The Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved H.B. 903, the Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases, on Tuesday along strict party lines — all 7 Republican members present voted to send the measure out of committee, and all four Democrats voted no.
In a case of “deja vu all over again,” this marks the fourth time in four legislative sessions that a similar provision has been presented to Florida lawmakers. The previous three times ended in failure.
If passed into law, the measure would prohibit Florida courts from considering any provision of foreign law inconsistent with the constitutions of the United States or the state of Florida.
The vote went as follows:
Metz, Larry [R] Yes
Hager, Bill [R] Absent
Democratic Ranking Member
Stafford, Cynthia A. [D] No
Clelland, Michael Philip “Mike” [D] No
Davis, Daniel [R] Yes
Goodson, Tom [R] Yes
Hill, Walter Bryan “Mike” [R] Yes
Passidomo, Kathleen C. [R] Yes
Rodríguez, José Javier [D] No
Spano, Ross [R] Yes
Stone, Charlie [R] Yes
Waldman, James W. “Jim” [D] No
Young, Dana D. [R] Yes
The bill provides:
Defines “foreign law, legal code, or system”; specifies public policy on application of foreign law, legal code, or system in proceedings relating to dissolution of marriage, support, time-sharing, UCCJEA, & UIFSA; provides that certain decisions rendered under such laws, codes, or systems are void; provides that certain contracts & contract provisions are void; provides for construction of waiver by natural person of person’s fundamental liberties, rights, & privileges guaranteed by state or federal constitutions; provides that claims of forum non conveniens or related claims must be denied; provides that act doesn’t require or authorize court to adjudicate, or prohibit any religious organization from adjudicating, ecclesiastical matters in violation of specified constitutional provisions or to conflict with any federal treaty or other international agreement to which U.S. is party to specified extent.
Although the measure is not directed against any particular race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has consistently opposed bills similar to this in the past. They’ve often been referred to as “anti-Sharia” bills.
The bill was sent to the 18- member House Judiciary Committee, consisting of 12 Republicans and six Democrats.
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