Bill banning application of religious law dies in Florida Senate

By Marcy Oster, JTA

Legislation that would ban the application of religious or foreign law in marriage, divorce or custody cases stalled in Florida’s state Senate.

The Senate failed to bring the measure to a vote by March 9, the end of the current legislative session. It could be brought up in future sessions.

Jewish and Muslim groups opposed the bill, which had passed the Florida House of Representatives on March 1 by a vote of 92-24.

Rep. Elaine Schwartz, one of two Jewish Democratic lawmakers in the House who opposed the bill, expressed concern that the law also could negate divorces that were arbitrated by a Jewish beit din, or rabbinical court, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Several states have sought to limit the influence of Sharia, or Islamic, law. The Florida bill did not specifically mention Sharia law.