Legislation designed to prevent any foreign legal principles from being used in state courts passed the Florida House Thursday.
HB 351, sponsored by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, has been widely dubbed the anti-Shariah law. Supporters argued the bill is a preventive measure to ensure foreign law does not infiltrate the state’s family law courts. Opponents called it a solution in search of a problem and said there has never been a case where someone’s constitutional rights were diminished by foreign law.
Rep. Jose Rodriguez said the bill could hurt Florida’s international trade. “What I am afraid of is sending a signal to the rest of the country and to the world that our state is not open for business,” the Miami Democrat said.
Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, asked, “Is it so bad that we would want a law in this state that parties in family law cases have a right to expect that our laws would apply to their cases? I do not believe it is.”
The bill has become known as the anti-Shariah law because opponents say it’s based on anti-Muslim legislation in other states. Sharia laws are based on the Koran.
The House passed HB 351 by a 79-39 vote. The bill faces a tougher test in the Senate.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott congratulated the House for passing a measure to “affirm U.S. law.”
“America was founded on principles of religious freedom,” said Scott. “In Florida, we have many religions and cultures that contribute to the rich diversity of our great state. As Americans, we have the expressed right to freely practice our religion, and I applaud the Florida House for passing HB 351 that would make clear the constitutional rights of our citizens will be protected.”