Courtroom Judge Has Power to Ban Muslim Veil, Top Michigan Court Decides


Religious Law
Posted Jun 17, 2009, 02:04 pm CDT
By Martha Neil

A divided Michigan Supreme Court has approved a much-awaited rule of
evidence revision that delineates the power of a courtroom judge to
determine witness attire.

Rejecting an American Civil Liberties Union argument that the revised
Michigan Rule of Evidence 611 should contain an exception for
religious dress, the court voted 5-2 to approve a standard that gives
the courtroom judge the power to require witnesses to remove head or
facial coverings, reports the Detroit Free Press.

The rule review was sparked by a small claims case in which a Muslim
woman was asked in a 2006 hearing to remove her niqab so that the
judge could see her face to determine her truthfulness as she was
testifying.

Ginnah Muhammad refused to take off the religious veil, and 31st
District Judge Paul Paruk dismissed her small claims case against a
rental car company as a result. She then filed a federal court suit
against the judge, which was later dismissed, according to the
newspaper and the Associated Press.

An earlier ABAJournal.com post provides additional details.

Additional coverage:

Detroit News: “State Supreme Court issues rule for veils in courtroom”

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