‘Sharia Law’ Laws

By: Steve Lehto

A legislator in Michigan has decided to jump on the anti-Sharia bandwagon and has proposed legislation to protect us from Sharia law. Tennessee has proposed such a law, and Oklahoma has passed one (although it was later struck down by a court and presumably will be tied up in the courts for a while). While this appears to be a trend, it is confounding.

First, here is Rep. Dave Agema, quoted in the Detroit News: “Our law is our law. I don’t like foreign entities telling us what to do.” His bill, he says, will prevent anyone “who tries to shove any foreign law down our throats.”

So, Agema is proposing a state law to keep “foreign entities” from “telling us what to do.” I presume he is being colloquial; who cares if they try and “tell us” what to do? We don’t have to listen, do we? Presumably, he is suggesting that there is some way that they can force us into doing something we don’t want to, unless there is a law preventing it. So he has proposed his bill, which will presumably protect us from this ominous threat.

Too bad he hasn’t read our Constitution. I’m not talking about the Constitution of the State of Michigan; I’m talking about the big kahuna: The Constitution of the United States. Article VI reads in part:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. [Emphasis added.]

Forgive my italicizing; the drafters of the Constitution didn’t feel the need to italicize the important parts of the document because they thought later generations would read it carefully for themselves.

So, what Dave Agema has missed — and the others who are trying to pass these stupid laws — is that when it comes to the law, the Constitution already trumps whatever a “foreign entity tell[s] us” to do. (See italicized portions above.)

Don’t get me wrong; I know that some people have heard of Sharia law being applied by parties willingly to their own disputes. That is, both sides to a dispute have decided to use Sharia law as a guide for settling their dispute. While you might not want it applied to your dispute, who cares how other people settle their disputes?

You may not know this, but across America everyday litigants choose to step outside the court system and let arbitrators decide their disputes for them. In these arbitrations, different rules are often applied. Rules of evidence are modified, juries are not used and appeals are barred. To a lawyer, those three things alone are enough to cause nightmares. Yet it is perfectly legal because the parties have agreed to resolve their dispute in that manner.

There have also been the oddball resolutions where parties have agreed to settle their disputes with a coin toss. Frankly, if I had to choose between Sharia law and a coin toss, I’d go with Sharia law. Does that mean we should outlaw the coin toss? Quick! Mr. Agema — I have another law I need you to work on!

The strange thing is that the law would be legally meaningless if passed. The Constitution is already the supreme law of the land; another legislative statement affirming the Constitution’s supremacy would not change or add anything. What is upsetting is that everyone knows these laws are simply being passed as anti-Muslim statements. After all, they serve no legitimate purpose.

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