Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new law on Friday that shows his state is taking a stand against Shariah law.
Abbott reportedly signed House Bill 45, more commonly known as “American Laws for American Courts,” or ALAC, which prohibits the use of any foreign law in the state’s courts. Specifically, it prevents the use of foreign law in cases that involve marriage or parent-child relationship matters.
One of the bill’s co-authors Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano) thanked the governor, who signed HB 45 on Wednesday. Leach called the law “vitally important bill to further safeguard and protect our Constitutional rights!” In the last legislative session, Leach authored the comparable yet unsuccessful ALAC measure, House Bill 562.
HB 45 lead author Representative Dan Flynn (R-Canton) also introduced similar past legislation that failed. In a recent press release, Flynn noted foreign law is often applied in Texas cases concerning divorce orders, child support, property settlements and sometime even, spouses enter into agreements to have foreign law applied to their disputes.
“My colleagues and I here at the Texas Legislature want to make sure Texas judges never apply foreign law in Texas courts in violation of constitutional rights and the public policy of our state,” said Flynn.
Under HB 45, Texas and U.S. law supersede all other laws. It prevents state judges from applying any foreign law because, in doing so, it infringes upon U.S. and Texas constitutional rights. The bill shields litigants in family law cases “against violations of constitutional rights and public policy in the application of foreign law” under the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, federal and judicial precedent, the Texas Family Code, and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, among other protections.
HB 45 makes no mention of any particular foreign nation, religion, or cultural practice but clarifies that “foreign law” means a rule, law, or code from a jurisdiction outside of the United States and it shall not override U.S and Texas law or their respective constitutions. It specifies that a “foreign judgment” means a ruling from a court, tribunal, or administrative adjudicator outside U.S. states and territories. The bill underscores that, in the event of any legal conflicts, “federal or state law prevails.”