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Business Groups Shut Down Anti-Muslim Bill In Virginia

15 February 2012 ThinkProgress 13 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Anti-Islamic Delegate Bob Marshall (R-VA)

Anti-Islamic Delegate Bob Marshall (R-VA)

Business Groups Shut Down Anti-Muslim Bill In Virginia

By Ian Millhiser

Last month, a bill intended to combat the nearly non-existent problem of courts citing Sharia law was cruising to passage in the Virginia House of Delegates. For the moment, however, the bill appears to be dead after numerous business groups stepped forward to oppose it:


One bill, HB825 from Republican Del. Bob Marshall of Prince William County, would have prohibited judges and state administrators from using any legal code established outside the United States to make decisions. […]

But when legislators started hearing from business groups concerned about how the proposal could affect their dealings abroad and foreign companies located here, they sent the bill back to committee.

“I had some business concerns,” said Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott County, after making the motion Thursday to kick back the bill. “It’s just something that needs some work.”

It’s unfortunate, if far from unexpected, that similar protests from religious groups, both Islamic and otherwise, were not enough to kill the bill. Nevertheless, the emergence of business opposition to these sorts of bills is a very important development.

The first wave of anti-Islamic bills introduced in state legislatures specifically named “Sharia” or Islamic law as off limits to state court judges. Such laws are unambiguously unconstitutional, as the First Amendment forbids any law that exists for the sole purpose of lashing out at a particular faith. Del. Marshall’s bill short circuits this constitutional limit because it does not expressly call out something unique to a particular faith. Instead, it paints with a broad brush by forbidding citations to any legal code that’s not established in the United States.

The problem with this tactic, however, is that there are all kinds of legitimate reasons why a judge may need to rely on foreign legal sources in order to render a decision. Most significantly, contracts between U.S. and foreign companies frequently require any disputes between them to be resolved under a foreign nation’s law. Needless to say, business don’t like it when lawmakers take away an important tool that they need to conduct international business just to push back against some baseless fantasy about judges lining up to replace the Constitution with Islamic law.

So the punchline is that anti-Islamic lawmakers are now in a bind. They can either push a narrow law targeting Islam, and have that law be struck down in the courts, or they can broaden the law, and wind up pushing something with spillover effects that will greatly annoy powerful interest groups.

Or, alternatively, they could simply abandon their anti-Islamic crusade altogether, and devote their attention solving problems that actually exist.


  1. It would be interesting to see how the Islamophobic Christian Right would respond if the same law was used to prohibit invocation of, say, The Ten Commandments or St. Paul’s version of Christian teaching — or anything else in Judeo-Christian scripture, all of which was established outside (and before) the United States.

  2. I really think the freaky right wing is about to implode. Americans seem to be taking a closer look at their absurdity. We can always hope, right?

  3. I think courts should take religion into thought of course, but to judge the entire proceeding on the religion might be to much. Also I think it most be by the consent of both sides. If one group, like a person wishing to leave the religion, doesn’t wish to be judged by the religious laws then they shouldn’t. Also I think State law and Federal Law should be put first, then religion.

  4. Maybe they push bills like this because of the religious exemptions they give to Catholics….it opens the door for other religions, including Islam to want to integrate their Religious doctrine into laws etc….

  5. Our 1st Amendment is freedom of religion…meaning none at all, whatever you want, and is not intended to interfere with the working of goverment…it isn’t even supposed to be brought up during political campaigns…so what the hell is wrong with all the people making such a big deal about religion…what you believe is your one else’s and if someone’s religious views are opposite what the state/federal has set in place, the religion takes a back seat…the law of the land is the rule…

  6. Thats why Sharia law will never be implemented in this country and I wish those that are spreading the fear that it will take over the country would just shut up.

  7. If America and its allies worked on getting jobs for its people and spreading love and peace as they do fear and hate maybe things would change for these morons.

  8. That’s why I am voting for Obama this year. The republicans have focused to much on religion. Seperation of Church and State. Yes Obama does believe in god, but he doesn’t say “This is what god wants the country to do” and Santorum is sexist.

  9. Bite me, Senator Fuckpig.

  10. Repub s has been brainwashed wit wicked soap

  11. These Right- Wing Republicans should practice good American pplitics and stop trying to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of Americans that are Muslims. God knows that I CAN’T STAND the beligerant blasphemy of anti-this and anti-that Catholics and Christians BUT I am an American and I am tolerant of it.

  12. Our legal system has a history of “freedom of contract,” allowing partiers to decide what law will govern their relationships.

    The “anti-sharia” law people are anti-freedom and liberty.

  13. How wonderful it is now dead! Stupid thing’s should be in this case..and it is stupid. It is called..”willful ignorance”..the Sharia is not here ..cannot be here..will not be here..anytime soon. It is alot of “blah blah blah”…

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