Muslim groups are in a frenzy over the measure signed by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback which is meant to stop the state’s courts and government agencies from making decisions based on foreign legal codes. Even though Islamic Sharia Law would most likely fall under the definition of the measure, it is not specifically aimed at it. It instead states that no rulings from administrative agencies or state tribunals can be based on any legal system or foreign law that contradicts the rights of states and the U.S. Constitution.
“This bill should provide protection for Kansas citizens from the application of foreign laws,” said Stephen Gele, spokesman for the American Public Policy Alliance, a Michigan group promoting model legislation similar to the new Kansas law. “The bill does not read, in any way, to be discriminatory against any religion.” According to the Associated Press. However, the alliance website does state that it wants to protect Americans’ freedoms from foreign laws and legal doctrines, “especially Islamic Shariah Law.”
Muslims organizations including the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) claim they will most likely challenge the law in court because supporters of the law often speak concern about Sharia law specifically. They argue the law could cause discrimination. “If he claims it has nothing to do with Shariah or Islamic law or Muslims, then he wasn’t paying attention.” CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said of Governor Brownback.
Although there are no known cases of Kansas courts deferring to Sharia law, it would appear they don’t want it to become an issue. There is a pending case were a man is attempting to divorce his wife and seeing the property be divided in accordance with Sharia law.
House Substitute for SENATE BILL No. 79 will take effect July 1st.