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Libel on tour
by James Gill
Within minutes Monday a legislative committee repudiated both Islamic and British law.
Neither, perhaps, represents an immediate threat to justice in Louisiana, but it was not entirely an alarmist and xenophobic stunt when the committee approved two bills by Rep. Ernest Wooton, R-Belle Chase. Mostly, but not entirely.
One of Wooton's bills, which provides that no foreign law shall be applied here if it violates a right guaranteed by the American Constitution, is by any rational measure superfluous. But it is not unknown for immigrant litigants to invoke the tenets of Sharia to which, the committee was told, the Maryland courts deferred in a child custody case.
The Louisiana Supreme Court has so far insisted that cases in America are settled according to American law, but the committee figured it was wise to commit future jurists to that sound principle. At least the bill does no harm.
Wooton's other bill may be largely symbolic too, although it is worth passing just in case. It does not single out the Limeys, but its refusal to enforce foreign defamation judgments that are "repugnant to the public policy of this state" is clearly aimed at them. Other states have passed, or are considering, similar legislation in response to a libel award rendered in London against the American writer Rachel Ehrenfeld.
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