Bans on court use of sharia/international law: 33 bills in 20 states to start 2012; review of all efforts since 2010

January 30th, 2012 by Bill Raftery Leave a reply »

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2012 marks the third year in a row to see major legislative efforts to ban state courts from using sharia or international law. A recap:

2010

Write up of all 2010 efforts here

2010 saw three efforts make their way out of their respective legislatures. The Oklahoma constitutional amendment would never take force, having been struck down by a federal district court, a determination upheld by the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in January 2012.

  • Louisiana HB 785 & SB 460: “Foreign law” means any law, rule, or legal code or system established and used or applied in a jurisdiction outside of the states or territories of the United States…A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, mediation, or enforcement authority shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States.
  • Oklahoma HJR 1056 (Constitutional Amendment): Prohibits the courts to “look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider Sharia Law or international law.” Requires courts adhere only to the U.S. & Oklahoma Constitutions, federal and state law and regulations, and where necessary the laws and regulations of another state.
  • Tennessee HB 3768 & SB 3740: Defines “law, legal code, or legal system” means a law, legal code, or legal system used or applied in any jurisdiction outside of Tennessee, including any foreign state, jurisdiction, country or territory of the United States…Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, and subject to provisions of superseding federal treaties, any otherwise enforceable contract which incorporates any substantive or procedural law, legal code or legal system of another state, foreign jurisdiction or foreign country that would violate rights and privileges granted under the United States or Tennessee Constitution is declared to be against public policy of this state and is unenforceable in this state.

2011

Write up of all 2011 efforts here

Despite having far more bills introduced in 2011 than in 2010, there was only one such piece of legislation enacted

  • Arizona HB 2064 Defines “foreign law” as “any law, rule or legal code or system other than the constitution, laws and ratified treaties of the united states and the territories of the united states, or the constitution and laws of this state….a court, arbitrator, administrative agency or other adjudicative, mediation or enforcement authority shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the united states or conflict with the laws of the united states or of this state.”

2012

15 sharia/international law bans were carried over from the 2011 session. Combined with 18 newly introduced bills this puts the issue front and center for the 2012 sessions. Already there has been activity, with the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee giving its approval to a ban.

Full roster of 33 bills introduced in 2012 in 20 states and their statuses after the jump.

Bill Provisions Status
Alaska HB 88 Prohibits a court, arbitrator, mediator, administrative agency, or enforcement authority from applying a foreign law if application of the foreign law would violate an individual’s right guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Alaska or the United States Constitution. Approved by House State Affairs Committee 3/17/11. Approved by House Judiciary Committee 4/4/11. Carried over from 2011 session.
Alabama SB 33 (Constitutional Amendment) Enacts American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment. Provides “A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, arbitrative, or enforcement authority shall not apply or enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate any state law or a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States.” In Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Alabama SB 40 (Constitutional Amendment) Defines foreign law as “any law, rule, or legal code, or system established, used, or applied in a jurisdiction outside of the states or territories of the United States, or which exist as a separate body of law, legal code, or system adopted or used anywhere by any people, group, or culture different from the Constitution and laws of the United States or the State of Alabama.” Provides “A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, arbitrative, or enforcement authority shall not apply or enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate any state law or a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States.” In Senate Judiciary Committee.
Alabama SB 84 (Constitutional Amendment) Defines foreign law as “any law, rule, or legal code, or system established, used, or applied in a jurisdiction outside of the states or territories of the United States, or which exist as a separate body of law, legal code, or system adopted or used anywhere by any people, group, or culture different from the Constitution and laws of the United States or the State of Alabama.” Provides “A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, arbitrative, or enforcement authority shall not apply or enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate any state law or a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States.” In Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Florida HB 1209 Provides “foreign law, legal code, or system” means any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations or tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals. Provides the term does not include the common law and statute laws of England as described or any laws of the Native American tribes in the state. Declares “Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision violates the public policy of this state and is void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its ruling or decision in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code, or system that does not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed by the State Constitution or the United States Constitution.” In House Judiciary Committee, Civil Justice Subcommittee.
Florida SB 1360 Provides “foreign law, legal code, or system” means any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations or tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals. Provides the term does not include the common law and statute laws of England as described or any laws of the Native American tribes in the state. Declares “Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision violates the public policy of this state and is void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its ruling or decision in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code, or system that does not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed by the State Constitution or the United States Constitution.” Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee 1/25/12.
Georgia HB 45 Provides “the term ‘foreign law’ means any law, rule, or legal code or system established and used or applied in a jurisdiction outside of the United States or its territories…A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other tribunal shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States.” In House Committee on Judiciary. Carried over from 2011 session.
Georgia HB 242 Declares “‘foreign law’ means any law, rule, or legal code or system established and used or applied in a jurisdiction outside of the United States or its territories…A court, administrative agency, or other tribunal shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States.” In House Committee on Judiciary Non-Civil. Carried over from 2011 session.
Georgia SB 51 Provides that no court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other tribunal shall enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States In Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Carried over from 2011 session.
Indiana HB 1166 Provides that a court may not apply, enforce, or grant comity, res judicata, claim preclusion, or issue preclusion to a foreign law, ruling, or judgment if doing so would violate the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Constitution of the State of Indiana. Provides that a provision in a contract or agreement: (1) that provides for the choice of foreign laws in its interpretation; or (2) that provides for the choice of venue or forum; and that would result in a violation of a fundamental liberty, right, or privilege guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Constitution of the State of Indiana is void and unenforceable. Prohibits a court from granting certain motions if the transfer is likely to affect the constitutional rights of the nonmoving party. Provides that a court may not require or authorize any court to: (1) adjudicate or prohibit a religious organization from adjudicating ecclesiastical matters; or (2) determine or interpret the doctrine of a religious organization. In House Committee on Judiciary.
Indiana SB 36 Prohibits the enforcement of a foreign law (defined as a law established and used outside the jurisdiction of the United States) if the enforcement would violate a right granted by the Indiana or United States Constitution. Provides that a provision in a contract or agreement calling for the application of foreign law is not enforceable and is void if the provision cannot be modified, unless the contract explicitly states that it will be enforced in accordance with foreign law. Prohibits a court from granting certain motions to transfer a case to another jurisdiction if the transfer is likely to affect the constitutional rights of the nonmoving party. In Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Indiana SB 90 Prohibits the enforcement of a foreign law (defined as a law established and used outside the jurisdiction of the United States) if the enforcement would violate a right granted by the Indiana or United States Constitution. Provides that a provision in a contract or agreement between natural persons calling for the application of foreign law is not enforceable and is void if the provision cannot be modified. Prohibits a court from granting certain motions to transfer a case to another jurisdiction if the transfer is likely to affect the constitutional rights of the nonmoving party. In Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Iowa HB 489 Defines “foreign law, legal code, or system” as “any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including but not limited to international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals.” Provides “It is the public policy of this state that the primary factor which a court, administrative agency, arbitrator, mediator, or other entity or person acting under the authority of state law shall consider in granting comity to a decision rendered under any foreign law, legal code, or system against a person in this state is whether the decision rendered violated any right of the person in this state guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Iowa, the Constitution of the United States, or any statute enacted or decision issued under the constitution of the state of Iowa or the United States.” In House Judiciary Committee. Carried over from 2011 session.
Iowa HB 575 Enacts “Iowa Freedom and Sovereignty Act.” Defines “Foreign law” as “any law enacted by a jurisdiction or a governmental or quasi-governmental body other than the federal government or a state of the United States. “Foreign law” includes a religious law, legal code, accord, or ruling promulgated or made by an international organization, tribunal, or formal or informal administrative body.” Provides “any foreign law or other law that is in conflict with the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, or the Constitution of the State of Iowa shall not have force or effect in this state…It is the public policy of this state that the only factor that a court, administrative agency, arbitrator, mediator, or other person acting under authority of this state’s laws shall consider in granting comity to a decision rendered under a foreign law that affects a sovereign citizen of this state is whether the decision violates the sovereign citizen’s rights under the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Iowa.” In House State Government Committee. Carried over from 2011 session.
Iowa HJR 14 (Constitutional Amendment) Provides the state courts “when exercising judicial power, shall uphold and adhere to the law as provided in the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Iowa, the United States Code, federal regulations, established common law, the Iowa Code, the Iowa administrative code, and if necessary the law of another state of the United States provided the law of the other state does not include Sharia law. The courts shall not use the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law. The provisions of this section shall apply to all cases before the respective courts including but not limited to cases of first impression.” In House Judiciary Committee. Carried over from 2011 session.
Kansas HB 2087 Defines “foreign law,” “legal code” or “system” means any law, legal code or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations and tribunals and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies or other formal or informal tribunals. Provides “Any court, arbitration, tribunal or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any law, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under the United States and Kansas constitutions.” Approved by full House 3/30/11. In Senate Committee on Judiciary. Carried over from 2011 session.
Michigan HB 4769 Defines “foreign law,” as “any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals.” Provides “A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, mediation, or enforcement authority shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States.” In House Committee on Judiciary.
Michigan SB 701 Defines “foreign law,” as “any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals.” Provides “A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, mediation, or enforcement authority shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States.” In Senate Committee on Government Operations.
Nebraska LB 647 Declares a court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its rulings on any foreign law, legal code, or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decisions the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Nebraska. In Senate Judiciary Committee. Carried over from 2011 session.
Indiana HB 1166 Provides that a court may not apply, enforce, or grant comity, res judicata, claim preclusion, or issue preclusion to a foreign law, ruling, or judgment if doing so would violate the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Constitution of the State of Indiana. Provides that a provision in a contract or agreement: (1) that provides for the choice of foreign laws in its interpretation; or (2) that provides for the choice of venue or forum; and that would result in a violation of a fundamental liberty, right, or privilege guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Constitution of the State of Indiana is void and unenforceable. Prohibits a court from granting certain motions if the transfer is likely to affect the constitutional rights of the nonmoving party. Provides that a court may not require or authorize any court to: (1) adjudicate or prohibit a religious organization from adjudicating ecclesiastical matters; or (2) determine or interpret the doctrine of a religious organization. In House Committee on Judiciary.
Indiana SB 36 Prohibits the enforcement of a foreign law (defined as a law established and used outside the jurisdiction of the United States) if the enforcement would violate a right granted by the Indiana or United States Constitution. Provides that a provision in a contract or agreement calling for the application of foreign law is not enforceable and is void if the provision cannot be modified, unless the contract explicitly states that it will be enforced in accordance with foreign law. Prohibits a court from granting certain motions to transfer a case to another jurisdiction if the transfer is likely to affect the constitutional rights of the nonmoving party. In Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Indiana SB 90 Prohibits the enforcement of a foreign law (defined as a law established and used outside the jurisdiction of the United States) if the enforcement would violate a right granted by the Indiana or United States Constitution. Provides that a provision in a contract or agreement between natural persons calling for the application of foreign law is not enforceable and is void if the provision cannot be modified. Prohibits a court from granting certain motions to transfer a case to another jurisdiction if the transfer is likely to affect the constitutional rights of the nonmoving party. In Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Missouri HB 1512 Provides court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code, or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the United States and Missouri constitutions, including, but not limited to, due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state. In House (no committee).
Missouri SB 676 Mandates that any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling shall be unenforceable if based on a foreign law that does not grant the parties the same rights as the parties have under the United States and Missouri constitutions. In Senate (no committee).
New Hampshire HB 1422 Declares that no New Hampshire court shall enforce foreign law or a state law enforcing foreign law if such enforcement violates an individual’s or corporation’s rights under the New Hampshire constitution or the United States Constitution. In House Committee on Judiciary.
North Carolina HB 640 Declares “it to be the public policy of this State to protect its citizens from the application of foreign law that would result in the violation of a right of a natural person guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution or the United States Constitution. The public policies expressed in this section shall apply only to actual or foreseeable violations of a constitutional right resulting from the application of the foreign law.” In House Committee on Judiciary Subcommittee C. Carried over from 2011 session.
New Jersey AB 919 Provides that a foreign law may only be recognized by a court in New
Jersey if it does not violate any right guaranteed by the Constitution
of this State or of the United States of America.
In Assembly Judiciary Committee.
New Mexico SJR 14 (Constitutional Amendment) Provides “The courts provided for in this article, when exercising their judicial authority, shall uphold and adhere to the law as provided in the United States constitution, the constitution of New Mexico, statutes of the United States and federal regulations adopted pursuant thereto, established common law, New Mexico statutes and state regulations adopted pursuant thereto and, if necessary, the law of another state of the United States, provided that the law of the other state does not include Sharia law. The courts shall not consider or apply a rule of comity to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, international law, laws promulgated by foreign governments or national laws of foreign countries if the consideration or application of the foreign precepts or laws would violate the public policy of the state of New Mexico or reduce or impair the rights of any resident of the state of New Mexico existing under New Mexico statutes or common law governing child custody, rights of married persons, property rights, protection from domestic violence or any criminal law. The courts shall not consider or apply Sharia law. The provisions of this section shall apply to all cases before the respective courts, including, but not limited to, cases of first impression.” In Senate Rules Committee.
Oklahoma HB 1552 Provides any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any law, rule, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions. Approved by full House 3/17/11. In Senate Rules Committee. Carried over from 2011 session.
Pennsylvania HB 2029 Provides a tribunal shall not consider a foreign legal code or system which does not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Pennsylvania. In House Judiciary Committee. Carried over from 2011 session.
South Carolina HB 3490 Provides “As used in this section, the term “foreign law” means any law, rule, or legal code or system established and used or applied in or by another jurisdiction outside of the United States or its territories…A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, mediation, 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.” In House Judiciary Committee. Carried over from 2011 session.
South Carolina SB 444 Provides “As used in this section, the term ‘foreign law’ means any law, rule, or legal code or system established and used or applied in or by another jurisdiction outside of the United States or its territories….A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, mediation, 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.” In Senate Judiciary Committee. Carried over from 2011 session.
South Dakota SB 136 Provides any ruling or decision that makes use of international or foreign law is void and unenforceable if the court bases its ruling or decision in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code, or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the constitutions of the United States and South Dakota, including due process of law, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically provided by the constitution of this state. Foreign law, legal code, or system is any foreign law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals. Specifies the term foreign law does not include any tribal laws of the Native American tribes in the state. In Senate Judiciary Committee.
Virginia HB 631 Provides that court decisions and contracts and other agreements will be void as violative of the public policy of the Commonwealth where such decisions or contracts are based on foreign law, i.e., law applied in a jurisdiction outside of the United States, where the application of such foreign law would violate a person’s rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Constitution of Virginia. In House Committee for Courts of Justice.
Virginia HB 825 Prohibits any Virginia court or administrative agency from applying the law of any jurisdiction outside of the United States and its territories unless the application is required by the United States Constitution, the Constitution of Virginia, or any federal or state law. In House Committee for Courts of Justice.
West Virginia HB 3220 Provides “”foreign law, legal code or system” means any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals…It is the public policy of this state that the primary factor which a court, administrative agency, arbitrator, mediator or other entity or person acting under the authority of state law shall consider in granting comity to a decision rendered under any foreign law, legal code or system against a natural person in this state is whether the decision rendered either violated or would violate any right of the natural person in this state guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of West Virginia or the United States Constitution or any statute or decision under those Constitutions.” In House Judiciary Committee. Carried over from 2011 session.

14 comments

  1. Anne says:

    Your tax dollars at work!

  2. GMA215 says:

    Yes, my tax dollars at work and I say good for them. Who could blame anyone for trying to protect themselves from islamization? Well, I KNOW who could, and who will, but I mean among reasonably sane, civilized people?

  3. FG says:

    Michigan HB 4769 and Michigan SB 701 were also carried over from 2011.