The House approved a bill that keeps judges from considering sharia law in state court decisions.
Instances of American judges using sharia law in rulings make the measure necessary, said Sen. E.S. “Buck” Newton, a Wilson Republican and the legislation’s Senate sponsor. It would protect people’s constitutional rights from being taken away by foreign laws.
“It follows legislation that has been proven in five other states that has not been challenged to date,” said Rep. Chris Whitmire of Brevard, a Republican and the bill’s House sponsor. “This protects women and minorities, it ultimately protects our U.S. and state constitutional rights.”
House Bill 522 will be sent to the governor, after a 75-37 vote. It doesn't specifically mention sharia law, a legal system based on Islamic teachings. It could affect agreements based on other foreign laws, as well, if those agreements are judged as conflicting with the constitutional rights of an involved party.
But critics argue that the bill reaffirms the already well-known fact that the federal and state Constitution should be held above other nations’ rules of law. It is also seen as sending an intolerant message to Muslim-Americans and Muslims abroad.
“It is not in our power to limit what law a court considers,” said Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat. “I believe this to be a classic separation of powers problem."
Previously, the Senate approved the provision when it was glued to a measure restricting abortion providers. But it didn’t get much debate as lawmakers focused on provisions protesters called demeaning to the state’s women. Now the bill has been separated from the abortion restrictions and is in its own separate bill.