South Carolina's Anti-foreign Law Bill Will Protect All Citizens
by CHRIS CARTER
May 16, 2011
The South Carolina State House, in Columbia, S.C.
The South Carolina Senate is currently debating legislation that would ban the enforcement of foreign and religious laws - including Islamic sharia law – but opponents claim the bill would violate the constitutional rights of Muslims. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In April, a Judiciary subcommittee conducted two hearings (on two separate days) on Senate Bill 444, which would prevent foreign and religious law from violating an individual's constitutional rights. A third subcommittee hearing is in the offing.
S.C.'s bill does not mention sharia law, and appears to avoid religious infringement altogether, unless the religious law would violate the rights of another: “A court, arbitrator, … or enforcement authority may not enforce a foreign law if it would violate a constitutionally guaranteed right of this State or of the United States. The provisions of this section apply only to actual or foreseeable violations of the constitutional rights of a person caused by the application of the foreign law.”
Howard Stravitz, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, testified at the South Carolina subcommittee hearing that the bill would violate Muslims' freedom of religion. Stravitz did not respond to The US Report’s request for clarification.
“The backers of these discriminatory proposals realize if they put specific references to Sharia or Muslims, it won't pass constitutional muster,” said Ibrahim Hooper, Director of Communications at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
When The US Report contacted Hooper to clarify which elements of S. 444 he considered unconstitutional, Hooper instead sent material related to Oklahoma's attempt at banning sharia rather than South Carolina's legislation. Senate Question 755 was approved by 70 percent of voters before being blocked by a federal judge.
It bears noting that CAIR recently made headlines when the Department of Justice scuttled pending terror-financing prosecutions against the organization and one of its co-founders. Both were listed as un-indicted co-conspirators in the trial against the Islamic charity group, Holy Land Foundation, which sent over $12 million in donations from the U.S. to the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas. CAIR is linked to both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to establish sharia law not only in the U.S., but worldwide.
David Yerushalmi, a lawyer and expert on Islamic law, called Oklahoma's Senate Question 755 “poorly drafted” as sharia was left open for vague interpretation. Yerushalmi wrote that “There are patently constitutional ways to legislatively preclude sharia from raising its ugly head in our legal system and to do so in clearer, more legally precise ways than was achieved by Question 755.”
It appears that the stumbling block is to what degree each state defines foreign laws: a federal judge blocked Oklahoma's ban when a plaintiff from CAIR contended that by blocking sharia in state courtrooms, Muslims' were essentially denied their freedom of religion as the plaintiff defined sharia as a religious practice rather than an authoritative legal-political-military system.
Both Louisiana and Tennessee passed anti-foreign law bills in 2010 – albeit without specific reference to sharia – that have not been overturned.
The underlying problem is that many Muslims consider Islamic religious laws to be divine commandments which trump man-made laws such as the Constitution.
In 2007, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) issued a fatwa, or Islamic legal ruling stating that “Islamic law does not recognize [man-made law], either fully or in part.” While not all U.S. Muslims may agree with the supremacy of sharia, the fact remains that a Muslim legal organization within the United States commanding Muslims to follow sharia and not federal and state laws.
The AMJA has issued other rulings which call for the execution for apostasy and blasphemy, as well as condone marital rape, female genital mutilation, and the stoning of adulterers.
How could a law preventing an individual from violating the rights of another be unconstitutional? No one seems to have a substantive answer. Instead of answering the question, the bill’s opponents continue to put forth strawmen like “the bill would adversely impact international trade,” which it would not in any way shape or form.
Moreover, according to our sources, when questions by the opponents were fully and adequately answered by the bill’s proponents during the hearings, the answers were ignored and the same questions were repeated by the bill’s opponents later in the hearings.
Perhaps the focus should be shifted from legislation that aims to protect constitutional rights to the imported legal system that undermines constitutional rights.
In a sane world, advocating for the undermining of our Constitution would be called sedition.