In the past, American courts – even a few in Iowa – have gone to great lengths to justify a legal position, sometimes looking beyond our nation’s borders. But, a bill offered in the Iowa House of Representatives yesterday is meant to rein that in.
House File 135, offered by state Rep. Ralph Watts (R-Adel) and co-sponsored by 12 of his colleagues, is more a statement than an actual law. It says it is the policy of the State of Iowa to protect its citizens from the application of foreign laws that violate their constitutionally protected rights.
The phrase “foreign law” means any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including but not limited to international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals. It does not, however, include the laws of American Indian tribes within Iowa.
HF 135, if approved, would apply to all legal matters, including litigation, arbitration, and the forming of contracts. The bill exempts businesses that contract to subject themselves to foreign law.
The proposed legislation has been forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee.