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Kansas governor signs law prohibiting use of foreign law

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback [official website] on Friday signed a bill [HB 2087, PDF] into law that prohibits state courts, tribunals and agencies from basing any decisions "in whole or in part" on foreign or religious law. The law also prohibits enforcement of any contract made between two parties that is grounded in foreign or religious law and fails to provide either party with the same rights granted under the US or Kansas Constitutions. Supporters of the law, including Brownback, say it is not discriminatory [AP report] but simply protects citizens from being held to standards of foreign law. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [official website] National Executive Director Nihad Awad had urged the governor not to sign the bill and claims it is unconstitutional discrimination [CAIR news report] against Muslims. The law does not specifically single out Sharia, but it is suspected that banning the use of Sharia was its main purpose. The law will take effect on July 1.

The Kansas Senate approved the bill [JURIST report] last week after it was approved unanimously by the Kansas House of Representatives. Similar laws have been passed in other states, sparking controversy. In March, the Florida House of Representatives passed a law [JURIST report] prohibiting the use of foreign or religious law in state court decisions. Tennessee, Louisiana and Oklahoma have all also passed similar laws. Oklahoma's bill, however, was blocked [JURIST report] by a federal appeals court for specifically mentioning Sharia.

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