|Against Foreign Abuses in American Courts|
By Quin Hillyer
Thursday, April 12 2012
The Legislature in Alabama, the home state of perhaps the single most prominent American-born jihadi, is poised to become the latest in a line of states outlawing the application of foreign laws in American courts if those laws violate American constitutional rights. The laws are desperately needed: Confused American trial court judges are surprisingly susceptible to citations of foreign standards to excuse otherwise appalling, even criminal, behavior.
As was well explained by Investor’s Business Daily on April 3, the Alabama bill and others like it are the subjects of a massive disinformation campaign by a group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite the myths pushed therein, these laws are not aimed at negating innocent religious practices or at barring all use of foreign laws (such as business contracts) from American courts. These laws are not some sort of anti-Islamic fear-mongering, nor mere jingoism.
What these laws do is protect civil liberties against abuses from parts of Islamic sharia and other foreign practices. Consider a case in New Jersey, S.D. v M.J.R., in which a couple was subjected to an arranged marriage in Morocco, moved to the United States, and soon were at odds over the wife’s inability to cook traditional Middle Eastern meals, among other perceived weaknesses. The husband physically abused her (allegedly, but police photographs do show multiple bruises, etcetera), and repeatedly subjected her to nonconsensual (and rough) intercourse. He did not challenge the allegation that he forced sex upon his wife, but claimed his religion allowed him that privilege – and a trial court judge, ignoring contrary state law, excused the conduct on those grounds.
Fortunately, an appeals court overturned the decision, saying the trial judge “abused [his] discretion.” Wrote the appeals court:
"Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice?"
But relatively few trial court decisions are appealed, or even memorialized in writing. Yet the Center for Security Policy, in what it described as “a very cursory search,” found at least 50 cases where foreign law or religious practices were accepted by trial judges as excuses for sometimes heinous activities. At National Review Online, Andrew McCarthy wrote about a Pennsylvania case where a judge excused a violent assault because the victim’s “Zombie Mohammed” costume for Halloween violated Muslim sensibilities. And child custody cases in numerous venues have seen foreign practices allowed to trump the “best interest of the child” standard usually applicable in American law.
“This is a real problem in U.S. courts,” said Christopher Holton, a vice president at the Center for Security Policy. “We don’t want to go down the slippery slope like Europe already has. For example, there are 85 sharia courts operating openly in Great Britain. It’s not harmless. Now you have shadow legal systems operating in Germany too, and we see some courts going that way here.”
Hence the successful moves in Tennessee, Arizona and Louisiana to pass similar versions of “American Laws for American Courts” laws. Hence serious activity in seven other states, including Alabama, to do the same. The bill passed the Kansas House 122-0 and is scheduled for an April 26 Senate vote; in Missouri, it passed the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee and awaits further action; it also passed the House in New Hampshire.
Yet for whatever reason, it seemed stalled in Alabama. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last year, but died in the Rules Committee. It passed Judiciary again this year on March 1, but again seemed to be languishing in Rules. Until Thursday. Shortly after noon on April 12, Rules forwarded the bill to the full Senate for a Tuesday vote. Easy passage and transmittal to the House is expected.
The proposed law is measured. It applies only to individuals, specifically excluding business contracting arrangements from its strictures – thus allowing, indeed promoting, foreign trade. It applies not to purely internal religious matters, but only if there is risk of abuse of individual rights, “including, but not limited to, due process, freedom of religion, speech, assembly, or press, or any right of privacy or marriage.”
Such bills are especially important to protect women from the horrible treatments often meted out under sharia and other foreign systems. Particularly in the area of family law, the American system is a relative beacon of humaneness and fairness. Every reason exists to protect women and children living in these United States. Domestic abuse may not be jihad, but it still can be a serious manifestation of terror – of the sort no American state should ever countenance.
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