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Our Opinion: Sharia, chimera in U.S. courts

Every legislative session brings a proposal in search of a press conference.

A contender this year is proposed legislation to prohibit Missouri courts from applying laws from foreign countries, including those based on Sharia.

Sharia is the sacred law of Islam. State Rep. Don Wells, R-Cabool, contends the ban is necessary because the Islamic law is spreading and could threaten Missouri.

A bill by state Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, offers a broader approach to ban Missouri courts from applying all foreign laws.

The proposed ban is largely a chimera, or foolish fantasy. The word derives from a creature in Greek mythology, the Chimera, composed of an absurd assortment of multiple animals.

We do not share the representatives’ fears that Sharia will be applied in U.S. courts because we see no credible threat.

Consider:

• We know of no circumstances where a U.S. court ruling in a civil or criminal case was based on foreign laws.

• In the United States, judges at every level swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the U.S., and Missouri judges’ oaths also include the state Constitution.

• Sharia is a religious law, not a governmental one. Although Sharia deals with some secular topics, it derives largely from the Quran, the religious text of Islam.

We believe a court ruling based on religious law — if it were to occur in the U.S. — would be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.

The amendment begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ...”

If legislative branches are prohibited from making religious laws, it follows that judicial branches may not issue rulings based on religious laws.

The representatives may have generated some publicity with their proposals. But mostly they are inciting needless fears by creating a chimera.

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