Welcome to Kalamna, the student blog of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bill to Ban Foreign Laws Approved by Kansas Legislature

The bill, known as SB 79, was approved in the Kansas House and Senate earlier in May. Its text resembles other anti-sharīʿa bills that I have written about, which draw on model legislation proposed by the American Laws for American Courts organization; the main provision of SB 79 prohibits any foreign laws from being practiced in Kansas.

The Kansas State Capitol (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

SB 79, summarizes Gavel to Gavel, defines 'foreign law,' 'legal code' or 'system' as "any law, legal code or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations and tribunals and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies or other formal or informal tribunals."

One reason the bill passed by a wide margin was that it does not explicitly single out a particular religion.

Currently, SB 79 awaits the signature of Governor Sam Brownback; he has until Friday May 25th to sign it. He also has the option of a veto, which groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have lobbied for. Even if Governor Brownback signs the bill, it is not clear whether it will stand or will later be struck down by higher courts.

Supporters of SB 71

Supporters of SB 71 like Rep. Peggy Mast (R-Emporia) argue that it protects women and children from unfair treatment and the intolerance of the sharīʿa. "I find sharīʿa law to take away all the rights of women," said Senator Susan Wagle (R-Wichita)."They stone women to death in countries that have sharīʿa law, they [women] have no rights in court, female children are treated brutally.  In this great country of ours and in the state of Kansas, women have equal rights."

As in other states, supporters of SB 79 argue that American courts must be protected from the encroachment of foreign laws; thus the bill is not aimed at discriminating against Muslims. "We don't have any intolerance in this bill. Nobody's stripped of their freedom of religion. This is talking about the law, American law, American courts," said Senator Ty Masterson (R-Andover).

An example of threatening foreign laws cited in the debate on the bill was as follows. In Sedgwick County, Hussein Hamdeh, a Professor of Physics at Wichita State University, filed for divorce from his wife in November 2010, and asked the court to honor a sharīʿa-based prenuptial agreement; according to the terms of this agreement, his wife was to receive a $5,000 compensation payment from him, which would cover any outstanding claims that she would have on his property.

David Yerushalmi, a lawyer behind many of the anti-sharīʿa bills, expressed his support for the legislation, in an interview with media personality Ezra Levant (below).

Opponents of SB 71

Opponents cited discrimination and unfairly singling out the sharīʿa."I believe this bill is unconstitutional (and) intolerant," said Senator Tim Owens (R-Overland Park). "I think this bill will set Kansas out as a place not to go if you believe any other way than particularly a very small religious-right perspective […]. This country is based on freedom. And it isn't 'you can only be free if you think like me'." 

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has denounced SB 79, and held a press conference along with the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim American Society in front of the Capitol Building last Friday in Topeka to lobby the governor to veto it (below).

1 comment:

adidas Murah said...

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