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Foreign Laws in US Courtrooms

Updated on February 11, 2012

Judges see it more often than not. Foreign law influencing their own discretion and outcome, Usually, these cases are in the Family law arena-divorces and child custody issues where a US Court was influenced by a foreign court's decision. While most agree that a foreign court's decision has no binding impact on a US court, Judges admit it does impact and influence their final ruling at times.

Many states have now banned the use of Sharia Law and other foreign laws. Yet, on appeal, the Federal court cited it being unconstitutional because it targeted a specific religion-Islam and granted a temporary injunction. Of course, the American Muslims are irate about this because they are a target-well, if they are indeed practicing Sharia Law, I guess we do have a problem then. It should not be allowed. Period. There have been about a dozen cases where US judges had to considered a foreign court's ruling originating in Islamic law or traditions before making a ruling based on US law. The question is why, at all, consider what a foreign court ruled, especially when Islam tends to be biased towards men in most aspects from a Western perspective. I mean, American court rulings are not considered in their courts whatsoever. In one 1996 child custody case in Maryland, the appellate court ruled based upon a Pakistani court order that a 12 yr. old girl should go to the father, who live in Pakistan, rather than the mother, who lived in the US. The US ruling cited the influence of Hazanit, which gives the traditional preference of child custody to the father and typically used in Muslim countries. Hazanit favors the children staying in Islamic societies rather than in non-Islamic ones. The dissenting judge questioned about the fundamental rights of the mother under American law and why the other judges favored a foreign law. In 2009, another case, this time in New Jersey between a Moroccan couple. The woman was sexually assaulted by her husband. She sought a restraining order against him. The court refused basing it on the foreign law and custom under Islam that the man has a right to nonconsensual sex with his wife and he had no criminal intent because it was his belief. On appeal, in 2010, after more trauma had been inflicted on the woman, the Court reversed the trial court decision and issued the restraining order citing American law.

America is getting to be a little too mixed up with its melting pot. Yes, having people come here from across the world is fine and some customs had variety to America and are wonderful, but the law in America really must be that-American. Just as the language should be English. Mixing foreign law with American law is just going to produce chaos. So far, 21 states are considering have statutes forbidding any foreign law influence in a judge's decision.


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    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 

      6 years ago

      Maybe you should try things the English way then. We recognise and accommodate Sharia law but do not allow it to conflict with English law.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @jay-I think this issue has arisen because of the more radical islamic customs\law that are alien to our sense of justice and most of the conflict occurs in family law. But the old saying remains true, "when in rome, do as the romans". Not always easy in custody issues where a parent is here and the ex is in iran, Saudi arabia etc.

    • INFJay profile image

      Jay Manriquez 

      6 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      Your opinions are always interesting read and the comments your readers post have been revealing and thought provoking. What about the influence of British law in our judicial system? What about the Biblical influence on law? It seems rather difficult to pin-point any laws that have not been influenced by other non-American sources.

      As always I enjoy reading your Hubs.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 

      6 years ago

      But the US practices freedom of religion does it not? How do you justify the law putting a man into conflict with his religion?


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