November 7, 2011
Florida dispute to proceed under Islamic law
Speaking of Shariah and it’s place in American society, a Florida appellate court has ruled that a trial court may use Islamic law to decide a key issue in a case involving a mosque.
In Mansour v. Islamic Education Center, Judge Richard Nielsen had said he was going to apply “Islamic ecclesiastical law,” which I suspect is Shariah. As the St. Petersburg Times reports:
The judge’s ruling seems odd. But I could see how Nielsen could have interpreted a contract to require that arbitration follow Islamic law. And though he agrees that it’s OK to have binding arbitration be performed by religious authorities applying religious laws, First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh thinks that the court got this one wrong. (Full disclosure: Professor Volokh has been for me an occasional sounding board for legal academic writing issues. He’s also one of the most-heavily quoted legal scholars in the world.) Here’s why Volokh thinks the court erred:
After discussing this, Volokh makes a comparison to how Jewish law regarding marriage and divorce is applied by American courts.
Whether the Mansour decision will have consequences only for the parties involved here or will be applied in other cases remains to be seen.