According to an Associated Press article published for News 14 Carolina, a bill that would prohibit the application of Islamic law in North Carolina courts passed the state House this Thursday, after being “narrowed to keep it alive as a looming deadline threatened to remove it from consideration through the end of the session in 2014.” If passed by the state Senate, the bill would prohibit judges and agencies from “applying part of any foreign system [including shari’a] that would lead to violations of constitutional rights in domestic and child custody cases.” Laura Leslie at WRAL.com adds that the bill, HB 695, was modeled on legislation “authored by oustpoken and controversial critic of Islam” David Yerushalmi — who according to a 2011 New York Times profile “is a Brooklyn attorney with a history of inflammatory statements about Islam, race and immigration but “no formal training” in Islamic law.” In an Associated Press article published for The San Francisco Chronicle, Chris Kardish writes that Democratic lawmakers have called the bill “preemptive and unnecessary,” arguing that “the Constitution already forbids the application of foreign law and no instances have been reported in the state.” To read a copy of HB 695, click here.
On the same topic, John Celock at The Huffington Post reports that drafters of HB 695 were careful not to “specifically mention” shari’a, after an Oklahoma ban explicitly banning it was blocked and found unconstitutional by a federal court last year. According to the article, these “foreign law bans” have become popular with conservative lawmakers in recent years, and have managed to be passed in seven states thus far — including Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee. According to an Associated Press article published for the San Francisco Chronicle, there’s a good chance Alabama could be joining these states in the near future as well, seeing as it’s legislature recently passed a foreign law bill of its own “in a swift-moving late-night session.” In deciding to ban foreign law as opposed to specifically targeting shari’a, Maggie Clark at the Stateline News reports that new bans aren’t just causing a problem for Muslims, “but for people who marry or divorce abroad, adopt abroad, or conduct business abroad. Foreign law bans are a solution in search of a problem, and they’re going to create a bunch of new problems.” Nevertheless, Omar Sacirbey at Religious News Service argues, as a result of their change in tactics the anti-shari’a movement has started to see increased success passing legislation:
The change in language seems to have helped such bills advance in several states. [But] while these bills no longer single out Shariah, it is often understood that Shariah is the target, which many legislators make no secret of.
Echoing these sentiments, Faiza Patel, Matt Duss, and Amos Toh at The Center for American Progress discuss some of the findings of their recent report, writing that “[t]he most vociferous proponents of foreign law bans [remain] a small network of activists who cast Muslim norms and culture [...] as one of the greatest threats to American freedom since the Cold War.” To read the full report published by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, click here.