Mar 11 2011
Two Republican legislators want to make sure Florida courts aren’t tainted by what one of them calls foreign “shenanigans:” Muslim Sharia law or legal codes from other nations.
Miami Herald —(H/T Robin) –Neither Sen. Alan Hays nor Rep. Larry Metz, though, could name a Florida case where international law or Islamic law has caused a problem in a state court. They said they weren’t targeting
But the legislation, which resembles efforts in a dozen other states where Islamic law is under scrutiny, was copied almost word-for-word from the “model legislation” posted on the website of a group called the American Public Policy Alliance.
“American Laws for American Courts was crafted to protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Sharia Law,” the group’s website says.
Hays, R-Umatilla, said he just wants to protect the rights of Floridians.
“I filed a bill that says in the courts of Florida the laws of no other country can be used to influence the decisions of Florida,” Hays said. “If it’s Sharia law or any other law – I don’t care what law it is – if it’s not a Florida law and if it’s some foreign law, it doesn’t belong in our courts.”
Nezar Hamze, Executive Director of the South Florida chapter of the Terrorist Front Group (CAIR) Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he called Hays’ office a week ago to discuss the “garbage” bill but never got a call back. If the bill passes, he said, “we are prepared to fight it.”
“It’s absurd. I’ve never even heard of a court using Sharia law in making a ruling in a case,” Hamze said. “If it is intended to combat people’s fear of Islamic law, it does a poor job … because it does not mention Islam or Sharia but it does mention foreign law, which affects all religions, not just Islam, because you have Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu laws.”
One reason Sharia isn’t mentioned in the bill is due to the U.S. Constitution’s ban on religious discrimination or favoritism. Citing the First Amendment, a federal judge recently blocked a voter-approved Oklahoma law targeting Sharia.
“Other states have had these shenanigans tried and I don’t want that to happen in Florida.”
Activists with ACT! pointed to a handful of appellate-court cases where Florida courts struggled with Islamic codes and Shariah laws. The cases involved divorce, a contract dispute and an incident where a Muslim women unsuccessfully argued that she could wear a veil for her driver-license photo. In each case, the courts didn’t base their rulings on Shariah but on contractual law precepts and prior court rulings.
The American Public Policy Alliance cites 17 cases on its website where Sharia has been introduced in courts in other states. In most cases, however, courts ruled that Islamic-based laws didn’t apply when they conflicted with laws in the United States.
But the courts have clearly struggled with child-custody and divorce cases that emanate from other countries. Critics of Sharia and Islam in general note that women are considered second-class citizens in many Muslim countries, thereby putting them at a disadvantage in the United States when Sharia laws are considered.