Kansas ‘Shariah bill’ blocks Islamic law from state courts
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a law aimed at keeping the state’s courts or government agencies from using Islamic or other non-U.S. laws when making decisions. Similar proposals have been considered in 20 states, according to The Associated Press (AP). The Kansas law is likely to face a legal challenge.
The law has been dubbed the “Shariah bill” because critics say it targets the Islamic legal code. But the law does not specifically mention Shariah law, in an apparent bid by state legislators to avoid the fate of a 2010 Oklahoma bill that expressly banned Sharia law and was blocked by federal courts.
The law prohibits state courts and agencies from basing rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions. Sherriene Jones-Sontag, the governor’s spokesperson, said the law “makes it clear that Kansas courts will rely exclusively on the laws of our state and our nation when deciding cases and will not consider the laws of foreign jurisdictions.”
Supporters say the law reassures foreigners, particularly women and children, in Kansas that state laws and the U.S. Constitution would protect them. They also say that the law prevents infiltration of foreign laws into U.S. courts.
Opponents say that the law is unnecessary because American laws prevail on U.S. soil and that it promotes discrimination against Muslims. “Underlying all of this is demonizing Islam and marginalizing American Muslims,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the AP.
There are no known cases in Kansas or elsewhere in the United States where a court has specifically based a ruling on Islamic law. Supporters of the Kansas bill cite a pending case in Sedgwick County involving a man divorcing his wife who has asked for property to be divided under a marriage contract in line with Shariah law.