Sen. Lee “not so” Bright.
New Anti-Sharia Legislation Introduced in Several States
The 2014 legislative year has already seen legislation proposed that would ban the application of Sharia law in state courts. There are currently nine states that have introduced some variation of a bill aiming to block Islamic law. Most of the bills have carried over from 2013 with the exception of Vermont, which has introduced its first bill of this stature.
The bills are intended to combat the perceived threat that Muslims are undermining the United States Constitution and imposing Sharia law. Although almost none of the bills mention Sharia or other religious law specifically, instead opting for more neutral language, such as “foreign” and “international” law, their intent to vilify Muslims remains very much the same.
The bills are modeled after legislation entitled American Laws for American Courts (ALAC), which was authored by anti-Muslim lawyer and activist David Yerushalmi. The decision to explicitly leave out words like Sharia and Islam reflects a recent court case in Oklahoma where a federal judge ruled that legislation directly targeting Sharia law was in violation of Muslims’ Constitutional rights. However, the bill was amended and secured Oklahoma as the sixth state to enact such a law. Now even more states are looking to pass their own versions.
South Carolina State Senator Lee Bright (R) is one of the lawmakers trying to pass this type of legislation in his state. Bright is a prime example of the paranoia and anti-Muslim demagoguery behind these bills. Over the summer, Bright, who is primarying Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for a 2014 Senate seat, accused the senator of being a “community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood.” This was after Graham took a diplomatic trip to Egypt with Senator John McCain (R-AZ). In a recent speech, Bright also went on a diatribe about Muslim immigration, asserting that the country might be admitting terrorists.
“We got to be careful about who we let into this country,” he told the crowd. “A lot of these folks from terrorist nations are coming in on student visas, and we shouldn’t allow it.” Later in the speech, Bright referred to immigrants crossing the Southern border unlawfully as “an invasion” and claimed some of them might have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Bright is not the only state representative looking to have a bill of this category passed, however. Listed below are all of the proposed 2014 anti-Sharia bills:
Florida has introduced Senate Bill 386. The bill’s sponsor is Sen. Alan Hays (R), who last year proposed SB 58, which died on the Senate floor. Hays has previously compared Sharia law to a “dreadful disease,” and its only vaccination is anti-Sharia legislation.
Georgia has introduced HB 895 and SR 808 prohibiting courts from recognizing foreign and international law.
Iowa’s House Bill 76 was carried over from 2013 and has been referred to a Judiciary House Committee.
Kentucky has introduced HB 43, which has been referred to a House Judiciary Committee.
Missouri has re-introduced SB 619. The bill’s sponsor is Republican State Senator Brian Knieves, an anti-immigrant legislator and member of the State Legislators for Legal Immigration. SB 619 was vetoed last summer by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.
South Carolina has introduced three bills: HB 4494, which specifically bans Sharia, and SB 60 and 81, both of which were carried over from 2013. Sen. Bright is responsible for SB 81.
Mississippi has introduced HB 44, which has been referred to a House Judiciary Committee.
Vermont has introduced SB 265 and is the state’s first anti-Sharia bill.
West Virginia has introduced SB 2116, which is currently in a Judiciary House Committee.
Washington has introduced SB 6118 and HB 1392, which carried over from 2013.
Legislation outlawing Sharia law in state courts remains unnecessary and a distraction from more pressing matters. The background of the laws and its fringe sponsors show their true intent and has no place in our legislative process.
For more on Senator Lee Bright and his controversial views, visit The National Memo here.
“Lee Bright Warns of Immigrant ‘Invasion’ From ‘Terrorist Nations’” (via Right Wing Watch)