Rejected by Georgia House Commitee: U.S. Law for Georgia Courts
Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, March 13, 2015 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Since 2011, Georgia legislators have introduced bills to prevent the use of foreign law in Georgia courts, but all those bills have died, including this year’s H.B. 171.
Obviously Georgia legislators ignored results of Alabama’s November General Election, when 72 percent voted against using foreign law in Alabama courts. Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey said, “Foreign law refers to the laws of other countries or cultures. Currently, judges or other legal authorities discern whether foreign law is applied. Amendment 1 would create constitutional protection that foreign law is not applied if it violates the guaranteed rights of Alabama citizens.” Actually, Alabama’s law didn’t change, but judges were reminded to stick to Alabama laws and public policy.
Georgia Representative Dustin Hightower was successful in getting a public hearing on his H.B. 171 for March 9th, the 28th day of the session. After hearing comments about the bill, the committee failed to vote, killing the bill for this session. Obviously, that was the plan. Before taking office, legislators swear to uphold state and federal laws and constitutions. Their rejection of H.B. 171 means they failed to uphold their oath of office, which left judges and other legal authorities with latitude to insert foreign law into Georgia courts.
H.B. 171 defines foreign law as a law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of a U.S. state or territory, meaning an international organization or tribunal could not have jurisdiction in Georgia. A tribunal is a court, administrative agency, arbitrator, or arbitration panel.
If H.B. 171 had passed and a court allowed decisions from any of those entities, the ruling would be unenforceable and void if, in any way, it would deny a right or privilege guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. However, businesses would be free to enter into foreign contracts, but foreign law could not apply to domestic relation contracts, including prenuptial agreements and divorce agreements, adoptions and other matters of family law. U.S. and Georgia laws and constitutions would always prevail and no court could allow a case to be re-filed in a foreign jurisdiction outside any state or territory of the U.S., without clear and convincing evidence there would be no violation of the parties’ constitutionally guaranteed rights and privileges.
Protecting family law from foreign intervention is vitally important, since the majority of cases involving use of foreign legal decisions in state courts violate the fundamental rights of women and children concerning child custody, as well as visitation, financial support, divorce, and protection orders. When foreign laws are used in family courts, women are often denied equal protection and due process. Why won’t Georgia legislators protect U.S. and state laws and constitutions? For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.