MI Republicans Push to Pass Anti-Sharia Law

With the current two year session of the Michigan state legislature set to expire at the end of the year, and with it all submitted bills, the state House is set to take up HB 4769, which would prohibit the use of foreign or Sharia law if its use would violate the rights of any party in the case.

As these anti-Sharia bills go, this one isn’t all that bad. Unlike, say, the Oklahoma law, it does not forbid all consideration of foreign law by the courts, only the application of such laws when doing so would infringe on someone’s rights in this country.

Sec. 2. A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, mediation, or enforcement authority shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States.

Sec. 3. (1) If any contractual provision or agreement provides for the choice of a foreign law to govern its interpretation or the resolution of any dispute between the parties and if the enforcement or interpretation of the contractual provision or agreement would result in a violation of a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States, the contractual provision or agreement shall be applied as modified or amended to the extent necessary to preserve the constitutional rights of the parties.

This is hard to disagree with, of course, though there may be some difficulties in applying contract law in some specific situations. But it’s also entirely unnecessary, as the courts already do this. As I’ve detailed before, in that entirely fraudulent “study” on the alleged use of Sharia law by American courts, every one of the cases they cite already do exactly what this bill demands. And that’s true here in Michigan as well.

In one of the cases cited in that report, a Muslim couple from India had a fight over divorce after the husband declared the “triple talaq” divorce. His wife filed for divorce in court, arguing that the state should not recognize the Muslim divorce because it was based on the laws of another country that provided no rights to the woman. And guess what? The court agreed completely:

Plaintiff did not enjoy the basic rudiments of due process in the instant Indian divorce. Further, she was not represented by an attorney and had no right to be present at the pronouncement. The divorce provided no opportunity for a hearing on the merits and it was not overseen by a court of law…The Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Michigan Constitutions provide that no person shall be denied the equal protection of the law. If the state distinguishes between persons, the distinctions must not be “`arbitrary or invidious.’” Wives have no right to pronounce the talaq. This distinction is arbitrary and invidious. To accord comity to a system that denies equal protection would ignore the rights of citizens and persons under the protection of Michigan’s laws.

Yet the Islamophobic wingnuts bizarrely cite this case, and dozens more just like it, as evidence that the courts are now enforcing Sharia law when, in reality, they have consistently refused to do so. This all has nothing at all do with protecting anyone’s rights, it’s all about demonizing and scapegoating Muslims, to make people fear the ridiculous idea that they’re taking over America.

5 comments on this post.
  1. Ben P:

    But it’s also entirely unnecessary, as the courts already do this.

    True, but the way I read a statute like this is that it tweaks the balance of these arguments to some extent.

    In a normal case of this nature the argument is Party 1 telling the court “Party 2 agreed to this contract and I want you to enforce it according to the agreed terms,” and party 2 say “well, yes, I agreed to the contract, but I didn’t know what it was and you shouldn’t enforce it because it’s unfair.”

    Although specific facts will always make or break the argument, generally the “you signed a contract, I want to hold you to your agreement” has the stronger case here, even under foreign law. We place a lot of legal respect on enforcing agreements that have been voluntarily made.

    A statute like this tweaks the balance and allows the second party to say “you shouldn’t enforce this because it’s unfair, and the Michigan legislature has already said that if a contract tries to enforce Sharia law in a way that violates my rights, you shouldn’t do it,” which I think gives a defendant the upper hand.

  2. machintelligence:

    Perhaps it is a case of wearing both a belt and suspenders, but if you’re really worried about your pants* falling down…
    *Substitute trousers if speaking British English.

  3. Didaktylos:

    @2 – and substitute “braces” for “suspenders” …

  4. marcus:

    “How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders? The man can’t even trust his own pants.
    Henry Fonda as “Frank” in “Once Upon a Time in the West”.

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