State lawmakers have given final approval to ban courts from recognizing "foreign law" in family court matters.
The House originally approved the bill in May, but it was turned into an abortion bill by Senate leaders. So, a new version had to be produced, said sponsor Rep. Chris Whitmire, R-Transylvania.
It prohibits courts from recognizing "foreign law" if it infringes on U.S. or state constitutional rights. The bill doesn't use the term "sharia" because a federal appeals court ruled in 2012 that a sharia law ban passed in Oklahoma was unconstitutional and discriminatory against Islam.
Whitmire said the "foreign law'" language in his proposal has been enacted without court challenge in five other states.
"It protects constitutional rights, especially of women and minorities," he said. "There are times to where the judiciary is forced to legislate from the bench."
Opponents point out that the Constitution already prevents such infringements by foreign law.
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, called the measure "a ban in search of a problem."
He also warned that the "foreign law" language could cause problems for cases involving marriage, divorce or pre-nuptial agreements in other countries or cultures. For example, he said it would also disallow legal recognition of divorce arbitration panels used in the orthodox Jewish community.
"This isn’t a 'sharia law' ban as such, though the intent is clearly that's what it’s supposed to be," he said.
The House voted 75-37 Wednesday night to support the measure. The Senate approved it last Friday by a vote of 31-2, despite skepticism voiced by Democrats and even some Republicans.
It now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature or veto.