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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

More on Bills Targeting Foreign Law: Kansas, Oklahoma and Florida


In Kansas, some members of the Catholic community have expressed concern that SB 79 could lead to interference in the operations of the Catholic Church. Elaborated Michael Sean Winters in a recent editorial, "if a group of parishioners decide they do not like their pastor and, having raised the money to build their church building, take the bishop to court asking for control of the church building, will the courts of Kansas say that the cannon law of the Church has no bearing on the case?"  He continued, "after all, the current Code was signed by Pope John Paul II and the Vatican is a 'foreign jurisdiction.'"

Proponents of the SB 79 have repeatedly made assurances to the contrary; section 7 of the bill addresses such concerns, to a certain extent.


In Oklahoma, another bill banning foreign law recently failed to pass. Senator Dan Newberry (R-Tulsa) authored Senate Bill 671, which prohibits foreign law from being practiced in Oklahoma courts. “Our legal code is much more than just a series of rules and procedures – it is the expression of our unifying principles,” said Newberry last week in an Oklahoma State Senate press release.

He continued, “our laws reflect our values and ideals, and those who embrace and wish to protect those values should be pleased by this bill’s passage. It’s simple - either you wish to see our law used to determine court rulings, or you think it’s appropriate for foreign law to excuse or justify crime in our state.”

In the end, SB 671 passed in the Senate, but was not heard in the House. Newberry expressed disappointment at that outcome, but vowed to reintroduce the bill next year. He suggested that the SB 671 is not discriminatory. "This bill says that no international or religious law can be used when deciding a court case in the state of Oklahoma. So it doesn't limit it to just sharīʿa law," he said.

Florida and elsewhere

In Florida, Senator Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) introduced SB 1360, which blocked foreign law; the latter bill failed to pass this March. However, Hays said that he will reintroduce a similar bill next year.

Bills prohibiting the practice of foreign law remain under consideration and could be theoretically passed in 2012 Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

Jocelyn said...

Interesting post indeed. Reading this post is educational. I learned a lot from this.

Munir said...

The anti-sharia movement in the American Midwest and South is based on not so thinly veiled racism and deep seated ideas about Islam's fundamental otherness.

However, I think the movement could help us think critically about the form that sharia has taken in countries where it serves as a legal code. There are some tough questions that we need to ask about the role of sharia in those societies.

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CPR in Kansas