Bans on court use of sharia/international law: Enacted in Mississippi; activity in 6 other states; WV considered ban on court use of “karma”

2015 saw some 32 pieces of legislation introduced in 17 states to ban or limit the use by state courts of foreign or international law. Of these, Mississippi saw after 5+ years of trying the enactment of such a ban. HB 177 provides in operative part that

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 to a natural person by the United States Constitution or the Mississippi Constitution of 1890.

Notable regarding many of these bills is the continued focus on specifically banning the use by state courts of sharia law (Mississippi HB 493, HB 557, HB 622, HB 1216; Oregon SB 176, South Carolina HB 3521, and West Virginia HB 2994). The specific targeting of sharia was held as unconstitutional in a decision by the Tenth Circuit in 2012 which upheld striking down such a sharia-specific constitutional amendment approved by Oklahoma voters in 2010. West Virginia HB 2994 is of particular note here in terms of not just targeting sharia, but “Canon law, Halacha and Karma”, language almost identical to a bill introduced in Arizona 2010 and 2011 and discussed here.

Details on the legislation introduced in 2015 below the fold.

Enacted

Mississippi HB 177 “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 to a natural person by the United States Constitution or the Mississippi Constitution of 1890.” Signed by Governor, became law 3/23/15.

Active/Pending/Carried Over into 2016

Georgia HB 171 In House Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned. Carried over into 2016 session.

Pennsylvania HB 1288 In House Judiciary Committee.

South Carolina HB 3521 Approved by House Judiciary Committee 5/6/15. On House floor; may be carried over into 2016 session.

South Carolina SB 101 In Senate Judiciary Committee; may be carried over into 2016 session.

Washington HB 1246 In House Judiciary Committee. Carried over into 2016 session.

Washington SB 5192 In Senate Law & Justice Committee. Carried over into 2016 session.

Active in committee/on floor, but died/killed

Arkansas HB 1474 Approved by full House 3/5/15. Motion to withdraw from Senate Judiciary Committee failed 3/30/15. Died in Senate Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned.

Arkansas SB 229 Approved by full Senate 4/1/15. Died in House Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned.

Indiana SB 38 Approved by full Senate 1/29/15. Died in House Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned.

Maine HB 224 Approved by full Senate 6/18/15. Rejected by full Senate 6/18/15.

Montana SB 199 Defeated on 6-6 tie in Senate Judiciary Committee 2/10/15.

New Hampshire HB 461 Tabled by full House 3/12/2015.

Texas HB 562 Prohibits courts from using or referencing foreign law in a proceeding involving marriage, a suit for dissolution of a marriage, or a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. Approved as amended by House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee 4/16/15. Died on House floor when legislature adjourned.

Texas HB 670 Approved as amended by House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee 5/7/15. Died on House floor when legislature adjourned.

Texas SB 531 Prohibits use of foreign/international law in cases involving marriage, a suit for dissolution of a marriage, or a suit affecting the parent-child relationship in this state. Approved by Senate State Affairs Committee 5/18/2015. Approved by full Senate 5/22/2015. Approved by House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee 5/23/15. Died on House floor when legislature adjourned.

Died with no activity

Delaware SB 100 Died in Senate Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned.

Kentucky HB 29 Died in House Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned.

Minnesota SB 1264 In Senate Judiciary Committee. Carried over into 2016 session.

Mississippi HB 493 Died in House Judiciary A Committee when legislature adjourned.

Mississippi HB 1216 Died in House Judiciary A Committee when legislature adjourned.

Mississippi HB 1218 Died in House Judiciary A Committee when legislature adjourned.

Mississippi SB 2116 Died in Senate Judiciary A Committee when legislature adjourned.

Mississippi SB 2702 Died in Senate Judiciary A Committee when legislature adjourned.

Oregon SB 176 Died in House Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned.

Texas HB 828 Died in House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee when legislature adjourned.

Texas HB 899 Died in House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee when legislature adjourned.

Texas HB 3943 Died in House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee when legislature adjourned.

Texas SB 1090 Died in Senate State Affairs Committee when legislature adjourned.

Virginia SB 1318 Stricken at the request of patron in Courts of Justice 1/12/15.

West Virginia HB 2956 Died in House Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned.

West Virginia HB 2994 Died in House Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned.