A Texas judge made headlines after he denied a U.S. citizen her constitutionally protected due process rights and ordered her to undergo arbitration through an Islamic tribunal.
Collin County District Judge Andrea Thompson made headlines for a disgraceful ruling that should concern every freedom-loving American. After a Texas woman petitioned to divorce her husband, the judge not only denied her request but handed over her legal matter to an inferior justice system.
As Americans, our government recognizes that we have certain God-given rights and that they must refrain from infringing upon them. However, what happens when it turns over a U.S. citizen to the sovereignty of a foreign legal system operating within our borders? As unbelievable as it sounds, it’s happening in one of the most unlikely states.
According to The Blaze, Judge Thompson ordered a Muslim woman identified as Mariam Ayad to take her petition to a local Islamic court. The judge granted the tribunal, which is known as a Fiqh panel, the authority to decide whether the woman is allowed to legally dissolve her marriage to her Muslim husband, Ayad Hashim Latif.
Thompson ordered Mariam to undergo arbitration, not through the Texas legal system but via the Islamic Association of North Texas, a decision that has shocked her lawyers. The woman’s legal team called the move blatantly unconstitutional and a violation of her rights as an American citizen to due process.
The mess began after the husband told the judge that his wife had signed a prenuptial contract on their wedding day more than 12 years ago. He revealed that the agreement was to have all issues regarding their marriage decided in accordance with Sharia law. Mariam, however, says she was tricked into signing the contract as her husband made her believe that she was merely signing a second copy of their marriage acknowledgment, as is customary in Islam. Incredibly, Judge Thompson refused to allow the wife to testify, ruling that the contract is binding
Mariam’s lawyers insist that the Islamic tribunal, which requires a panel of three Muslim men, is in direct violation of U.S. law. Disturbingly, the judge granted the panel the authority to make decisions regarding alimony, assets, child support, and even custody of the couple’s 6-year-old son. Even more concerning is that, under Sharia law, Mariam’s testimony is considered half as valid as her husband’s.
Mariam’s lawyers filed a writ of mandamus with the Fifth Court of Appeals to overturn the district court’s arbitration order. Once the woman’s appeal made headlines, Judge Thompson made a few changes to the initial order in an effort to make it sound less contentious by removing the words “Islamic,” “Muslim,” and “Fiqh.” The decision, however, still stands.
“It is therefore ordered that Respondent’s Motion to Enforce Islamic Prenuptial Agreement and Refer Case to Muslim Court or Fiqh Panel is granted and the Court refers the case to a Muslim Court or Fiqh Panel for [Alternative Dispute Resolution],” the court order initially read.
Mariam’s legal team said that they have never seen anyone update an order as Judge Andrea Thompson did. It may very well be that she realized her ruling is in direct conflict with both state and federal laws. Thompson has ostensibly submitted to a foreign legal system and violated the constitutional rights of an American citizen in the process.