Texas Rep. Berman files resolution to ban ‘religious or cultural law’

Posted on: January 12th, 2011 by Mary Tuma 9 Comments

Mimicking proposed legislation in several other states, Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) suggested a constitutional amendment prohibiting Texas courts from enforcing, considering or applying religious or cultural law. Though the joint resolution itself does not specify ‘Sharia Law’ ­­­– the practices governing Muslim life, including family, work and religion – it falls under the umbrella of banned rules.

“A lot of federal courts are referring to international courts and laws of other countries. We want to make sure our courts are not doing this, especially in regards to cultural laws,” Berman said. “If that includes Sharia law, then so be it.”

Ibrahim Hooper, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a D.C.-based civil rights advocacy group, says the resolution and similar legislation being proposed in Indiana are violations of First Amendment rights and are essentially hypocritical.

“Based on the proposal, he obviously must be against the Ten Commandments,” Hooper half-joked.

Births, deaths, wills and marriages that include a person’s faith would be null and void, including references to Jewish law in a marriage contract or specifying to be buried in a Catholic cemetery in a will, under the resolution’s logic, Hooper said.

While Oklahoma citizens approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting state courts from considering international law or Islamic law during case decisions, a federal judge struck down the referendum after a lawsuit backfired, calling the amendment an infringement on the U.S Bill of Rights. (via Associated Press)

“What we are seeing is those that are trying to enact laws targeting the American Muslim community’s constitutional rights realize they are not going to pass legal muster,” Hooper said. “So they are finding backdoor, roundabout ways to accomplish the same thing.”

Berman is the author of several controversial bills this legislative session, including an Arizona-style immigration bill as well as a “birther” bill, requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to submit their original birth certificates to the Texas Secretary of State.

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