Alabama voters approve prohibition against foreign law

Alabama voters approve prohibition against foreign law

[JURIST] Alabama voters on Tuesday passed Foreign Laws in Court Amendment One [text, PDF], a ballot measure that prohibits the use of foreign law to make decisions in Alabama courts. The amendment will be added [AL report] to the state’s constitution after a legislative committee determines where it will best fit and how it should be numbered. Amendment One bars state courts from applying “any law, rule or legal code system used outside of the United States or the State of Alabama.” A similar measure was proposed in 2011 by a sponsor of the amendment, Senator Gerald Allen, but a reference in the text to Islamic Sharia law was deemed a violation of the Constitution and the measure failed to make it to the ballot. The current text does not specifically mention Sharia. One critic of the measure, Randy Brinson of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, called the vote a waste of effort [Reuters report], stating that there was no risk of Sharia being implemented in Alabama in the first place.

Alabama is one of several states to adopt so-called “anti-Sharia” legislation. In August 2013 North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory allowed [JURIST report] a bill that prohibits North Carolina judges from considering Islamic law in their decisions to become law. The decision prevents courts from applying foreign law in divorce, alimony and child custody actions if doing so would violate a person’s federal or state constitutional right. Earlier that month a federal judge in Oklahoma barred the state [Reuters report] from adding a measure to its constitution that would ban state courts from considering Sharia under any circumstances, stating that it would violate the freedom of religion provisions in the US Constitution. In June 2013 Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a similar bill [WP report], asserting that the legislation would make it harder for families to adopt children from overseas.