The Florida version of the American Law for American Courts (ALAC) is up for its fourth try in the 2014 Legislative session in Tallahassee. In contrast to prior years, there is concerted effort by bill sponsors, Sen. Alan Hays (R- Umatilla) and Rep. Neil Combee in the House of Representatives to seek Senate and House leadership, as well as Committee commitments for passage of the bills. There is also new message that was conveyed to Florida legislators on both House and Senate Committees; Senate Bill 0386/House Bill 903: “acceptance of foreign law in certain cases”. The message is that ALAC guards against the recognition of foreign laws in Florida Courts in violation of fundamental Constitutional rights of all citizens, especially women and children.
That message was communicated at the March 13th Florida Christian Family Coalition (CFC) Annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast by Professor Margaret McClain , a retired Arkansas State University professor, whose daughter Heidi was kidnapped at the age of 5 and removed to Saudi Arabia by her ex-Husband.. See our New English Review article, An American Child Kidnapped in Accordance with Shariah. Professor McClain’s experience was also amplified in a recent Iconoclast interview with Yasmeen Alexandria Davis, a Florida young woman, who at 13 years of age was rescued from a kidnapping by her Saudi father through the resourcefulness and persistence of her mother and grandmother. Her Saudi father relentless keep tabs on her through a US lawyers and an ex-FBI agent retained by him. See An American’s Rescue from Abduction to Saudi Arabia.
Both incidents were violations of state, federal and international conventions on parental kidnapping, but sanctioned under Sharia Islamic law. Professor McClain and Yasmeen Alexandria Davis testified about abduction of American children to Saudi Arabia in a panel of such women, children, and a father at a US House 2002 Government Reform Committee chaired by former Indian Republican Rep. Dan Burton. Professor McClain gave proof f to the CFC lobbyists based on her personal experience why passage of ALA in Florida was needed to protect American women and children against alien laws that imperil their fundamental Constitutional and basic human rights. The CFC has made passage of ALAC a priority in the 2014 legislature.
The 75 trained men and women, members of the CFC who heard Professor McClain and ALAC Senate Bill sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays, Rep. Larry Ahern, sponsor of a bill, Offenses against the Unborn Children (OAUC), fanned out to meet legislators. They were equipped with FAQs sheet on why ALAC is needed and a list of nearly two dozen Florida lower court and appellate cases in which foreign laws were recognized . How effective were they? According to a report by the CFC:
They met with a total of thirty-nine (39) lawmakers and secured thirty-two (32) co-sponsors/supporters on our legislative priorities. Nineteen (19) co-sponsors and supporters on American Laws for American Courts and thirteen (13) co-sponsors and supporters on the Offenses Against the Unborn Bill.
Neither they nor CFC’s executive director, Anthony Vertigo is resting on their laurels. They are planning another Legislative Prayer Breakfast and Citizen Lobby Day in Tallahassee the week prior to the close of the Florida legislative session on May 2nd, to assure that those ALAC commitments and others are honored.
CFC, according to its executive director Verdugo has been going to Tallahassee for 10 years to lobby on issues like ALAC and OAUC. CFC has more than 1,500 pastors and churches and over 16,000 members in Florida. Its scorecard in conducting Citizen Lobbying on social issues of concern has been effective.. Verdugo said in an email that CFC’s among successes were the bi-partisan Stand for Israel resolution, Prayer Time in Schools, etc. – Parental Notification, Ultrasound Bill, Boy Scout Resolution, and Parental Rights Resolution. A so-called Anti-Bullying and Domestic Partnership bills were dropped. “All told, we have made the difference on about [a] dozen bills over the last ten years”.
While it is too early to tell, the fourth try at passing ALAC is yielding some initial success, The House version of ALAC HB903 passed the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on March 18th on a partisan vote of 8 Republicans to 4 Democrats. The House version of ALAC has been also referred to the Judiciary Committee for a hearing. That is the last Committee hearing before a Floor vote is to be scheduled. A looming first hearing on the Senate version, SB 0386, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25th before the Senate Judiciary Committee.. SB0386 has also been referred to Government Oversight and Rules before a possible floor Vote.
ALAC in Florida may have better prospects than in the three previous sessions. The evidence from research of recognition of foreign laws in a significant number of lower court and appellate level decisions in Florida may answer legislators’ questions of why it is needed. Protection of Florida’s women and children from foreign laws appears to put a human face on why ALAC should be passed. Nonetheless, political horse trading will be crucial in navigating the legislative process to a possible successful conclusion in the 2014 session in Tallahassee.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.