An Alabama state senator plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would ban state courts from looking to Islamic Shariah law in adjudicating cases, Hatewatch has learned.
Republican Senator Cam Ward pre-filed the “American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment” with the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 4.
The amendment’s language is clearly drawn from model legislation drafted by anti-Muslim lawyer David Yerushalmi, who equates Shariah with Islamic radicalism so totally that he advocates criminalizing virtually any personal practice that is compliant with Shariah. His “American Laws for American Courts” initiative enjoys support from Muslim-hating blogger Pam Geller, who plumbed new depths of foulness this week by expressing her “love” for the U.S. marines who were videotaped urinating on dead Taliban combatants.
Yerushalmi, who says the “War on Terror” should be a war against Islam “and all Muslim faithful,” has also proposed to outlaw Islam and deport Muslims and other “non-Western, non-Christian” people to protect the United States’ “national character.”
Ward, who could not be reached for comment, apparently shares Yerushalmi’s dislike of immigrants. The Alabama lawmaker is a member of State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), a national coalition that attributes to “illegal aliens” what it describes as “[i]ncreasingly documented incidences of homicide, identity theft, property theft, serious infectious diseases, drug running, gang violence, human trafficking, terrorism and growing cost to taxpayers.”
Since its founding in 2007, SLLI has taken a leading role in fostering xenophobic intolerance in statehouses across the nation. The group works hand-in-glove with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an anti-immigrant hate group whose legal arm devised the draconian immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama, portions of which have been enjoined by courts concerned about their constitutionality. Though Ward did not introduce Alabama’s immigration enforcement law, he has been a vocal supporter of the measure, which is widely viewed as the harshest of its kind.
Ward is not the first Alabama lawmaker to introduce an anti-Shariah measure. In 2011, Republican state Senator Gerald Allen sponsored SB 62, a virtual replica of Oklahoma’s notorious anti-Shariah “Save Our State” amendment, which was struck down on Tuesday by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Allen’s proposal, which singled out Shariah law as its principle target, was not taken up for consideration before last year’s legislative session ended.
Ward may stand a better chance of success. According to the Public Policy Alliance, which hired Yerushalmi to write the “American Laws for American Courts” model legislation, versions of the law have already been passed in Tennessee, Louisiana and Arizona. Unlike Oklahoma’s amendment, none were immediately enjoined. The Public Policy Alliance describes its creation in explicitly anti-Muslim terms, claiming on its website, “we are preserving individual liberties and freedoms which become eroded by the encroachment of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, such as Shariah.” But the legislation itself does not contain any reference to Shariah law or Islam, thus avoiding the issue that immediately flagged Oklahoma’s legislation as unconstitutional.
Ward has not commented publicly about his proposal, so it is impossible to know what inspired him to think that Alabama needs to worry about Shariah law in the first place. The various state proposals banning Shariah, in effect, attack a problem that does not exist and will not under the U.S. Constitution.
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, less than 1% of Alabamans are Muslim. And of all the states in the union, Alabama has unique insight into what happens when theocrats get it into their minds to bring their religion into the courts.
In August 2001, Roy Moore – then-chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court – hauled under cover of night a 5,280-pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments into the building that houses the state’s appellate courts and law library. A coalition of civil rights organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (which publishes Hatewatch), sued, leading U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to rule that the monument created “a religious sanctuary within the walls of a courthouse” and had to be removed. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision on July 1, 2003. When a defiant Moore refused to comply with the order, he was removed from office for ethics violations, and that was that for Alabama courts’ experiment with mingling secular and religious law.
The monument went too. It now resides at a church in Moore’s hometown of Gadsden, Ala.