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Alaska seeks to bar foreign law from courts

18 March 2011 General 15 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An Alaskan lawmaker hopes to guard against Islamic Sharia law by prohibiting state courts from honoring foreign law that violates Alaskan or U.S. constitutional rights.

Though the bill’s language does not specifically target Sharia, Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, said the legislation is a reaction to what he sees as the growing use of international law codes in courts that have robbed people of their constitutional rights.

In a hearing before the House State Affairs Committee, Gatto’s chief of staff Karen Sawyer said Sharia is an example of the type of transnational law that has appeared in family law, divorce and child custody cases nationally, though she knows of instances of it appearing in Alaska courts.

“Sharia is clearly offensive to the U.S. Constitution,” Sawyer said. “It is the foremost foreign law that is impacting our legal system.”

Sawyer added that countries following Sharia law do not allow freedom of religion or equal rights to women.

Gatto called the law a preventative measure necessitated by the religious beliefs of recent immigrants.

“As a kid, we had Italian neighborhoods, Irish neighborhoods … but they didn’t impose their own laws,” Gatto said. “When these neighborhoods are occupied by people from the Middle East, they do establish their own laws.”

Sharia law is a set of Islamic principles and religious interpretations that have been adopted into the laws of certain countries, mostly in the Middle East.

The Alaska proposal is based on the American Laws for American Courts act, which has been proposed in several states and versions of which have been enacted in Tennessee and Louisiana, said David Yerushalmi, an Arizona-based attorney who supports the legislation.

In testimony before the committee, Yerushalmi said the law would protect people who are forced to litigate in any country with laws counter to U.S. constitutional protections, not just countries practicing Sharia law.

“Today, we are far more likely than ever before to have foreign laws in American courts,” said Yerushalmi. “There are plenty of occasions in which foreign law informs what Alaskan law could be.”

Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the Alaska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the bill was an unnecessary overreach, and adequate protections for religious freedom in court already exist.

“It’s a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist,” Mittman said.

While Committee chair and bill co-sponsor Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, said he hoped to move the bill out of committee after its first hearing, concerns from lawmakers on how the bill would affect agreements with Alaska Native tribes or neighboring countries led to the bill being held over for further consideration.

Original post: Alaska seeks to bar foreign law from courts


  1. Alaska cannot ignore international law though.

  2. […] Alaska seeks to bar foreign law from courts | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper. […]

  3. >>“As a kid, we had Italian neighborhoods, Irish neighborhoods … but they didn’t impose their own laws,” Gatto said.

    Well, except maybe that divorce stuff, and that woman’s right to choose stuff, and that “I’m a bishop and I on’t give communion to elected officials who have to represent the people in their districts” stuff.

    BTW, you don’t need a law “outlawing” unconstitutional laws. The state and federal constitutions do that, by operation of law.

    I’m trying to think of an analogy, you know, “that’s like saying ….” but I simply can’t come up with something stupid enough.”

    How many times do we have to experience blatant fear and discrimination before we learn that we dishonor ourselves and our country’s ideals with this sort of nonsense?

  4. If what they are doing is unnecessary and is not happening in our court systems then their actions have no meaning so why worry about them? A law forbidding insectoids from establishing cities in the state would also have no meaning.
    I do think, however, that if any law not enacted by the federal or state governments is being used in our court systems (outside of British Common Law) then that is wrong. So I like the legislation as I want to follow the laws from lawmakers I or past Americans have voted for. No other laws or traditions should be considered in our court systems.

  5. Just in case John Q Public is serious: I do not even want to recognize international law in our court systems in any applicaiton that deals with individual U.S Citizens or groups thereof if operating within the United States.

  6. Hey! It sounds like you guys are afraid of Islamic law, now tell me, is there anything wrong from the law that protect people’s rights?

  7. Yes Aliyu there is: We live in a democracy, we vote for people who determine the laws of the land, no other laws are acceptable. I will not obey any other laws as members of my family and millions of U.S citizens have died defending our freedom. I am not interested in the United Nations defending my rights or Islam, or Buddist, or Christians (of which I am one) or anyone else defending my rights. I will rely on my fellow citizens and bear with what results I get.

  8. Criley401 Quote “we live in a democracy, we vote for people who determine the laws of the land, no other laws are acceptable.” you see, that’s where the problem start, you said that you vote for people who determines the laws, what laws? Is there any law better than the law of God? Doing what we think is right is what always put people into trouble, you know that? Because it’s not all that we think is good that’s right. God law is the best, it isn’t about you, it is about the people. We love America

  9. Aliyu, that is sort of scary. Everyone has their own idea of what Gods laws are. That means men have to interpret gods laws and those men would have authority over the rest of us. Before you know it we would have hands being cut off, 9 year old girls married to 40 year old men, women being stoned to death, children being killed because they are disrespectful to their parents, it would be a Hodge podge of rulings by religious courts enforced by religious police. One religion would end up dominating all the others. It would simply be a bad situation. I think a representative democracy is better than what you advocate. I will stick to our current system as that is what I believe in. You do, however, make the case why we may need the laws being introduced in various legislative houses across the country.

  10. Many of these laws do not stipulate shari’aa law by name, they only speak of “foreign laws”- hmph! Are they really so ignorant that they don’t realize that much of US law is derived from “foreign” law- eg English law. And what about people who were married overseas by the laws of some other country- can they divorce in the US? There are countless other examples of the stupidity of these laws, but I can’t be bothered to list them- it just astounds me that Americans (and I’m an American born and bred by the way) can be so ill-informed and naive as to believe the laws and political systems of their country just appeared out of nothing and are somehow purely American and untainted by anything “foreign”.

  11. It is well known that British Common Law is the basis for the start of our legal system. When used it after the revolution because we needed a code of laws to live by and citizens of the 13 colonies were used to living under those laws. Of course, we recognize marriages from other countries, we recognize deeds, contracts, and many other legally binding agreements. It does not mean, however, that a group of people can get together, in the United States, and agree to form committments between themselves based upon religion or laws from another country if the action runs counter to US law. For example, a man wants to marry a 14 year old girl whose family has the same belief system as the man, given that it is a religious tradition and legal where they came from; the families involved cannot enter into such a marriage as it would be child abuse within the United States. A husband bringing into the United States a 11 year old girl he had married in another country should be arrested as a pedophyle upon setting foot within U.S. boarders, regardless if his marriage is recognized in his country of origin. We have standards of conduct that cannot and should not be lowered for any person, race, religion, or nation. Our courts should protect these standards and not bow to traditions or laws of other governments.

  12. AS muslims we have been commanded to obey the laws of the land where we live. We have to obey the laws of the USA like everyone else. Shari’a law isn’t incompatible with that. Polygamy isn’t legal in the US and everyone knows that- but polygamy isn’t CUMPULSORY in Islam, only PERMISSIBLE if some stipulations are met. I don’t have to practice polygamy to be a muslim, but I have to pray, fast, give money to charity, etc.- and the majority of shari’a law deals with things like that. It’s perfectly possible to follow the laws of the US and be shari’a compliant- certain people for certain political reasons are twisting this all around and making a problem where there really isn’t one. *sigh*

  13. Halima, you may be right about the twisting, Christians have tenets of faith that they try to meet some of which match Muslim teachings. I do not want you to think I am simply anti Shari’a I would not want a fundamentalist christian to be making the laws or rules either, we have people that handle snakes, drink poison, refuse to use modern medicine. If you were to allow fundamentalist or ultra conserative Christian groups have much power we all may be wishing for Sharia. There are crazy people on both sides of this issue.

  14. Criley! You made mentioned of foundamentalist, actually ain’t foundamentalist at all, but do you know that it’s only when you able to adhere strictly to the law of your religion or state that you become a good citizen as regards state, but as for religion, be you a christian, muslim or jew, it’s when you adheres to the teachings of your religion that you become a good practicing fellow. Now forget about the blackseep in each society or community, is there anything wrong for someone to strictly adhere to his profession? As a good citizen i do not see anything wrong with that. Shari’a doesn’t mean anything bad to this country, it doesn’t stop the state’s laws from been existing. It is just that people doesn’t really know much about it logic (live n’lets live) that’s why it’s always been misqouted. We (muslims) love America, Islam is absolutely PEACE! PEACE!! Nothing more

  15. I see people try Aliyu, but there are so many different interpretations of the same text. This has to be so in both the Bible and Koran because one can look at the world and see it daily. But the Bible has an incontrovertible moral code which we are commanded to live by. It has commandments we must seek to obey to the best of our ability. It gives Christians one commission that all should try to fulfill. I understand these aspects of the bible fully. I do not want to get tied up on if women can wear pants or if they must wear skirts, Do I need to drink poison every now and then to prove I have gods favor, do I need to worry about the length of someone’s hair, If I have never spoken in tongues does that mean I was never saved? Now these are just some beliefs derived from some parts of scripture that not everyone agrees on but are practiced by different groups. To me these ideas mean nothing and are mere distractions from our intended purpose and can actually get in the way of fulfilling our commission. I would not find it easy or beneficial to practice fundamentalism. I do not like the word easy in the last sentence but I am having trouble finding a word for the concept that is in my mind, so I will leave it.

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