(Photo: Legislative Service Bureau)
The upper house of the Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill that would prevent the use of religious or foreign laws in American courts.
House Bill 1060, considered by some to be an "anti-Sharia" bill, passed the Oklahoma Senate Monday in a vote of 40 yeas to 3 nays. Due to an amendment being added, it awaits the approval of the bill's author before it can go to the governor.
"Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part on foreign law that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and Oklahoma Constitutions," reads HB 1552.
Republican State Representative Sally Kern, author of HB 1552, told The Christian Post that while considered by some to be an attack on Muslims, the bill is not discriminatory.
"The bill is not biased against any particular group of people. It only deals with protecting our Constitutional rights when any foreign law would be used in an American court to deny any American of their Constitutional rights," said Kern.
This is not the first time that Oklahoma has considered an "anti-Sharia" law. In 2010, about 70 percent of Oklahoma voters approved State Question 755, a measure which said courts could not consider "international or Islamic law when deciding cases." After the question succeeded, a federal judge blocked it from being implemented, declaring it unconstitutional.
When asked by CP how HB 1552 differed from SQ 755, Kern explained that her bill "does not mention any specific group" when forbidding foreign or religious influence on court decisions.
"State Question 755 which passed with a vote of 70 percent of the vote of Oklahoma was declared unconstitutional because it specifically named Sharia law in the text of the bill," said Kern.
"The bill is not an 'anti-Sharia' bill. It is a bill that protects the Constitutional rights of American citizens when there is a dispute that goes to court. This bill has been passed in many other states and has never had one court challenge brought against it."
In 2011, Kern introduced a similar bill known as House Bill 1552. Think Progress, a liberal website, denounced the measure as unconstitutional and unnecessary.
"Kern's bill still violates the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment – the violation that compelled a federal judge to block SQ 755 in the first place," wrote Tanya Somanader of Think Progress regarding HB 1552.
According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, from 2010 to 2012 there were 32 state legislatures that considered bills akin to HB 1060, oft dubbed "anti-Sharia" bills under the belief that their main purpose is to ban Sharia law.
Of them, six states enacted the bills into law. They were Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee. Since 2010, Oklahoma's Legislature has considered three measures brought before its chambers.