At this week’s GOP presidential debate, former pizza executive Herman Cain did not simply double down on his unconstitutional plan to require Muslim federal workers to swear a loyalty oath, he also engaged in a reality-challenged diatribe about Muslims trying to replace American law with Sharia:
Yes, I do not believe in Sharia law in American courts. I believe in American laws in American courts, period. There have been instances in New Jersey. There was an instance in Oklahoma where Muslims did try to influence court decisions with Sharia law. I was simply saying very emphatically, American laws in American courts.
First of all, Cain’s claim that someone “tr[ied] to influence court decisions” is hardly a serious threat — people present ridiculous legal arguments to courts all the time. One guy sued Anheuser-Busch because Bud Light does not magically cause beautiful women to appear when you drink it. Another sued “Satan and his staff” for causing his “downfall.” Some GOP government officials have even presented courts with the absurd legal argument that the Affordable Care Act violates the Constitution. Any claim that U.S. law should be replaced with Sharia law should be given exactly the same dismissive treatment that all of these utterly meritless legal claims deserve.
Second, there is absolutely no evidence that any court has accepted the bizarre claim that Sharia law displaces American law. A Lexis search of Oklahoma court decisions did not reveal a single court decision referencing Sharia or Islamic law, and the only New Jersey Supreme Court case to mention Sharia, a 1996 case called Ivaldi v. Ivaldi, said that courts should refuse to recognize a Sharia family court’s decision that departed drastically from American law.
It is true that some people have signed contracts or similar agreements agreeing to resolve their disputes under Sharia law, and American law generally requires these agreements to be honored, but that is simply due to the fact that American law typically allows people to be bound by their own word. American contract law would also allow people to agree to be bound by the laws of ancient Rome or by the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons second edition rules.
In other words, Herman Cain is about as likely to be attacked by a chaotic evil, half-orc paladin as he is to be forced to follow Sharia law.