An Alaskan lawmaker hopes to guard against Islamic Sharia law by prohibiting state courts from honoring foreign law that violates Alaskan or U.S. constitutional rights.
Though the bill’s language does not specifically target Sharia, Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, said the legislation is a reaction to what he sees as the growing use of international law codes in courts that have robbed people of their constitutional rights.
In a hearing before the House State Affairs Committee, Gatto’s chief of staff Karen Sawyer said Sharia is an example of the type of transnational law that has appeared in family law, divorce and child custody cases nationally, though she knows of instances of it appearing in Alaska courts.
“Sharia is clearly offensive to the U.S. Constitution,” Sawyer said. “It is the foremost foreign law that is impacting our legal system.” Sawyer added that countries following Sharia law do not allow freedom of religion or equal rights to women.
Gatto called the law a preventative measure necessitated by the religious beliefs of recent immigrants. “As a kid, we had Italian neighborhoods, Irish neighborhoods … but they didn’t impose their own laws,” Gatto said. “When these neighborhoods are occupied by people from the Middle East, they do establish their own laws.”
See also “Alaska lawmaker smears American Muslims”, CAIR press release, 18 March 2011