Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of CAIR-Texas's Houston chapter, testified yesterday against anti-Islam bill SB 1639 that has been introduced in the state legislature. Rebeca Robertson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas also testified.
ACLU and CAIR testimony begins at 2:07:14 and ends at 2:16:14. View the video. Transcripts are below.
For background on this issue, see Details ofAnti-Islam Bills Introduced Nationwide and CAIR Releases CommunityToolkit to Challenge 'Anti-Sharia' Bills.
Rebeca Robertson, Legal and Policy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas:
I'm here today to testify in opposition to SB 1639. I want to begin by reassuring the Committee that there is no threat to our Texas legal system from foreign law. I have practiced law in this state for close to 20 years now and I can assure the Committee that most of these (cases)... are decided by wholly under domestic law. On the occasion of foreign law when it presents itself our courts already have a very effective and well-established methodology for deciding whether the local rule or the foreign rule should apply, and that methodology includes the requirements that if the foreign law conflicts with our Texas values, conflicts with our Constitution, our public policy that local law is supreme. So, it's just not necessary to take additional steps and layer on more legislation to something that's already working. I've attached to my written testimony and appendix of Texas cases fighting foreign law and I did that to give reassurance so you can see how Texas judges are already doing a good job when they have to deal with foreign law, including in family law cases.
I also wanted to bring the Committee's attention the recent report of the American Bar Association, which is in strong opposition to foreign law bans because the report that I cited points out the numerous constitutional concerns that these kinds of legislation raise. Under the Supremacy Clause, the Full Faith in Credit Clause, the Freedom to Contract Clause, and for our purposes at the ACLU the First Amendment. We are certainly concerned that the extent of these laws certainly impact people of a particular faith that is wholly inconsistent with our most cherished liberty, the very first one in the Bill of Rights and that it the right to worship according to our own conscience without interference from the government. Finally, I want to urge the Committee not to create uncertainty for Texas families. I know that your purview is Business and Commerce, but all of us know somebody who – a mom who travels to China to adopt an orphan child or a husband who was born and raised oversees, and then moved to Texas to build a better life for his family, or for that matter people who were born and raised here in Texas but went to Mexico or Canada to get married because that is a fun destination. We all know people like that, and there's just no reason given that our courts are already doing a good job with foreign law to layer on something additional that will create uncertainty for these people.
I want to leave you with this thought. SB 1639 carves out exceptions for Texas corporations and for business transactions because our business community has stepped up to say, "We don't want any part of foreign law bans." If this is not appropriate to impose on Texas corporations, it's not okay appropriate impose on Texas families either. Thank you.
Mustafaa Carroll, Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Texas:
Thank you all for having us (again) and I hope to bring some clarity to this issue because the underpinnings of it is about an Anti-Sharia ban. This is not about an anti-foreign law and I've asked for clarification on that on several occasions. Are we talking about Peru, are we talking about Canada or are we talking about Mexico? No, none of this is the issue.
The issue is on the misunderstanding the people have about Sharia.
First of all, Sharia is not a codified set of laws and if you look at any country they all practice it different. Throwing acid in women's faces, we deplore immensely, mistreatment of women, subjugation of women, etc people in our community do deplore this and these acts are criminal as far as we're concerned. The thought that someone would bring another law to our country saying that it's going to subvert the American Constitution which has stood strong for the last 200 some odd years is ludicrous, that there is no threat of another law coming in to this country. There is no one coming from our community, there is no one advocating for a different law in this country, there is no insinuation.
In fact, most of the people in the Muslim community, and I'm saying "Muslim" because that what I'm hearing. Most of the people in the Muslim community come here seeking the same freedom that this country provides and many of them are quite satisfied with the laws as they stand and would not go back to their own lands where they were persecuted or where they left because of political reasons or what have you. So that's a non-issue. I myself, I'm born and raised in this country, I've been married for 36 years, I have 4 children and 4 grandchildren and I have a granddaughter and a wife and is not subjugated to any of this stuff.
So, when we hear this, this bill was previously here in Texas, this Anti-Sharia it was implemented by Representative Berman and it went on and so now it's come back in the form of foreign law. Sharia has nothing to do with law, it's the underpinnings of our religion. It's is the same as it would be the 10 Commandments, you don't have that written into law either. But, it may serve as the underpinnings for how you do things. So we implore you not to pass this bill because, we believe in our Constitution. We believe in the State of Texas, the laws that are on the books, that protect the Constitution and it's not Anti-American law.
It is not against, nor are we trying to subvert the American Constitution so those persons who stated we are not trying to subvert the country that I love have been here all of my life is just absolutely untrue. I thank all you for having us here today.