The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal reports:
“Since 2010, at least 10 states have passed laws aimed at fighting what a network of far-right organizations insist is the encroachment of Sharia law into American courts.
State Rep. Thomas Weatherston (R-Caledonia) is spearheading an effort to pass a so-called “American Laws for American Courts” bill, which would bar Wisconsin judges from applying foreign laws — including those based on Islamic law — if doing so would violate fundamental human rights protected by the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions.
Weatherston said he’s “not concerned about Muslims.” In fact, his bill, like others across the country, doesn’t explicitly mention Sharia. But he is worried, he said, “about other countries’ laws creeping into the United States.”
“Especially religious laws, no matter what the origin is,” said Weatherston. “I’m just making sure that U.S. laws are heard in U.S. courts.”
Critics, including the American Bar Association and many non-Muslims, argue that the laws are unnecessary because such protections already exist in American jurisprudence. And they’re seen by many as part of a larger agenda to vilify Muslims.
“If you look at the promotional materials, the lobbying, it’s the same people who are pushing against Sharia around the country — holding rallies, talking about ‘Sharia creep’ and Muslims taking over,” said Asifa Quraishi-Landes, who teaches constitutional and Islamic law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and serves as president of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers. “They see any acknowledgment of Sharia in American Muslim life as a first step to the Trojan Horse.”
Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Legislative leaders to reject the bill, saying it’s unconstitutional and “contrary to our nation’s crucial principle of not elevating or marginalizing one faith community.”
Sharia, meaning “path,” is the Islamic law, a set of guiding principles that touch on every aspect of Muslim life, from how one dresses and prays to marriage and business contracts. Aspects of it are embedded in the legal systems of Muslim-majority countries, and its tenets are interpreted variously based on the country and schools of Islamic thought. Those who are suspicious of Islam point to its harsher punishments, such as stoning and amputations in rare cases, and its bias in many cases against women.
American Laws for American Courts, or ALAC, was developed by the nonprofit advocacy group American Public Policy Alliance, David Yerushalmi of the Center for Security Policy and others as a way to address the constitutional challenges raised against the earliest versions of the laws — in Tennessee and Oklahoma — which explicitly singled out Sharia.
The newer versions make no mention of Sharia, referencing instead “foreign laws.” But the groups that promote them openly disparage Sharia as a threat to American values and liberties and a vehicle for imposing worldwide Islamic rule.”
. . . .
“Gélé said there have been hundreds of cases in which Islamic law has been invoked in U.S. courts, often to the detriment of women and children. And Weatherston said his office has found at least 70 others, though “none in Wisconsin, thankfully.”
Quraishi-Landes, the UW-Madison professor, disputes their claims. She said courts already look to public policy and constitutional protections — for example, the right to equal protection — as the bases for their rulings. She said she has reviewed all of the cases cited by the Center for Security Policy and found none in which the courts ultimatelyenforced a religious law that violated a fundamental civil right.
“To us, that is an example of the system working,” she said.
Invoking Sharia principles in a family matter is no different from other religious minorities invoking their religious principles in civil cases, she said, pointing to the Beth Dins, or rabbinical tribunals used by Orthodox Jews to negotiate disputes, which are recognized by state courts.
The “American Laws for American Courts” bills have been criticized by Jewish and Catholic groups concerned that their rights to invoke religious principles could also be affected.
In Catholic church bankruptcies, for example, including Milwaukee’s, the church has cited canon law to defend the way it responded to the sexual abuse crisis and to protect assets.
“Americans who care about religious liberty should be concerned about anti-Sharia laws,” even those purporting to address foreign laws, said Robert Vischer, dean of the School of Law at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis.
“Suggesting that the religious convictions of citizens have no place in our courts misunderstands the function of our legal system and sends a troubling message about the place of religion in our society.”
Read the complete article at the link.
The GOP often “fakes” concern about expenditure of public funds. However, in reality, they waste countless taxpayer dollars pursuing unnecessary, unneeded, and divisive pet projects of the far right.