Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shari'a law coming to the United States!

No, it's not a Katie Kersten column on the arrival of Islamic law to Minnesota. Nor is it the rantings of the Lady Logician on the threat of Islamofascists to our system of jurisprudence. It's not even the crazed screeds of Pamela Geller.

Rather, it's a defense being utilized by a Blackwater company in a lawsuit brought in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, McMahon et al. v. Presidential Airways, Court file No. 6:05CV1002:

To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.

The lawsuit “is governed by the law of Afghanistan,” Presidential Airways argued in a Florida federal court. “Afghan law is largely religion-based and evidences a strong concern for ensuring moral responsibility, and deterring violations of obligations within its borders.”

If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.

Under a routine conflict of laws analysis, before a court can apply the law of a foreign jurisdiction, there really does need to be a system of law in that foreign jurisdiction, a questionable conclusion when it comes to Afghanistan. But Blackwater has asserted that Afghanistan's Shari'a law should govern the wrongful death action brought by the plaintiffs. Shari'a law, conveniently enough, does not hold an employer responsible for the wrongs of its employees. If applied, Blackwater escapes liability for the acts of its employees and the plaintiffs recover nothing.

So I guess the lesson here is that whether Shari'a law being applied in the United States depends on which Republican operative wants it applied.

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