Monday, March 26, 2007

Female German Judge Citing the Koran, Approves of Wife Beating

A German judge has stirred a storm of protest by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a speedy divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.

In a ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, noted that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote in her decision, sanctions such physical abuse.

News of the ruling brought swift and sharp condemnation from politicians, legal experts and Muslim leaders in Germany, many of whom said they were confounded that a German judge would put seventh-century Islamic religious teaching ahead of German law in deciding a case of domestic violence.

The court in Frankfurt abruptly removed Judge Datz-Winter from the case on Wednesday, saying it could not justify her reasoning. The woman’s lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk, said she decided to publicize the ruling, which was issued in January, after the court refused her request for a new judge. [...snip] NYTimes

I don't have the details but there is a polygamy case winding its way through U.S. courts. The Koran approves polygamy for men (not for women, of course). Will U.S. courts approve polygamy. Stay tuned.

If you haven't been paying attention, some members of the United States Supreme Court have been citing European laws and legal decisions in their arguments in U.S. cases. The Article VI of the U.S. Constitution classifies the provisions of treaties signed by the U.S. to be the "Supreme Law of the Land, and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

Since the U.S. is a party to the treaty creating the International Court of Justice of the United Nations, then its decisions, if applicable, would be enforceable in the United States. U.S. justices have also cited decisions of the European Human Rights Court based in Brussels, Belgium, in U.S. cases.

Would you say that wouldn't apply? If American judges can make up a "right of privacy" as they did in the Connecticut birth control case, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says our justices can't make up more rights they might like from European (or Asian) cases.

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