With the massive influx of Muslims immigrating to the United States, more and more state and local courts face the introduction of principles of Sharia law in their courtroom, with the result that some states are taking action to ensure that the Constitution continues to be the law of the land.

Alabama has become the most recent state to prohibit consideration of foreign or religious law that might violate the constitutional rights of its citizens.

The states have addressed the issue using various methods including ballot measure, constitutional amendment or legislation. In November, Alabama voters passed “The American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment” for inclusion in the state Constitution by an overwhelming margin of 72 percent to 28 percent.

Alabama joined six other states with similar foreign law bans, including Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.

Such grassroot bans have drawn severe criticism from Muslim groups, specifically the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), claiming they are discriminatory and Islamophobic.

According to its drafter, Birmingham attorney Eric Johnston, the Alabama amendment does not create any new law nor undermine the religious rights of Muslims, but rather requires judges to consider the religious freedom amendment that has long been a part of existing Alabama law.

“No one’s constitutional rights are affected by it. It’s a reminder to the judges that we need to stick to Alabama laws and public policy.”

A previous ballot measure specifically prohibiting judges from relying on Islamic Sharia law failed in 2012. The new measure carefully avoided using the words “Islamic” and “Sharia.”

Oklahoma voters approved a similar ban using the word “Sharia” in 2010, which was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and found unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

A similar Missouri law was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon citing concerns of a possible impact on foreign adoptions, opening the way for a revised bill to appear on the Missouri ballot in the near future.

Other states considering similar bans include Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. Legislation reintroducing the bans with reworded language excluding the use of the word “Sharia” may be forthcoming in Missouri and Oklahoma.


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