WHYY’s Tom MacDonald reported on opposition to a bill in the Pennsylvania House that would ban state courts from recognizing foreign laws that impair constitutional rights. Is this bill even necessary?
WHYY’s Tom MacDonald reported yesterday on backlash from Muslim activists against a bill in the Pennsylvania House (2029) that seeks to prohibit the application of foreign laws that would impair constitutional rights.
Opponents say the bill specifically targets the practice of Sharia law—a set of guidelines for all aspects of Muslim life derived primarily from the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed—and would block freedom of religious expression.
The state representative who wrote the bill, Rosemarie Swanger of Lebanon County, says it is designed to preserve liberties in the United States that do not exist in some foreign legal systems.
Sharia’s influence is controversial to Western sensibilities, because some interpretations are used to justify unfair treatment of women and the administration of cruel corporal and capital punishments.
Swanger fears that recognizing foreign laws could allow women to be mistreated, and says that Sharia is “inherently hostile to our constitutional liberties.”
But NewsWorks reader Richard Joye says that’s why we have the Supreme Court. He writes, “If it is a practice in the United States, it should meet our constitution and if it complies with The United States Constitution, there should be no fear of infractions of the First Amendment.”
So, is this bill even necessary? Is it a case of U.S. lawmakers making the Muslim community its whipping boys?
And if it does pass, would it really discriminate against Muslims, or would it just uphold the U.S. Constitution in favor of foreign laws—which is what our lawmakers are charged to do anyway?