BREAKING: Anti-Shariah Bill Sponsors Are Kind of Clueless


On Wednesday, members of the North Carolina House debated HB 640, a bill to ban the use of Islamic Shariah law in state courts. This is nothing new: Since the beginning of 2009, two dozen states have considered such proposals, stemming from concerns that unless serious action is taken, American citizens will be forced to adhere to a draconian interpretation of Shariah. That’s the argument, at least, but through each of these bills, there’s been one nagging flaw—no one can explain, when pressed, why such legislation is necessary.

At this point, the drill is getting kind of familiar. How familiar? Well, here’s Laura Leslie, of Raleigh’s WRAL:

Rep. Verla Insko asked [State Rep. George] Cleveland twice for an example of a case that would show a need for the bill. “I do not have any specific examples off the top of my head,” Cleveland finally replied.

Hey, that sounds similar to the scene on Tuesday when the Missouri House voted on a bill to ban Islamic law from state courts:

[State Rep. Jamilah] Nasheed called on [State Rep. Paul] Curtman to provide a list of cases in which international law had been used in American courts but Curtman was unable to provide an example of such a case.

Missouri in March:

“I don’t have the specifics with me right now but if you go to—the web address kind of escapes my mind right now. Any Google search on international law used in the state courts in the U.S. is going to turn up some cases for you.”

Alabama last month:

[State Sen. Gerald] Allen could not readily define Shariah in an interview Thursday. “I don’t have my file in front of me,” he said.

Georgia in February:

[State Rep. Mike Jacobs] acknowledged that he was not aware of any instances in Georgia where a plaintiff or defendant asked the court to apply Sharia law but believes it has happened elsewhere.

Alaska in March:

In a hearing before the House State Affairs Committee, [State Rep. Carl] Gatto’s chief of staff, Karen Sawyer, said Sharia is an example of the type of transnational law that has appeared in family law, divorce and child custody cases nationally, though she knows of [no] instances of it appearing in Alaska courts.

South Carolina on Wednesday:

None of the senators nor Kevin A. Hall, a Columbia attorney who testified in support of the bill, were aware of any examples in South Carolina where courts upheld sharia law over the U.S. Constitution.

South Dakota in February:

[I]n testimony this week, proponents of a Sharia ban could not produce a single South Dakota case in which Islamic law had been a problem.”

Oklahoma last November:

Mr. Boughton acknowledged that he did not know of an instance in which Shariah law had been invoked by the courts.

Ok, I’ll stop. But maybe you’ve noticed a trend? America’s got some issues. If you’re looking for a way to doing something about them, you’re probably better off praying for rain.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate