This past November, Oklahoma voters by a 70–30 percent margin passed a ballot question that barred “state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.” The new law — which was widely considered as unfairly targeting the Muslim community and blaming it for the non-existent threat of Sharia law in the United states — was blocked by an injunction issued just a few weeks later by federal judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange. The judge argued that the Sharia ban was unconstitutional because it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment and unfairly singled out Muslims.
Yet despite the injunction of the Oklahoma law, legislators in at least 13 states across the country have introduced or passed similar bills designed to protect us from the non-existent threat of Sharia law being imposed on the United States. Here is a list of the bills being introduced around the country that build off the same ideas as the Oklahoma law:
— ARKANSAS: Arkansas’s anti-Sharia bill is SB 97, which says that the “the recognition and enforcement 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.”
The proliferation of fearmongering anti-Sharia laws over the past year demonstrates a rise in legislative action that threatens to entrench feelings of hostility and ill will towards Muslim Americans. “I’ve never seen it like this, even after 9/11,” Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told USA Today. “In another time, this would be laughed out of the Oklahoma Legislature.” Yet unfortunately, leading conservatives continue to lend support to the sensationalist anti-Sharia movement. Newt Gingrich is even pushing for a federal law that “clearly and unequivocally states that we’re not going to tolerate any imported law.”