BREAKING: Anti-Shariah Bill Sponsors Are Kind of Clueless

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


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.

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly 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