WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the South Carolina General Assembly to drop an unconstitutional, anti-Islam bill (H. 3521) currently moving through that body because it violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The bill's sponsors, and the text of the legislation, make clear it is designed to attack the religious principles of Islam, or "sharia."
The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Chip Limehouse, came one step closer to becoming law after it passed 68-42 in the South Carolina House of Representatives yesterday. H. 3521 seeks "to prevent a court or other enforcement authority from enforcing foreign law including, but not limited to, sharia law in this state from a forum outside of the United States or its territories under certain circumstances."
Even the bill's sponsors admit that there are no known cases of attorneys in South Carolina attempting to use international law or sharia law in that state's courts.
SEE: House Advances Bill Forbidding Sharia Law as Defense in State Court
Text of H. 3521
H. 3521 is one of many so-called "foreign law" bills introduced in state legislatures nationwide in a coordinated campaign to demonize Islam and to marginalize American Muslims. In 2015, more than 30 pieces of such legislation were introduced in 17 states.
SEE: Bans on Court Use of Sharia/International Law
In a letter sent today to South Carolina Senate Majority Leader Harvey S. Peeler, Jr., Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Larry A. Martin and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, CAIR Senior Staff Attorney William Burgess wrote in part:
"I write to inform you that H. 3521, adopted yesterday by the South Carolina House of Representatives, and currently pending before the South Carolina Senate, would – if passed - be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. . .
"This legislation is very similar to the Oklahoma anti-Sharia constitutional amendment that was struck down as a violation of the Establishment Clause in a federal court challenge brought by CAIR.
Deciding in favor of CAIR's lawsuit challenging the amendment, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled that 'the references to Sharia Law violated the Establishment Clause.' Should this legislation become law, I expect that it would meet the same fate.
"As with the Oklahoma amendment, H. 3521 would send the unconstitutional message that Islam is an officially disfavored religion in the State of South Carolina. This would be in clear violation of the First Amendment's command that government remain neutral in matters of religion."
In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing legislation like H. 3521, noting that it is "duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law," saying, "Initiatives that target an entire religion or stigmatize an entire religious community, such as those explicitly aimed at 'Sharia law,' are inconsistent with some of the core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence."
CAIR noted that the bill's sponsor has cited the Center for Security Policy (CSP) as a source of the legislation. In 2010, the FBI stated that CSP research is based on "outdated information" and "overstated" any threat Muslim observances pose to America.
SEE: Bill Aims to Keep Sharia Law From Making Inroads in South Carolina
CSP's founder and president, Frank Gaffney, was also referred to by Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball as "one of the country's leading anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists." Gaffney's conspiracy theories regarding Muslim infiltration of all aspects of American life are so overblown that he was banned from attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011 after accusing its top leadership of being infiltrated by Islamists.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)