By Marc Caputo | The Miami Herald
Two Republican legislators want to make sure Florida courts aren’t tainted by what one of them calls foreign “shenanigans:” Muslim Sharia law or legal codes from other nations.
Neither Sen. Alan Hays nor Rep. Larry Metz, though, could name a Florida case where international law or Islamic law has caused a problem in a state court. They said they weren’t targeting Sharia, a body of law primarily based on the Koran and the Hadith, the sayings of Islam’s founder, Mohammed.
But the legislation, which resembles efforts in a dozen other states where Islamic law is under scrutiny, was copied almost word-for-word from the “model legislation” posted on the website of a group called the American Public Policy Alliance.
“American Laws for American Courts was crafted to protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Sharia Law,” the group’s website says.
Hays, R-Umatilla, said he just wants to protect the rights of Floridians.
“I filed a bill that says in the courts of Florida the laws of no other country can be used to influence the decisions of Florida,” Hays said. “If it’s Sharia law or any other law – I don’t care what law it is – if it’s not a Florida law and if it’s some foreign law, it doesn’t belong in our courts.”
Nezar Hamze, Executive Director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he called Hays’ office a week ago to discuss the “garbage” bill but never got a call back. If the bill passes, he said, “we are prepared to fight it.”
“It’s absurd. I’ve never even heard of a court using Sharia law in making a ruling in a case,” Hamze said. “If it is intended to combat people’s fear of Islamic law, it does a poor job … because it does not mention Islam or Sharia but it does mention foreign law, which affects all religions, not just Islam, because you have Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu laws.”
One reason Sharia isn’t mentioned in the bill is due to the U.S. Constitution’s ban on religious discrimination or favoritism. Citing the First Amendment, a federal judge recently blocked a voter-approved Oklahoma law targeting Sharia.