Friday, January 14, 2011

Texas Lawmaker Stokes Shariah Fears

Despite a recent permanent federal injunction against a similar law in Oklahoma, a conservative Texas state representative is pushing legislation that would ban "religious or cultural law" from Texas courtrooms. The legislation, proposed by Rep. Leo Berman (R), mandates "A court of this state may not enforce, consider, or apply any religious or cultural law." While the proposed legislation does not explicitly mention Shariah law,
Ibrahim Hooper, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a D.C.-based civil rights advocacy group, says the resolution and similar legislation being proposed in Indiana are violations of First Amendment rights and are essentially hypocritical.

“What we are seeing is those that are trying to enact laws targeting the American Muslim community’s constitutional rights realize they are not going to pass legal muster,” Hooper said. “So they are finding backdoor, roundabout ways to accomplish the same thing.”
Berman is perhaps best known for his recent introduction of an Arizona-style immigration bill and the Texas "birther bill," proposed legislation that would require the submission of birth certificates by all presidential and vice presidential candidates to the Texas Secretary of State. While I am not sure about everything else, based on Bergan's track record it looks like bigots at least may well be bigger in Texas.


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  2. Am I missing something or is this entirely symbolic? A hateful symbol to be sure, but this is already covered in the separation of church and state, right? So not only is it nice and bigoted, it's also completely redundant.

  3. There is actually a surprising amount of gray area when it comes to the inclusion of religious or cultural law in the broader processes of US law. According to Ibrahim Hooper, who we cited in the article, the legislation would also negatively effect the way that the state would have to handle births, deaths, wills, and marriages that include references to a person’s faith. Hooper cites reference to Jewish law in a marriage contract or an individual's specification in a will to be buried in a Catholic cemetery as examples.