Bans on court use of sharia/international law: 19 bills in 14 states; Arkansas enacts, North Dakota rejects as an “insult to our judges”

Efforts to ban state courts from using or referencing foreign/international law in general, and sharia law in particular, continue apace with two legislatures approving versions while a bill in North Dakota was rejected.

Arkansas enacted a ban (HB 1041). An earlier version noted here would have re-declared that marriage in Arkansas was limited to a man and a woman, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision saying the opposite. The amended/enacted HB 1041 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:
(1) The right to due process;
(2) The right to equal protection;
(3) Freedom of religion;
(4) Freedom of speech;
(5) Freedom of the press;
(6) The right to keep and bear arms;
(7) The right to privacy; or
(8) The right to marry, as “marriage” is defined by the Arkansas Constitution, to the extent that the definition of marriage does not conflict with federal law or a holding by the United States Supreme Court.

Meanwhile the Montana legislature approved a version (SB 97) that is currently pending on the governor’s desk that reads in operative part

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.

Finally, North Dakota’s House approved HB 1425 in February, but in late March the Senate rejected the proposal. At issue was the situation similar to Arkansas, namely, that the bill would have attempted to re-establish a ban on same-sex marriage. Senators objected to the marriage provision and amended it out, but also worried this was an “insult to our judges” and assumes North Dakota judges would violate the U.S. and North Dakota Constitutions without this bill.

Full list of bills below the fold.

  1. Arkansas HB 1041 Signed into law by governor.
  2. Colorado SB 277 In House Judiciary Committee.
  3. Connecticut HB 5547 In Joint Committee on Judiciary.
  4. Iowa HF 223 Approved by House Judiciary Committee 3/2/17.
  5. Idaho HB 94 In House State Affairs Committee.
  6. Indiana SB 16 In Senate Judiciary Committee.
  7. Indiana SB 56 In Senate Judiciary Committee.
  8. Kentucky HB 40 In House Judiciary Committee.
  9. Kentucky HB 131 In House Judiciary Committee.
  10. Maine HP 631 In Joint Judiciary Committee.
  11. Missouri HB 299 In House (no committee)
  12. Montana SB 97 Approved by full House 3/21/17. On Governor’s desk.
  13. North Dakota HB 1425 Hearing in House Judiciary Committee 2/8/17.
  14. Oregon SB 479 (Specifically mentions sharia) In Senate Judiciary Committee.
  15. South Carolina HB 3188 In House Judiciary Committee.
  16. Texas HB 45 In House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee. Hearing on 4/4/17.
  17. Texas HB 498 In House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee.
  18. Texas SB 93 In Senate State Affairs Committee.
  19. West Virginia HB 2769 In House Judiciary Committee.