Kansas State Senators Flooded With Out-Of-State Anti-Sharia Emails
More than twenty state legislatures are considering bills that ostensibly prohibit judges from following foreign law, but which are actually part of a nationwide Islamophobic campaign to combat thenonexistent problem of American courts relying on Sharia law. As the Topeka Capital-Journal explains, however, this effort has been much less effective in convincing Kansas lawmakers’ actual constituents to support an anti-Muslim bill than it has been in simply harassing those lawmakers with out-of-state emails:
“I had a large number of emails — like in the thousands — during the last couple weeks of session (before the current break),” said Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence.
King said he had to instruct his assistant to funnel them into a separate folder and further separate the emails that actually came from his constituents, which he said narrowed the number to “dozens.”
Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, recently said his inbox also was full of anti-Sharia emails, most of them from out-of-state.
It’s really no surprise that there aren’t many actual Kansans worried about the threat of creeping Sharia. As ThinkProgress previously explained, a judge is about as likely to replace American law with “the laws of ancient Rome or the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons second edition rules” as they are to suddenly decide to embrace Sharia law.
Yet, while the anti-Sharia bills being pushed by national Islamophobes are completely unnecessary, that does not mean that they are harmless. Initially, anti-Muslim activists pushed bills and ballot initiatives that expressly forbade the courts from applying Islamic law in any circumstance. This kind of law is unambiguously unconstitutional, and it fared poorly in federal court. So the latest round of anti-Sharia bills have removed expressed references to Sharia or Islam, and they have expanded their scope to include bans on other foreign law.
These bans, however, can have serious consequences for a state’s businesses and for non-Muslim residents. Businesses frequently contract with foreign companies to resolve their disputes according to foreign law, which is why business groups came out against a Virginia anti-Sharia bill to prevent it from hurting their ability to do business overseas. Similarly, a Florida anti-Sharia bill’s overbroad language likely would have prevented Florida courts from enforcing many Orthodox Jewish divorces.
And for all the anti-Muslim lobby’s effort’s to save their pet bills from unconstitutionality by not being entirely candid about what these bills are intended to accomplish, their efforts are likely to amount to nothing. As the Supreme Court held in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah, the Constitution forbids laws that “regulate or prohibit conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons” — even if the law banning religious conduct is written without referencing a particular faith.