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Florida House approves bill outlawing use of religious and foreign law

The Florida House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [text, PDF] Thursday that would ban the use of religious or foreign law in legal decisions and contracts. The bill, which passed 92-24, would effectively ban the use of Sharia, as well as any other religious law, when dealing with issues such as divorce. This has led some to raise concerns of the validity of such ceremonies performed based on religious traditions. The bill will now pass to the senate for a full vote. The bill reads:

Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision violates the public policy of this state and is void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its ruling or decision in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code, or system that does not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed by the State Constitution or the United States Constitution.
If the bill passes, Florida will join Tennessee, Louisiana and Oklahoma as states with legislation limiting religious influence in legal decision making.

Oklahoma's bill, which specifically mentions outlawing Sharia, is currently being blocked [JURIST report] until its constitutionality can be reviewed. That bill was passed by voters [JURIST report] in November 2010. There has been a wave of legislation attempting [JURIST commentary] to outlaw Sharia and other foreign law which has sparked much controversy [JURIST comment] around the issue.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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