ruling of the the Virginia Supreme Court awarding the building for the Episcopal Church of Falls Church to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a Virginia court’s ruling that the Episcopal Church owns the historic property known as the Falls Church, the subject of a bitter, multimillion-dollar property dispute with a conservative congregation that left the denomination.

The justices gave no reason for declining to review the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court that the 3,000-member congregation, which voted in 2006 to leave the Episcopal Church, did not have the right to keep the sprawling property known as the Falls Church.

The Falls Church property is one of the country’s largest Episcopal churches and is a landmark in downtown Falls Church.

The breakaway congregation, now called the Falls Church Anglican, has been worshiping in the Bishop O’Connell High School auditorium in Arlington County while it sought to overturn lower court decisions.

Virginia’s high court ruled that the property belongs to the mainline denomination but said some of the nearly $3 million in church coffers belongs to the Falls Church Anglican congregation.

The court also rejected an appeal from a Pennsylvania school district that disciplined middle-school students who wore “I Boobies!” bracelets to promote breast cancer awareness among young people.

The justices gave no reasoning for declining to review a federal appeals court ruling striking down a ban on the bracelets from the Easton Area School District. It said the suggestive message was causing problems.

Lower courts sided with two students who sued the district in 2010 with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
What can babies teach students?
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Play Videos
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Is fencing the answer to brain health?
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
How a hacker group came to Washington
The woman behind the Nats’ presidents ‘Star Wars’ makeover
How hackers can control your car from miles away
Play Videos
Philadelphia's real signature sandwich
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Europe's migrant crisis, explained

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.