A district judge in Michigan has declared a federal law banning female genital mutilation unconstitutional, and dropped charges against two doctors accused of subjecting girls to the cutting procedure. U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman concluded that “as despicable as this practice may be,” Congress did not have the authority to pass a law that criminalizes female genital mutilation, and said that it should be a matter for a state to decide. “Congress overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit FGM... FGM is a ‘local criminal activity’ which, in keeping with longstanding tradition and our federal system of government, is for the states to regulate, not Congress,” the judge wrote. Jumana Nagarwala, a physician and the lead defendant in the case, is no longer facing charges of conspiring to commit and committing female genital mutilation—but still faces charges of conspiring to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding.
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