SHARIAsource editor Will Smiley shares in the Washington Post his expertise on the motives of new anti-sharia legislation in some states.
Marcelo, Philip. “On Muslims’ agenda: Fight anti-Sharia proposals in US states.” Washington Post, March 27, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/on-muslims-agenda-fight-us-proposals-to-ban-sharia-law/2017/03/27/430e4378-12fc-11e7-bb16-269934184168_story.html?utm_term=.42a6665938f4.
“Sharia should be very concerning to all of us,” said state Rep. Heidi Sampson, a Maine Republican who has proposed legislation. “It is a way of life and a legal code which is designed to impinge on culture, family life, marriage, equality of the sexes — a whole host of areas.”
Sampson and other lawmakers say a 2010 New Jersey case highlighted prominently in the report is particularly troubling.
A Muslim woman accused her husband of sexual abuse and sought a restraining order in 2009, but the judge denied the request after the husband argued, in part, that a wife must comply with her husband’s sexual demands in Islamic custom. An appeals court ultimately overturned the ruling.
But Will Smiley, an editor at the Harvard Law School’s SHARIAsource, an online collection of academic writings on Islamic law, is skeptical the bills proposed by lawmakers would have made a difference in the initial ruling.
“These new laws don’t provide any new safeguards,” Smiley said. “Courts can still make mistakes, like most observers agree that New Jersey court did.”
Many of the other cases cited in the center’s report don’t appear to show evidence that U.S. courts based decisions on Sharia or other foreign codes, said Jay Wexler, a professor at Boston University’s School of Law who specializes in separation of church and state issues.
“The facts of a case might require a court to consider in some way a foreign custom or law,” he said. “But that does not mean that the court is applying foreign law.”
Supporters stress the proposals would affect all religious codes and foreign laws equally.