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Judge: Law that outlawed female genital mutilation unconstitutional, charges dropped against doctor

Posted: 11:39 AM, Nov 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-21 00:45:34Z

A federal judge has dismissed several charges against Dr. Jumana Nagarwala in the historic female genital mutilation case, ruling that the federal law against female genital mutilation is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that Congress did not have the power to enact a federal law that banned female genital mutilation in the United States.

Instead, Friedman made the argument that the law was too broad and it violated Congress' powers, as the law does not stand up to scrutiny under either the Necessary and Proper Clause or the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.

He also found that laws penalizing Female Genital Mutilation should be handled at the state level, similar to laws regarding Criminal Sexual Conduct, battery or child abuse.  

Shannon Smith is the Defense Attorney for Dr. Nagarwala.  

She says the ruling is "absolutely a huge victory. When you actually studied the law they enacted, there was no constitutional basis for them to enact the law. It’s really an issue that should be left to the states."

Smith also claims the doctors did not perform Female Genital Mutilation, saying instead they performed a mild form of female circumcision.

"What Dr. Nagarwala was doing, if we had gone to trial, would have been vindicated that she was not mutilating little girls. While we’re happy with the victory and we’ll certainly take it, there’s a part of me that’s a little disappointed that the public isn’t going to see the evidence brought out at a trial to see that she was never guilty of it in the first place," Smith said.

The ruling comes after Friedman also dismissed a "conspiracy to transport minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity" charge in January. That was the only count that could have lead to life in prison for both Nagarwala and Dr. Fakhruddin Attar.

Friedman's ruling leaves two counts in place in the case. Nargarwala is charged with "conspiracy to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct," and four of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.

Judge dismisses several charges in FGM case by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd