BOISE, Idaho – Republican leaders agreed Wednesday to introduce legislation designed to keep Shariah law and other foreign codes out of Idaho courts or government agencies.
The proposal doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law–
derived of the Quran and rulings and sayings by the Prophet Muhammad. But it does say courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.
To date, there are no known cases in which an Idaho judge has based a ruling on Islamic law.
Bill sponsor Rep. Eric Redman, a Republican from Athol who is up for re-election in May, says the bill is needed to protect American values.
“This bill isn’t just about Shariah law, but Shariah law is a major concern,” he said.
Pictures of a severed hand and a man about to be beheaded were included in the information packet Redman distributed to legislative leaders considering the proposal. The pictures were pasted in between definitions of Shariah law and accusing the Prophet Muhammad of being a pedophile.
Fears over Sharia law and Muslim culture have been a growing theme in Idaho, starting with a former Muslim turned Christian pastor who met with a dozen lawmakers in the Idaho Capitol last year to call for limiting Islamic immigration and blocking refugees from settling in the state. A few months later, lawmakers were forced to gather for a special legislative session to pass state laws to comply with federal regulations after a handful of legislators warned child support laws were connected to Shariah law.
Meanwhile, a Twin Falls refugee resettlement center has come under fire from critics arguing that it should be shut down because of fears the refugees would be radicalized Muslims, terrorists in disguise.
Majority Leader Mike Moyle, Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, Majority Caucus Chair John Vander Woude and Chairwoman Christy Perry, who all sit on the House Ways and Means Committee, all voted in favor of the bill with no discussion. The panel’s three Democratic members opposed the measure.
The bill’s introduction doesn’t automatically imply the proposal will pass in the Republican-dominated Statehouse. It still must be directed to a legislative panel for a hearing. If it gets that far — barring any intervention from a chairman or leadership — the legislation will likely pass.
House Minority Leader John Rusche particularly objected to giving the bill a hearing even if it ends up going nowhere in the Statehouse. He argued that several members inside his minority caucus have been denied being considered even though they are not as extreme.
The Idaho Attorney General’s office did not find any obvious federal or state constitutional violations, but their legal review did caution against keeping the bill so broadly written.
“We strongly recommend that you give careful consideration to the draft legislation’s potential effect given the breadth of its ‘right guaranteed’ language and the variety of legal systems and substantive law in other nations,” wrote Brian Kane, assistant chief deputy with the attorney general’s office.
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