South Carolina Jumps on Sharia Law Bandwagon
The crusade against the “ever growing threat” of Sharia law has marched on into South Carolina. Following the lead of places like Oklahoma, Rep. Wendy Nanney and Sen. Mike Fair introduced a legislative initiative aimed at preventing “a court or other enforcement authority” from enforcing foreign law. The two conservative sponsors of the bill hope to “preempt violations of a person’s constitutional rights” that result from the application of foreign law.
Foreign law of course is the new dog whistle for Sharia law.
Like similar state measures, proponents of the South Carolina law point to the “unique values of liberty” that do not exist in foreign legal systems and a concern tat those foreign laws are increasingly finding their way into U.S. court cases, especially in the area of family law. In some cases individuals in divorce and child custody cases have attempted to invoke Sharia law, says Christopher Holton with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy (CSP).
Of course, there’s a big difference between attempting to invoke Sharia law to settle a dispute and a judge successfully relying on Sharia law to settle a dispute. Neither Holton nor CSP, nor any proponent of these judicial protectionism measures can point to such successes, let alone a growing trend of them, to justify the need for such a measure.
And these bills may sound nice in talking points aimed at a conservative base, but they do little to really guard against the perceived Islamist threat lawmakers identify. As seen in Oklahoma, attempts to insulate judicial opinions from the influence of foreign law has a myriad of unintended consequences, like inadvertently calling into question U.S. treaties with various Native American tribes, and clouding contractual choice of laws provisions in global commerce.
Not to mention the fact that it displays a profound ignorance of the history of our legal system. The American legal system is a hybrid of common law (developed primarily in England through the courts of law and equity) and civil code systems prevalent throughout the rest of Western Europe. Our Constitution may be, in many ways, the unique product of the American experience, but our jurisprudence is significantly more commonplace than the anti-Sharia law proponents seem to understand.
photo courtesy of attawayjl via Flickr