A solution in search of a problem

A SOLUTION IN SEARCH OF A PROBLEM…. As if Oklahoma’s efforts weren’t quite ridiculous enough, the madness is spreading.

Lawmakers in South Carolina have introduced a bill that would “prevent a court or other enforcement authority from enforcing foreign law in this state.” This effectively makes South Carolina the latest state to consider legislation that would ban sharia law, though one of the bill’s sponsors insists it’s more than that.

“This bill has been called anti-sharia law, and I suppose it does deal with that,” State Sen. Michael Fair (R-Greenville), who introduced the bill in the Senate, told TPM in an interview. “There are some localities around the country that have imposed sharia law in lieu of local laws.”

Um, no. He’s making that up. There isn’t a single location in the United States in which sharia law has been imposed in lieu of local laws. It’s simply never happened.

Indeed, generally right-wing proponents of this nonsense don’t go quite this far. When activists in Oklahoma successfully pushed an “anti-sharia” ballot measure, proponents said it was a “preemptive strike” against a problem that may someday arise. Of course, “preemptive strike” was little more than a euphemism for “threat that does not exist.”

But the responses to the imaginary problem keep spreading anyway. In addition to Oklahoma and South Carolina, we’re finding similar efforts underway in Wyoming, too.

State Rep. Gerald Gay (R) is proposing a similar ballot measure that would prevent judges from using sharia, or Islamic, law in their decisions. Like the Oklahoma measure, it would also block “international” law — which could cause unseen effects for Wyoming’s American Indian population.

And, again like in Oklahoma, Gay admits that sharia has not been a problem in his state. Echoing the works of Okla. State Rep. Rex Duncan (R), he calls it a “pre-emptive strike.” He told the Billings Gazette that he doesn’t want judges using Islamic tenets in cases involving honor killings or arranged marriages.

Keep in mind, the number of court rulings in Wyoming in which sharia law was applied is zero.

And that’s not because Wyoming is unique — it’s because we already have a law that prohibits U.S. officials from imposing religious rules on Americans through legislation or court orders. It’s called the First Amendment.