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Feds to appeal decision to dismiss charges in Detroit-area female genital mutilation case

Best Law

Federal prosecutors said they will ask an appeals court to reinstate genital mutilation charges that were thrown out last month by a Detroit federal judge. On Wednesday prosecutors filed the notice of appeal.

Judge Bernard Friedman ruled in November that a federal law banning female genital mutilation is unconstitutional because Congress does not have the power to regulate a crime of this nature under the Commerce Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Eight people were charged under the law. One was Dr. Jumana Nagarwala. She is accused of performing genital mutilation on nine girls at a Detroit-area clinic. 

The girls were from Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Nagarwala has denied committing any crime. She said she performed a religious custom on girls from her Muslim sect, the India-based Dawoodi Bohra.

The Detroit case is the first to be brought under the more than 20-year-old law that criminalizes performing female genital mutilataion.

Friedman left intact charges of conspiracy to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct against Nagarwala and charges of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding against Nagarwala and three of the defendants. These charges were brought under other statutes and could carry decades-long sentences.

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