A Florida House judiciary committee passed a bill today that would outlaw the use of “foreign law” in family court cases. The measure, and past incarnations of it, have been touted by right-wing activists as an attempt to “stop the spread of Sharia in Florida.”
The bill also happens to be a piece of model legislation written by anti-Islam leader David Yerushalmi. A similar bill was introduced last session by the same lawmakers behind this year’s version: state Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, and Rep. Larry Metz, R-Eustis. Florida has been a hotbed of anti-Islam/Sharia activism for years.
The bill would regulate the “application of foreign law in certain cases,” which members and speakers opposed to the measure say is not a problem that Florida now faces. A representative of the Family Law section of the Florida Bar pointed out that the bill is a “solution for a problem that does not exist.” She said there are already laws in place that safeguard against the intervention of laws that do not apply.
State Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, asked Metz for examples of foreign law being used in Florida. Metz said he could not think of any specific cases but was rather hoping to pass the bill as a preventive.
Ron Bilbao, who spoke on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, told members that the bill is “unnecessary.”
He also dismissed claims that foreign law are “somehow infecting the legal system” in Florida. Bilbao said that the ACLU of Florida believes the measure would be ”a law with unintended consequences.”