(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/17/15) -- The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on South Carolinians who value constitutional freedom and civil liberties to contact leaders in that state's general assembly to ask for an immediate stop to the consideration of an unconstitutional, anti-Muslim bill. The bill's sponsors admit it is designed to attack the religious principles of Islam.
TAKE ACTION: Contact the two South Carolina General Assembly leaders below and ask that they drop consideration of the unconstitutional, anti-Muslim bill:
CALL: State House Speaker James H. "Jay" Lucas (R) at (803) 734-3125
CALL: Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Greg Delleney (R) at (803) 734-3120
Suggested talking point: "As a voter in South Carolina, I'm calling to ask that you stop consideration of House Resolution 3521 because it's unconstitutional. Even the bill's sponsors admit it's intended to attack the religious principles of Islam. A similar amendment in Oklahoma was ultimately struck down in federal court because it violated the U.S. Constitution."
Sponsored by State Representative Chip Limehouse (R-Charleston), House Resolution 3521 seeks to "prevent a court or other enforcement authority from enforcing foreign law, including but not limited to, Sharia Law in the state. ..."
State Representative Greg Delleney (R-Chester), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says he expects that committee will approve the bill later today and refer it to the state's general assembly for adoption.
CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw said in a statement:
"Targeting members of one faith for unequal treatment under the law undermines the First Amendment. As a civil liberties organization, we cannot stand by while legislators alter the law of the land to allow discrimination against members of one religion.
"Bills like this one are unnecessary because the Constitution already prevents foreign or religious law from overriding U.S. law. But because of its sweeping language, H. 3521 would impact aspects of Muslims' daily lives. Things like a will, business contract, or marriage contract based on Islamic principles could become invalid under this biased and unconstitutional law.
"As a presumably unintended consequence, if South Carolina adopts this bill as law it would also bar any state court from considering of Catholic Canon law and Jewish Halacha law, which are also considered by many courts to be a type of foreign law."
According to the South Carolina Post and Courier, Limehouse cited the Center for Security Policy as a source of the legislation. In 2010, the FBI stated that Center for Security Policy research is based on "outdated information" and "overstated" any threat Muslim observances pose to America.
The Center for Security Policy's founder and president, Frank Gaffney, was also referred to by Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball as "one of the country's leading anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists." Gaffney's conspiracy theories regarding Muslim infiltration of all aspects of American life are so overblown that he was banned from attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011 after accusing its top leadership of being infiltrated by Islamists.
H. 3521 is similar to an Oklahoma anti-Sharia constitutional amendment introduced in 2010, which was ultimately struck down in federal court because it violated the U.S. Constitution. Deciding in favor of a CAIR lawsuit challenging the amendment, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled that "that the references to Sharia Law violated the Establishment Clause."
In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing legislation like H. 3521, noting that it is "duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law," saying, "Initiatives that target an entire religion or stigmatize an entire religious community, such as those explicitly aimed at 'Sharia law,' are inconsistent with some of the core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-488-8787, 202-742-6448, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857, email@example.com