American Laws for American Courts legislation is progressing through the Florida legislature.
In the House of Representatives, Rep. Larry Metz’s HB351 has already passed through the House Civil Justice Subcommittee and the House Judiciary Committee and is set for a floor vote soon.
In the Senate, Senator Alan Hays’ SB58 has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Jillian Rayfield over at Salon.com has chosen to cover this story by getting it wrong:
First, the headline of her article is inaccurate: “Florida advances Sharia ban”
No, Ms. Rayfield, American Laws for American Courts does not “ban” Sharia. Evidently, she did not bother to actually READ the legislation. There is no mention of Sharia anywhere in the bill. Nor would it ban Sharia. That is a myth. American Laws for American Courts is designed to protect individual, fundamental constitutional rights. In as much as Sharia is compatible with individual fundamental constitutional rights, there is no conflict. If Sharia is not compatible with individual fundamental constitutional rights, then conflicts could indeed arise, because in America we must abide by the US constitution.
Second comes the sub-headline (note we haven’t even gotten to her actual article and it is already littered with flaws!): “The state Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill to ban “foreign law”
Once again, not so. SB58 is NOT a ban on foreign law. Had Ms. Rayfield actually READ the bill she would have known that. American Laws for American Courts is not a blanket ban on foreign law. That is another myth spread by people who don’t appreciate our constitutional rights. What American Laws for American Courts does is prevent a court in the state from applying a foreign law or foreign legal doctrine if the application of that foreign law or foreign legal doctrine would result in the violation of any of the parties’ fundamental constitutional rights. The operative language:
Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision violates the public policy of this state and is void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency 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 the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed by the State Constitution or the United States Constitution.
Ms. Rayfield repeats her mistake in the first paragraph of the article when she writes that the bill “prevents courts from considering ‘foreign law’ when handing down legal decisions.”
None of that language appears anywhere in the bill. The words “consider” or “considering” do not appear in the bill language. Nor do the words “prevent” or “prevents.”
Ms. Rayfield provides an assist to the Miami Herald’s own disinformation campaign when she quotes them. The Herald claims that SB58 would “ban courts or other legal authorities from using religious or foreign law…”
The equally moronic reporter who penned that homily was Rochelle Koff. Wrong, Ms. Koff. READ THE BILL.
There is NO mention anywhere in the bill of religious law. In fact, the only mention of religion at all in the bill is to ensure that it cannot be used to violate the 1st amendment sanctity of religion. Again, American Laws for American Courts does NOT ban any foreign law. It does NOT ban any religious law. What it does is protect the fundamental constitutional rights of Floridians, something that Jillian Rayfield and Rochelle Koff evidently have a problem with. We find that particularly curious, since one of those fundamental constitutional rights is contained in the 1st amendment of the US constitution, including freedom of the press.
Ms. Rayfield goes on to say that “bills like this have popped up in state legislatures across the country…” Actually, Ms. Rayfield, American Laws for American Courts hasn’t just “popped up,” it has passed into law in 4 states since 2010 with overwhelmingly bipartisan votes in each case.
Finally, Ms. Rayfield claims that back in 2011 neither Rep. Metz nor Senator Hays could name an instance in which a state court had used “international” or “Islamic law” to make a decision. (First a point of clarification: “international law” and “foreign law” are two very different things. ALAC has nothing to do with international law at all. Evidently, Ms. Rayfield does not know what international law is.)
We won’t be so presumptuous as to speak on behalf of Messrs. Metz or Hays, but we certainly can speak to the issue of whether Islamic law had been used in a state court to make a decision. The Center for Security Policy has produced an invaluable report on the subject, entitled Shariah Law and American State Courts: An Assessment of State Appellate Court Cases. The report evaluates 50 Appellate Court cases from 23 states that involve conflicts between Shariah (Islamic law) and American state law.
These cases are the stories of Muslim American families, mostly Muslim women and children, who were asking American courts to preserve their rights to equal protection and due process. These families came to America for freedom from the discriminatory and cruel laws of Shariah. When our courts then apply Shariah law in the lives of these families, and deny them equal protection, they are betraying the principles on which America was founded.
The study’s findings suggest that Shariah law has entered into state court decisions, in conflict with the Constitution and state public policy. The American Public Policy Alliance has provided links to the 10 most instructive examples:
Since Ms. Rayfield couldn’t be bothered to read a 5-page double-spaced piece of legislation, it hardly comes as surprising that she failed to research the issue of Shariah arising in US courts.
Significantly, of the 50 sample cases analyzed by the Center for Security Policy, four were in fact from the state of Florida:
Islamist leaders in the US often declare that Shariah is compatible with the constitution. Again, in as much as Shariah is compatible with fundamental constitutional rights, there is no conflict. But if those Islamist leaders are being dishonest, and Shariah does violate fundamental constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, due process and equal protection, then conflicts could arise.