Bans on court use of sharia/international law: a look at the 2014 bills; Missouri attempts repassage after veto, Vermont has its first such bill, and Michigan also is now considering an anti-sharia bill.
We aren’t a full week into the legislative cycle and already have a few bills that purport to ban state court use of sharia/international law. As was the case in 2013, these are heavily modified bills from the originals introduced in 2010 and, in the case of Oklahoma, struck down by a federal court.
Specifically, most bills have now been reworded so as not to imply that the they are anti-Muslim only bills, even though they are.
- does not use the word “sharia” specifically, instead refers to “international” or “foreign” laws
- applies only to a particular case type (such as family law or domestic relations)
- does not infringe on the right to contract
- does not apply to not apply to a corporation, partnership, limited liability company, etc.
Missouri’s bill in particular is worth noting. SB 267 of 2013 was vetoed by that state’s governor, Jay Nixon, who noted that among other things the bill might void foreign adoptions. There was a successful veto override in the Senate, but the House override failed by a single vote. SB 619 of 2014 in effect, puts the language of the governor’s veto message into the older bill.
In addition this it the first year Vermont has seen such a bill introduced (SB 265).
Not included in the list below, lawmakers in Michigan are considering a bill that would ban Sharia law in that states courts, but the measure is being opposed fervently by The Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR), a Muslim activist group, and in some states that have already approved anti-Sharia legislation, such as Oklahoma, CAIR has actually filed suit in an attempt to reverse the anti-Sharia law. In November, Oklahoma voters approved a referendum that prevents that state’s courts from considering “international or Shariah law” in their decisions.
In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder is being pressured by CAIR to veto the legislation completely but on Tuesday there were no signs that the governor would appease the minority group, as the Michigan House of Representatives began talks considering the anti-Sharia measure.
While the proposed Michigan policy doesn’t mention “Islam” at all, it would prohibit the inclusion of any “foreign laws” that could undermine “constitutional rights.” The legislation in many states is being drafted by a template used by the American Public Policy Alliance, a nonpartisan advocacy group. APPA describes itself as “dedicated to government transparency, government accountability and the constitutionality of U.S. and state laws and policies.”