We urge you to add your name– representing your community group, religious group, profession or organization– to the following Statement of Support for American Laws for American Courts. To add your name, complete the form in the right column or email Stephen M. Gele, American Public Policy Alliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your full name, organization, title, and zip code. Signatories are posted here and updated daily. Read the model American Laws for American Courts Act here.
“I support the principle of American Laws for American Courts, to ensure that no American citizen or resident is denied, as a result of the enforcement of foreign law, the liberties, rights and privileges guaranteed by state public polices and the U.S Constitution.”
Please share the letter below with leaders in your community
and your colleagues across America.
We urge you to join us in adding your name to the statement in support of the American Laws for American Courts Act, which has been enacted in three states and has been introduced in over twenty other state legislatures. The American Laws for American Courts Act protects all American citizens and residents in state legal cases when the application of a foreign law would violate constitutional liberties.
The American Laws for American Courts Act is constitutional and “facially neutral.” It does not mention any specific religion, creed or legal doctrine, and in the two years since its introduction into state legislatures, it has never been challenged in court.
The Act‘s sole objective is to protect all U.S. citizens and residents from the application of foreign laws when the application of a foreign law will result in the violation, in the specific matter at issue, of a liberty guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States or the public policies of the state in question. Such violations would include but not be limited to infringements on due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, equal protection, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of the state.
Reviews of state laws provide extensive evidence that foreign laws and legal doctrines are introduced into US state court cases, including, notably, Islamic law known as Shariah, which is used in family courts and other courts in dozens of foreign Muslim-majority nations .
These foreign laws, frequently at odds with U.S. constitutional principles of equal protection and due process, typically enter the American court system through:
- Comity (mutual respect of each country’s legal system)
- Choice of law issues and
- Choice of forum or venue
Granting comity to a foreign judgment is a matter of state law, and most state and federal courts will grant comity unless the recognition of the foreign judgment would violate some important public policy of the state. This doctrine, the “Void as against Public Policy Rule,” has a long and pedigreed history.
Unfortunately, because state legislatures have generally not been explicit about what their public policy is relative to foreign laws, including as an example, Shariah, the courts and the parties litigating in those courts are left to their own devices – first to know what Shariah is, and second, to understand that granting comity to a Shariah judgment may be at odds with our state and federal constitutional principles in the specific matters at issue.
The American Laws for American Courts Act is carefully limited in scope, recognizing the need to balance the protection of individual liberties with other legal principles:
- The American Laws For American Courts Act does not apply to a business that contracts to subject itself to foreign law in a jurisdiction other than the state or the United States.
- The American Laws for American Courts Act is carefully defined so as not to interfere with the right of any individual or entity to the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by the constitution of this state. For example, it would not affect the decisions of Jewish, Christian, Muslim or other ecclesiastical courts, or their enforcement, as long as those decisions did not result in the violation of a right guaranteed by the state constitution or the Constitution of the United States.
- The American Laws for American Courts Act would not conflict with any federal treaty or other international agreement to which the United States is a party.
The goal of the American Laws for American Courts Act is a clear and unequivocal application of what should be the goal of all state courts: No U.S. citizen or resident should be denied the liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed in our constitutional republic. American Laws for American Courts is needed especially to protect women and children, identified by international human rights organizations as the primary victims of discriminatory foreign laws.
Please join our fellow Americans from across the country in signing this statement of support for American Laws for American Courts, the 21st Century civil rights initiative to ensure constitutional liberties for all Americans.