Legislating because they can?

Posted April 20, 2011
Updated April 21, 2011

The state House Judiciary C committee sent a bill to the House floor today, even though no one - not even the sponsor - could come up with any evidence that it's needed.

House Bill 640, sponsored by Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, would, according to the bill analysis, "prohibit the application or enforcement of a foreign law in a legal proceeding if doing so would violate a right granted by the North Carolina or United States constitutions."    It would also nullify provisions in contracts or agreements "calling for the application of foreign law or choosing a foreign venue...if it violated a constitutional right of a party." 

Cleveland said the measure would protect North Carolinians from someone "going to a foreign law book." 

Democrats on the committee pointed out that the federal and state constitutions already supersede other laws, and that international law principles are well-established in courts and law schools.

Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, warned that the bill could cause serious problems for treaties and business contracts in NC. She asked for comment from the Department of Commerce and international business experts. Neither was there to testify.

"I'm not understanding the need for this law," Weiss said. "I'm not sure what problem we're fixing."  

Cleveland said he's running the bill because of "a couple of federal cases a few years back."

Rep. Verla Insko asked Cleveland twice for an example of a case that would show a need for the bill. "I do not have any specific examples off the top of my head," Cleveland finally replied.  

"Has it been passed in other states?" Insko asked.

"I believe it has, in some form or other," Cleveland answered. 

Actually, more than 15 states have or are currently considering such legislation, which is aimed at concerns that Islamic Sharia law is encroaching on the American judicial system. It's a common topic on right-wing radio, but proof of any real encroachment is scarce, to put it mildly. 

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 that unconstitutional.  

Since then, newer versions of the measure in states from Arkansas and Texas to Indiana and Alaska have been more carefully worded. Cleveland's version makes no mention of religion at all, and it wasn't mentioned in committee.   

But House Minority Leader Joe Hackney has no doubt. "It's about sharia," he said "It's part of the far-right agenda. The extreme far right agenda."


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  • atticush Apr 26, 2011

    The Republicons running the show in Raleigh are beyond parody. Watching this General Assembly is like watching a Monty Python movie. Without the laughs. Oh, and we are still waiting on that Republicon "Jobs! Jobs! Jobs" Plan they told us about last Fall during the campaigns.

  • jcd241959 Apr 26, 2011

    Comrad obama is doing a fine job, for the russians!

  • 6079 SMITH W Apr 21, 2011

    Where's the Cornucopia of Jobs you promised, GOP? Remember? You all SWORE that, once you broke out of exile, AFTER 100 YEARS, you'd have this state ship-shape in no time flat......keep up the foolishness, we saved your dungeon for you just in case of an eventuality like this. ;)

  • 6079 SMITH W Apr 21, 2011

    It's 1933 in North Carolina all over again! Maybe the next bright idea will be requiring everybody to show their party badges before they can buy food. That wouldn't be any more far-fetched than this nonsense.....More action from the "Less Government" crowd. ;)

  • weasel2 Apr 21, 2011

    This why they can't get anything done. To busy working at doing nothing.

  • PurlsOfWisdom Apr 21, 2011

    What a waste of good oxygen. Let's dock Cleveland's pay for taking up valuable time on such a useless bit of clap-trap.