It’s been another proud week for Montana Republicans, who have spent the past few days not introducing real bills to ensure access to health care for 70,000 Montanans, but in efforts to impose bans on yoga pants and the implementation of “foreign” law.
The news getting the most attention, of course, was Representative David Moore’s effort to end the scourge of yoga pants. ABC News, Christian Science Monitor, Fox News, The Atlantic, Time, the Daily Mail, and the The Hindu were among the thousands of media outlets who have used the bill to mock the state of Montana and its puritanical Republican Party.
In a bill no less absurd, but perhaps more serious, Senator Janna Taylor strapped on her tinfoil hat and nearly passed a bill out of committee that would have banned the “application of foreign law” in Montana courts. While the bill does not specify that is is targeting Islamic law, Taylor’s intention was clear: to prevent Montana justice of the peace from applying sharia law to resolve traffic violations—something that CERTAINLY must be happening almost every day in Montana right now. She told the Daily Interlake just how serious this problem is:
Taylor said that while the bill’s language is broad, she was motivated by an estimated 50 cases in U.S. courts referring to Sharia law, the Islamic legal code.
“I had a large group of constituents that were pretty worried about the instances of Sharia law being used by American judges,” she said. The bill is modeled on the “American Laws for American Courts” template that she said has been introduced in several other states. “Most of [the cases] were against women and children. In Sharia law there is no custody; all the children belong to the father.”
An actual legal scholar, Eugene Volokh, explains that the occasional reliance on foreign law in American courts reflects the reality of an increasingly connected world in which people move across borders, marry in other countries, and need to pursue legal charges domestically for events that took place overseas:
There’s no grand or controversial issue of multiculturalism involved here. It’s just our legal system’s normal accommodation to the longstanding reality that people come to America from all over the world. Our system provides the same accommodation to people from Britain, Poland, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
In some situations, this accommodation indirectly requires the application of sharia, but it provides no greater deference to sharia than it would to the application of any country’s law.
While Ms. Taylor sees herself as a great defender of American liberties, her bill (which remains alive in committee) represents the opposite. Based on absurd conspiracy theories about the dangers of Islam stoked in hate-filled online communities, it is nothing more than religious discrimination cloaked in the defense of liberties.
Despite the facts that there has never been the application of Sharia law in Montana, that the bill is nothing more than conspiracy nonsense, and that it’s little more than an effort to legally embed bigotry, the Senate Judiciary voted 6-6 on the bill and could bring it back for consideration again. Consider contacting them to let them know that Montana Republicans have already done enough to bring shame to the state already.