Questions to Consider for the Special Conclave
1.Does the Grand Master Have Implied Authority to Remove an Elected Grand Officer Without Cause or Due Process (Notice and Hearing)?
This question has deep ramifications. It drives to the core of our institution. If the Grand Master has implied authority to remove an elected officer without cause, why bother having elections at all?
Clearly, the Grand Master does not have implied authority to remove an elected officer without cause. The Grand Master has relied upon Section 23 of the Grand Encampment Constitution for raising these powers against the membership. However, a reasonable reading of Section 23 does not give the Grand Master this right.
The particular clause the Grand Master has bandied about to excuse his excesses is, “[t]he Grand Master generally shall have power and authority to do and perform all such acts as he may deem for the interests of Templary.” He seems to suppose that, so long as he believes his actions are in the best interests of Templary, then they are allowable. But this is not the case at all. His citations do not reflect the complete clause. The clause specifically limits what the Grand Master may “deem [in] the interests of Templary” with conditional language, “and which [actions] are not contrary to the Constitution, Statutes, Rules, Regulations and Rituals of the Grand Encampment.” One cannot act in the “best interests” of Templary by aligning the office of Grand Master with your own, personal interests!
Removal of a Grand Officer without cause is expressly contradicted by the Constitution (and impliedly contradicted in our Ritual).
The Constitution allows for the removal of committee members at will. See Const. § 12(c) (Grand Master has power to “[a]ppoint all committees authorized by the Constitution or the Statutes or created by action of the Grand Encampment and to change the membership thereof at his pleasure”). He has appointive and removal power over all appointed officers. See Const. § 12(b) (“[a]ll such appointees shall serve during the pleasure of the Grand Master”).
But this does not apply to the elected officers. See Const. § 12(b) (the appointive and removal power applies to any office of the Grand Encampment “other than that of Deputy Grand Master, Grand Generalissimo and Grand Captain General”). The filling of vacancies of these offices is expressly controlled by § 26, which states that, “[i]n the event of the advancement, death, permanent removal from the United States or permanent disability of the officer next higher in rank,” then the elected officers move up sequentially to fill such vacancy.
Removal is not within the Grand Master’s powers, except for cause under the Disciplinary Rules as properly applied to dereliction of duty in office.
The Constitution is silent as to the removal of elected officers per se. Based on Grand Master decisions in executing Templar law, an elected Grand Officer can be removed for cause (as any Sir Knight can be held accountable for unknightly conduct), but by due process consonant with the due process enshrined in the 14th amendment (a Knight Templar cannot be deprived of his property interests in Templary without due process (i.e. adequate notice and impartial hearing)). At the least, that requires proper notice and a hearing administered by a neutral third-party. See Crofts Decision No. 4, 1970. Removal should be the last resort. Id.
The Grand Master does not have express or implied power to remove a unanimously elected Grand Officer absent cause and without due process.
2. Should the Grand Master have this power?
In essence, that’s the quintessential question at the Special Conclave. Should the Grand Master have unilateral powers to do as he sees fit, even if his actions run contrary to the will of the membership? The Constitution (as well as reason) says no.
(i). Grand Encampment in Session is the Supreme Body of Templary, Not the Grand Master
The Grand Master is not the Grand Encampment. He is the representative of the Grand Encampment when it is not in assembly. That means that where the Grand Encampment acts, the Grand Master is enjoined form contrary action. See Const. § 3 (the Grand Encampment in Conclave “has supreme legislative, judicial and executive power and jurisdiction over the Orders of the Red Cross, Knight of Malta and Knight Templar within the United States of America” and “[t]he decisions of the Grand Encampment are final, and no appeal lies there from [sic]”). The Grand Master, then, cannot have supreme authority to contradict the Grand Encampment.
Thus, when the Grand Encampment elects a representative to an elected Grand Office, the Grand Master cannot contradict the election of the Grand Encampment at will. There must be cause. When the Grand Encampment enacts law or repeals legislation, the Grand Master does not have authority to contravene that decision.
Templary is not a monarchy. (Ask S.K. Paul Revere!) The history of Templary has long shown an opposition to the assumption of despotic power. No Grand Master who believes he has authority to act contrary to the interests of the membership is worthy of the office. He should be removed from office.
(ii). No Presiding Officer Has Power to Contravene the Constitution, His Vows of Office, Nor to Act Arbitrarily
The Grand Master’s removal of S.K. David Kussman, Deputy Grand Master, was arbitrary and capricious. Granting the Grand Master authority to act such makes a mockery of our institution.
S.K. Kussman chaired a committee appointed by the then-Grand Master S.K. Jeffrey Nelson. As an elected Grand Officer under the hierarchy of rank, S.K. Kussman followed the directives of his superior. S.K. Kussman performed faithfully in the discharge of those duties.
The committee S.K. Kussman was caused to chair was tasked with ending a pointless feud with another venerable chivalric Masonic appendant body, extant in the United States since 1934, and with which the Grand Encampment has long been in amity: the CBCS. (Read more about this, here.) This absurd feud was begun by the Grand Encampment in 2012 by S.K. William Howard Koon II, specifically after he was denied membership in the lawfully recognized group. (Read more, here.) In apparent retaliation for his exclusion, S.K. William Howard Koon joined a clandestine version of the CBCS in France and then promptly invaded the jurisdiction of the United States with it. The current Grand Master is a member of this clandestine version of the CBCS. The current Grand Master has been working to emplace this clandestine version in the United States as a secret invitational order under his and S.K. William H. Koon’s sole control!
The Grand Master’s actions in removing S.K. Kussman, among other gross excesses of office, appear to be motivated and retaliatory, rife with conflict of interest.
It is probable that S.K. Kussman was removed because S.K. Michael B. Johnson is a member of a clandestine version of the CBCS, unrecognized and discredited by all regular masonic bodies worldwide. It is probable the S.K. Kussman was removed because S.K. Michael B. Johnson sought to quell any action by the other elected officers in redress, who appear unable to act in any meaningful way incumbent upon their elected positions.
In response to the growing discontent among the membership, S.K. Johnson issued Decisions No. 5 and 6, contradicting his own position over the last decade in enmity with the CBCS, and now declaring that the CBCS is not strictly speaking a Templar Order because they do not require the Royal Arch as predicate for membership. This is a necessary prerequisite for Templary under the Concordat of 1910: therefore the CBCS does not confer Templars.
Thus, S.K. Michael Johnson removed S.K. Kussman for no reason at all. If the CBCS are not an unrecognized Templar order (as the Grand Encampment had tried to claim misguidedly under the influence of S.K. William H. Koon II for more than a decade), then why would S.K. Kussman’s work on a committee – trying to establish that very point – be in any way “malfeasant”? Clearly, Kussman’s removal was arbitrary and capricious, based on retaliation for “disloyalty” S.K. Michael Johnson seems to have felt in his own officers not supporting his clandestine group.
(iii). Checks and Balances and Due Process of Law are Templar Tenets that Breathe Life into the United States Constitution
The opposition to despotism has been a Templar tenet since Magna Carta in 1215. It was enshrined in that most masonic of documents, the Constitution of the United States. Despotism is unmasonic. Despotism is unamerican.
If there are no checks and balances to power, the institution is fragile. It may be irreparably harmed. It becomes prone to corruption.
Checks and balances on power are not merely morally correct. They’re prudent. The emotional dictates and caprice of one man should never be allowed to endanger a whole institution.
If the Grand Master is insane, his actions must be prevented. Where the Grand Master is corrupt, his actions must be exposed. Where the Grand Master is operating out of a manifest conflict of interest to abuse his office for personal gain, he must be replaced. The Grand Encampment – that is, you, the members – has these powers: They belong to it, not the Grand Master. The Grand Encampment is the supreme authority when in conclave assembled. The special conclave is a convention of the supreme legislative, judicial, and executive powers vested in our institution. All appropriate action must be taken to safeguard Templary.
The Special Conclave is for the future of the institution. If we ratify the Grand Master’s decision that he can simply remove any elected officer without cause, our elections become pointless. The elected officers turn sycophantic and cowardly. Where others perceive the Grand Master has these powers, the office attracts the wrong talent; the avaricious, the servile, the politically minded, the duplicitous, the insincere. It becomes, to paraphrase Martin Luther, “the great hunt of the Cardinals in Rome!”
The Grand Master is a servant. He is not a king.
This is why we have a Constitution. The current administration has been wont to state, repeatedly, that the Constitution says whatever the Grand Master says it says; that the Grand Master is the final arbiter to interpret the Constitution. Apparently, he would have his interpretation be the law, regardless of precedent. Backed by a Jurisprudence Committee Chair who has manifest conflicts of interest as well (for the same reasons above), the Grand Master has repeatedly misconstrued the Constitution to excuse excesses of office. The Grand Master is attempting to speak law. This cannot be countenanced.
We have checks and balances to prevent and correct situations like this. It is important that this situation be corrected. For the purposes of Masonic Templary, the Special Conclave has historic significance. You should ensure your representatives from your Grand Commandery attend. The future of Templary (and the Grand Encampment) is on the line.
3. Should the Current Grand Master Be Removed?
Here are the facts: The Grand Master removed an elected officer without cause. The Grand Master removed an elected officer without due process. The Grand Master slandered and libeled an elected officer by accusing him of “malfeasance” in office, impugning the officer’s good name. The Grand Master made these statements to third-parties all over the country, in person and via emails. The Grand Master made these defamatory statements with malice: with knowledge that the statements were false or with a reckless disregard for the truth. Either way, the Grand Master is probably liable for defamation per se. This is de facto unknightly conduct.
The Grand Master violated his obligation. We vow at the altars of masonry and of Templary never to traduce the good name of a brother or Sir Knight. We swear to protect and defend them. When has accusing an elected officer of “malfeasance” and impugning his character for honesty and competence without justification been the necessary defense of a brother or Sir Knight’s good name?
The Grand Master violated his obligation by seeking to supplant a sister right of chivalric masonry with a clandestine order of which he is a member.
The Grand Master abused his office by acting from a manifest conflict of interest to supplant regular Templary with an intent to adjoin it to a clandestine, unrecognized version of a chivalric rite for his own aggrandizement.
S.K. Kussman should be reinstated. He is guilty of no crime. The Grand Master issued a decision mooting the very issue S.K. Kussman was working to fix.
A special election of the Grand Encampment must be held for the purposes of reinstating S.K. Kussman and addressing the issues with our current leadership. Please ensure your delegates are present on March 12 to take part in this important Conclave, that the will of the majority may be properly expressed. We must decide what kind of Templary we wish to see for the future: a despotic institution promulgated by the dictates of avaricious and self-indulgent men, or a chivalric body united in Christ for the betterment of its members and the advancement of an enlightened society as a whole.
Which will you choose?