Bans on court use of sharia/international law: 16 bills in 12 states to start 2017; Arkansas House and Montana Senate versions differ on constitutionality of same sex marriage.

The 2017 legislative session appears poised to pick up where the 2015/2016 sessions left off with respects to attempts to ban state courts from using or making reference to foreign/international law in general and sharia law in particular. Among the legislation:

Oregon SB 479 specifically targets sharia by name. As I mentioned when this came up in 2015, the Oregon bill’s specific naming and targeting sharia is similar to an Oklahoma effort that was struck down by federal courts as a violation of the First Amendment.

Arkansas HB 1041 approved by the House last week 63-24 provides

A court ruling or decision violates the public policy of this state and 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 does not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision one (1) or more of the following fundamental rights, liberties, and privileges granted under the Arkansas Constitution or the United States Constitution

Among those rights listed is the “right to marry, as “marriage” is defined by Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 83.” Amendment 83 provides “Marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman.” The lead sponsor of the bill indicated he believed “that marriage is between a man and a woman, not between the same sexes.

The other bill to advance so far was Montana’s SB 97 which cleared the Senate 27-21 on February 3. It too mentions marriage, but does not explicitly limit it to one man and one woman.

A court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision violates the public policy of Montana and is void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its ruling or decision on a law, legal code, or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the Montana constitution or the United States constitution, including but not limited to due process, equal protection, freedom of religion, speech, or press, the right to keep and bear arms, and any right of privacy or marriage.

Full list of bills below the fold.

  1. Arkansas HB 1041 Approved by full House 2/6/17. In Senate Judiciary Committee.
  2. Connecticut HB 5547 In Joint Committee on Judiciary.
  3. Iowa HF 223 In House Judiciary Committee.
  4. Idaho HB 94 In House State Affairs Committee.
  5. Indiana SB 16 In Senate Judiciary Committee.
  6. Indiana SB 56 In Senate Judiciary Committee.
  7. Kentucky HB 40 In House Judiciary Committee.
  8. Kentucky HB 131 In House Judiciary Committee.
  9. Missouri HB 299 In House (no committee)
  10. Montana SB 97 Approved by full Senate 2/3/17. In House Judiciary Committee.
  11. North Dakota HB 1425 Hearing in House Judiciary Committee 2/8/17.
  12. Oregon SB 479 (Specifically mentions sharia) In Senate Judiciary Committee.
  13. South Carolina HB 3188 In House Judiciary Committee.
  14. Texas HB 45 In House (no committee).
  15. Texas HB 498 In House (no committee).
  16. Texas SB 93 In Senate State Affairs Committee.