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Anti-Sharia law heads to House floor

Posted May 15, 2013

— The latest version of a bill intended to protect the constitutional rights of North Carolinians from "foreign laws" is on its way to the House floor after a contentious hearing in the House Judiciary C Committee. 

House Bill 695, entitled "Foreign Laws/Protect Constitutional Rights," is the most recent iteration of legislation intended to keep courts from recognizing Islamic Sharia law in North Carolina. 

Similar measures have been filed or considered in more than 30 other states, but only a few states have voted them into law.

The first version of the legislation was passed by ballot initiative in Oklahoma. It specifically named Sharia and was promptly blocked by a judge who declared it unconstitutional because it singled out a religion.

Since then, newer versions of the measure in states from Arkansas to Florida have been more carefully worded. House Bill 695 makes no mention of religion at all, and it wasn't mentioned in committee.

In 2011, Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, ran the same bill. It, too, passed committee but wasn't taken up before the crossover deadline.

At that time, critics and legal experts warned that the broad language of the bill regarding contracts and foreign venues or courts could violate international treaties and admiralty laws and wreak havoc in international business relationships.

The same issues were raised again Wednesday by Kim Crouch with the North Carolina Bar Association, who said the association's Business Law and International Law committees are opposed to the bill. 

"This is not a necessary piece of legislation," Crouch told the committee, adding that it would raise constitutional concerns.

The North Carolina Values Coalition spoke in favor of the bill. "We do want to protect our citizens," said Laura McGee. "This bill re-clarifies that."

After House Rules Committee Chairman Tim Moore signaled that the bill was unlikely to pass, Cleveland and co-sponsor Rep. Chris Whitmire, R-Transylvania, agreed to amend it so that it would apply only to family law and child custody issues under sections 50 and 50a of state law.

Moore, R-Cleveland, who crafted the change, said it should reduce the chances of unintended consequences in the business community.

"I think this covers what the bill sponsors are trying to do. There's no reason foreign law should be used in such matters," he said.

After the meeting, Moore said he didn't know of any cases in which North Carolina courts have allowed Sharia or any other foreign laws to infringe on anyone's constitutional rights, but he said the sponsors were trying to prevent that from happening.

The danger of the encroachment of Sharia law is a popular topic on right-wing radio and blogs, but to date, there's little evidence that it's actually happening.  Muslim groups say it's a scare tactic used by anti-Muslim activists.

14 Comments

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  • GravyPig May 16, 5:39 p.m.

    "After the meeting, Moore said he didn't know of any cases in which North Carolina courts have allowed Sharia or any other foreign laws to infringe on anyone's constitutional rights, but he said the sponsors were trying to prevent that from happening."

    So I'm not aware of this being a problem, but I'm going to make sure it isn't. This is always the best way to procede with legislation. Let's fix a problem before it has even happened.

  • jdpruner2 May 16, 12:31 p.m.

    It seems to me that the NC Legislature is wasting a ton of time, energy, and taxpayer dollars on making unnecessary laws to hate on Muslims and gays. How about attending to the REAL problems facing North Carolina, like the economy, education, and jobs, and quit this hatemongering already (ironically, in the name of another religion)? Time to vote all of these yahoos out of office.

  • jlp May 15, 8:06 p.m.

    sisu,

    That's why they are known as the Tarheel Taliban.

  • sisu May 15, 4:09 p.m.

    Wait a sec... I thought by allowing all these restrictions on birth control coverage that they were enacting Sharia law.

  • ncmedic201 May 15, 3:55 p.m.

    There are more important issues for our GA to address. They need to quit wasting our time and money on these foolish bills.

  • krimson May 15, 3:45 p.m.

    Ah yes, the GOP... The Stalwarts of Religious Protection and Freedom... Oh nevermind...

  • rushbot May 15, 2:41 p.m.

    What a complete and total waste of time by the nc ga.. .. ..i suppose we have the gop to thank for this..

  • goldenosprey May 15, 2:30 p.m.

    Thank goodness! And in the nick of time! Our womenfolk were on the verge of Burkadom! Everywhere I look, activist jurists are trying to force Sharia down our throats.

    I am so thankful our general assembly would never attempt a state religion. Now they can get back to denying women abortion and contraception rights and cleaning the air with passive smoke. (great for the T zone).

    Where are the jobs, Mr. Tillis?

  • Bendal1 May 15, 2:25 p.m.

    Good old conservatives, pandering to their paranoid, rabidly christian voter base. Take a look at the 1st Amendment, dummies. Your "anti-Sharia" law is nothing but wasted taxpayer money for the time spent discussing it.

  • jttm69 May 15, 1:45 p.m.

    Except when the Republicans try to push their "Christianity" down our throats, that's what Sharia Law is.

    You want to protect the citizens. The only way that is going to happen is to get these clowns out of the State Government.

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