The fourth time was a charm for the State of Florida, when Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill precluding Florida courts from considering foreign law, or even foreign judgments, in deciding certain cases.
Similar measures were introduced in Florida’s three previous legislative sessions but failed each time. On Monday, the Sunshine State became the eighth state to enact such a measure.
According to the Associated Press (via First Coast News):
It would prohibit judges from applying foreign laws in cases involving family law, including divorce, alimony, child support and child custody.
It would also prevent some judgments from foreign courts to be considered in state courts.
Although no specific country or religion is mentioned in the law, Muslim groups have consistently proclaimed to be the target of this and previous attempts, and have referred to them as “anti-Sharia” measures.
The Florida Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR-FL, recently wrote:
These cleverly-worded bills focus on family law, but are targeted specifically against Muslims and impact the religious family laws of everyone — Muslims, Christians and Jews. If passed, these anti-Sharia laws would restrict and/or deny the use of religious law for matters involving marriage, divorce, and child custody.
What CAIR-FL fails to consider is the impact of two worlds colliding — especially those of American criminal law versus freedom of religion. That particular issue arose in 2009 when a New Jersey trial judge refused a wife’s petition to grant an order restraining her estranged husband from raping her.
Although New Jersey recognized that marriage was not a defense to rape, such an act was permissible under Sharia law. According to court records, cited by Fox News:
“Defendant forced plaintiff to have sex with him while she cried. Plaintiff testified that defendant always told her “this is according to our religion. You are my wife, I c[an] do anything to you. The woman, she should submit and do anything I ask her to do.”
Scott’s signature on the bill doesn’t necessarily mean Florida is out of the woods on the issue. Last August, a federal district judge struck down a 70 percent voter-approved constitutional amendment in Oklahoma, stating, according to Reuters, “It is abundantly clear that the primary purpose of the amendment was to specifically target and outlaw Sharia law.”
One can’t help but wonder whether this would be an issue if it were Catholics who condoned marital rape.