13 States Introduce Useless Bills to Ban Sharia Law

Let the unchecked and unnecessary hysteria continue.

By Jamilah King Feb 09, 2011

Are you ever afraid that fundamentalist Muslim extremists will take over your state court house? That’s the idea behind the radical right’s peddling of the myth that the Islamic legal code Sharia law will somehow make its way to the United States. The code is usually represented in the West as one mandating that rape victims or battered wives be stoned to death, and more broadly pointed to as evidence Islam’s mythical barbarism. Those sorts of ideas have formed the undercurrent of anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. for decades.

Now, over a dozen states are taking the same misguided road traveled by voters in Oklahoma who passed a bill to guard against the non-existent threat of Sharia law on America’s shores. The attempt was largely criticized for unfairly targeting and blaming Muslims, a reason cited by Federal Court Judge Vicki Miles-LeGrange in the decision to issue a federal injunction. But that hasn’t stopped more than a dozen other states from forging ahead. Think Progress has this round-up:

  • ALASKA: Rep. Carl Gatto (R) has introduced SB 88, which invokes the Constitution to make sure that "foreign law is prohibited."

  • ARIZONA: Arizona’s anti-Sharia law is HB 2582, the "Arizona Foreign Decisions Act." In addition to banning the implementation of Sharia law, the bill would also ban "canon law, halacha and karma."

  • ARKANSAS: Arkansas’s anti-Sharia bill is SB 97, which says that the "the recognition and enforcement (.PDF) of a foreign judgment or ruling is limited to the extent that its 33 enforcement would not directly conflict with the public policy of Arkansas."

  • GEORGIA: Rep. Mike Jacobs (R) has introduced a bill that would "ban the use of Sharia law in state courts." Jacobs says of the issue, "We’re seeing more of a feeling that Sharia law should be applied in domestic cases." "Arbitration is a routine business exercise by people who are prepared to sacrifice some of their constitutional rights in return for reduced cost and expediency," said Michael J. Broyde, a "member of the Beth Din of America — the largest Jewish law court in the country," in response to the law. "[The bill would] incapacitate Georgia companies as they engage in international commerce."

  • INDIANA: Indiana’s SRJ 16 would make it so that courts could not enforce a "law, rule, or legal code or system established and either used or applied in a jurisdiction outside the states of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the territories of the United States if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by this constitution or the Constitution of the United States."

  • LOUISIANA: Louisiana passed a law guarding against "international law" being used in its courts in June 2010.

  • MISSISSIPPI: House bill 301 was introduced to ban "Mississippi courts from using foreign laws, including Sharia law, which is a guide to Islamic religious practice."

  • NEBRASKA: Legislative Bill 647 aims to "prohibit Nebraska courts from using foreign laws in decisions.)" If passed, it will have to be voted on by Nebraska voters in 2011 because it is a constitutional amendment.

  • SOUTH CAROLINA: In South Carolina, Sen. Mike Fair (R) has introduced legislation to ban the implementation of Sharia law, saying there is "a need to clarify that cultural customs or foreign laws don’t trump U.S. laws." He does admit, however, that his bill is "stating the obvious."

  • TEXAS: State Rep. Leo Berman (R) recently introduced a constitutional amendment "prohibiting a court of this state from enforcing, considering or applying a religious or cultural law." If the legislature passes the amendment, it will appear on the November 2011 ballot for Texas voters to approve.

  • SOUTH DAKOTA: South Dakota’s anti-Sharia bill is HRJ 1004, which says that no court "may apply international law, the law of any foreign nation, or any foreign religious or moral code with the force of law in the adjudication of any case under its jurisdiction."

  • UTAH: Rep. Carl Wimmer (R) introduced a bill banning Sharia but then shortly withdrew it after being warned it could harm "international business," admitting it was "too broad." He is still looking for ways to ban Sharia. 

  • WYOMING: State Rep. Gerald Gay (R) says his bill banning Sharia law is "a ‘pre-emptive strike‘ to ensure judges don’t rely on Shariah [sic] in cases involving, for example, arranged marriages, ‘honor killings’ or usury cases."