He dismissed the case but his assertion on sharia tribunals is troubling. via Judge dismisses case he planned to use Islamic law in – Tampa Bay Times.
TAMPA — The Hillsborough judge who touched off controversy by saying he would use Islamic law to help decide a lawsuit against a mosque cited a different authority as he ordered the case dismissed.
The U.S. Constitution.
Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen ruled last week that the Constitution barred the court from getting involved in a dispute between the mosque — the Islamic Education Center of Tampa — and several ousted trustees.
The order is something of an about-face for Nielsen, whose earlier ruling that he would use “ecclesiastical Islamic law” to decide an issue in the case triggered national publicity and criticism from some commentators.
In a brief two-page order, Nielsen cited an earlier, precedent-setting ruling by another court in a different case that found “the trial court could not intervene in an internal church governance dispute.”
Quoting that decision, Nielsen wrote that the Constitution “permits hierarchical religious organizations to establish their own rules and regulations for internal discipline and governance, and to create tribunals for adjudicating disputes over these matters.”
To be clear, the judge quoted another judge’s
interpretation decision not the Constitution.
Nielsen concluded, “Once such matters are decided by an ecclesiastical tribunal, the civil courts are to accept the decision as binding on them.”
An ecclesiastical tribunal being a sharia tribunal or sharia court. Nielsen concludes then, that civil courts are to accept sharia court rulings as binding.
Attorney Lee Segal, representing the four ousted trustees, has 30 days to file an appeal. He said Monday that he was unsure if such an appeal would be filed.
“My clients are still weighing their options at this point,” Segal said. “We don’t know if there is anything we can do.”
Nielsen made no attempt in his ruling to reconcile his earlier decision to use Islamic law with the new order dismissing the case. And judges do not comment on pending litigation.
“I just think the judge punted, which he is entitled to do,” Segal said.
Nielsen’s order may simply leave both sides to settle the dispute among themselves, attorneys say.
“Maybe they’ll do the proper Muslim thing and resolve their differences,” Segal said.
Or maybe they’ll resort to another Muslim thing, jihad. Previously:
- Florida judge orders Muslims to follow sharia law, against their will
- Florida judge issues opinion, confirms Islamic sharia law in U.S. courts
- Appeals court rules Islamic SHARIA law is OK in FLORIDA civil case