Alabama Foreign Laws in Court, Amendment 1 (2014)

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Amendment 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Alabama Constitution
Referred by:Alabama State Legislature
Topic:State Judiciary
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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July 15
Amendment 1 Approveda
November 4
Amendment 1
Amendment 2
Amendment 3
Amendment 4
Amendment 5
EndorsementsFull text
Polls
The Alabama Foreign Laws in Court, Amendment 1 is on the November 4, 2014, ballot in Alabama as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. If approved, this amendment would prevent Alabama courts from recognizing foreign and other laws that violate either Alabama's public policy or the rights of the state's citizens. It was primarily sponsored in the Alabama Legislature by Sen. Gerald Allen (R-21), where it was known as Senate Bill 4.[1][2]

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot title of this measure appears as follows:[3]

Statewide Amendment 1

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit the State of Alabama from giving full faith and credit to public acts, records, or judicial proceedings of another state that violate the public policy of the State of Alabama and to prohibit the application of foreign law in violation of rights guaranteed natural citizens by the United States and Alabama Constitutions, and the statutes, laws, and public policy thereof, but without application to business entities. (Proposed by Act 2013-269)

Yes ( )
No ( )
[4]

Ballot summary

The full ballot summary reads as follows:[5]

Amendment 1 proposes to add “the American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment” to the State Constitution. Amendment 1 would prohibit courts and other legal authorities from applying foreign law if doing so would violate rights guaranteed to citizens of Alabama. This Amendment does not apply to the laws of other states but applies only to “any law, rule, or legal code or system used outside of the United States or by any other people, group or culture different from the people of the United States or the State of Alabama.”

Amendment 1 would apply to contracts by individual citizens, but would not apply to business entities or to persons who willingly choose to give up the rights protected by this Amendment.

If Amendment1 IS PASSED, Alabama will have in place a Constitutional provision that says Alabama citizens will not be subject to foreign law if application of the foreign law would violate Alabama law or result in a violation of their rights.

If Amendment1 IS DEFEATED, courts and legal authorities may choose to refuse to apply foreign law if the foreign law would result in a violation of Alabama law and/or deprive a citizen of his or her rights, even though there is no statute or Constitutional Amendment requiring them to do so.

There is no cost for this Constitutional Amendment.

The measure will have no impact on taxes.

The Constitutional authority for passage of this Amendment is set forth in Sections 284, 285, and 287 of the State Constitution. These sections outline the way a constitutional amendment may be put to the people of the State for a vote. [4]

Constitutional changes

See also: Alabama Foreign Laws in Court, Amendment 1 (2014), constitutional text changes

If approved, SB 4 would add an amendment to the Alabama Constitution with nine sections.

Background

During the 2011 state legislative session, Sen. Gerald Allen proposed the Alabama "Sharia Law Amendment," which did not make the November 2012 ballot. This measure sought to prohibit state courts from implementing Islamic Sharia law when making judicial decisions. In the current SB 4, Sen. Allen does not use any language that specifically refers to Sharia law.[1]

OK 2010 measure

Oklahoma became the first state to attempt to keep international or other non-state or federal laws in court decisions in 2010 with State Question 755. On January 10, 2012, the 10th Circuit Court Of Appeals struck down the measure, stating that the proposal violated the United States Constitution. Despite being approved by the voters, an injunction on the measure plus the final overturn prevented the law from taking effect.[6]

Sharia law

Sharia refers to codes of practices that some, but not all, Muslims follow. According to the Council on Foreign Relations,

[Sharia] guides all aspects of Muslim life, including daily routines, familial and religious obligations, and financial dealings. It is derived primarily from the Quran and the Sunna—the sayings, practices, and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. Precedents and analogy applied by Muslim scholars are used to address new issues. The consensus of the Muslim community also plays a role in defining this theological manual.[4]

—Council on Foreign Relations, [7]

Sharia was developed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam whose revelations are recorded in the Qur'an, Islam's holy scripture. In an attempt to emulate the life of the prophet, followers tried to replicate his lifestyle and practices as much as possible. The collection of the oral traditions regarding Muhammad's life and behavior is known as the hadith. What exactly this looked like varied as different schools of Islam developed with distinct practices. Sharia also developed differently in these places as each group placed differing value and weight on parts of the Qur'an, hadith, religious scholars and communal agreement. [7][8]

While several countries have incorporated aspects of one or more schools of thought regarding sharia, individual adherents do not usually stick to one school in regards to their personal lives.[7]

For more information about sharia, its role in the governments of foreign countries and more, please see the additional reading section.

Support

Sen. Allen was the primary sponsor of SB 4.

Supporters

Officials

The following members of the Alabama Legislature voted in favor of SB 4:[9][10]

Organizations

  • Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)[11]

Opposition

Opponents

Officials

The following members of the Alabama Legislature voted against SB 4:[9][10]

Individuals

  • Rev. Richard L. Killmer

Arguments

In a guest column on AL.com, Rev. Richard L. Killmer alleged that the intent of this amendment is the same as the one Sen. Allen proposed in 2011, which was to ban Sharia Law. However, Rev. Killmer argues that such a law is unnecessary due to the fact that the, "U.S. Constitution already states that U.S. law takes precedence over any foreign law, including the unspoken target of this amendment, Shariah or Islamic law." He further alleged that SB 4 is simply looking for way to discriminate against Muslims. He stated,[12]

So why is this happening? Some people have decided to harass Muslims and are finding ways to discriminate against them. Unless the American public, including the people of Alabama, takes a stand, the injustices of yesterday will unfold again before our eyes. [...] The sovereignty of the U.S. judicial system will not be undermined by imaginary support for Shariah law, but there is a risk that it will be undermined by legislation that discriminates.[4]

—Rev. Richard L. Killmer, [13]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Alabama Constitution
Alabama Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVIIXVIII
Amendments

According to Article 18 of the Alabama Constitution, both houses of the Alabama State Legislature were required to pass the bill by a three-fifths or 60 percent vote, in order to send it to the statewide election ballot. If the amendment is approved by a simple majority of the electorate, it will become part of the constitution.

SB 4 was read for the first time in the Senate and referred to the Judiciary Committee on February 5, 2013. On March 20, 2013, the measure passed the Senate by a vote of 22 to 6. The House approved the amendment two months later on May 20, 2013, by a vote of 75 to 6.[14] The House heard no arguments on the measure prior to its passage.[15]

Senate vote

March 20, 2013 Senate vote

Alabama SB 4 Senate vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 22 78.57%
No621.43%

House vote

May 20, 2013 House vote

Alabama SB 4 House vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 75 92.59%
No67.41%

Similar measures

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

Additional reading

Sharia links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 APR.org, "Ballot Question Could Add Foreign Law Protections," May 21, 2013
  2. Freedom Legislation Forum, "Ballot Measure: Alabama to ban use of foreign law in state courts," May 23, 2013
  3. Alabama Secretary of State, "PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO APPEAR ON THE BALLOT STATEWIDE," accessed September 8, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Alabama State Legislature Fair Ballot Commission, "2013-2014 Statewide Constitutional Amendments Ballot Statements," accessed September 8, 2014
  6. Think Progress, "BREAKING: 10th Circuit Court Of Appeals Declares Oklahoma’s Sharia Ban Unconstitutional," January 10, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Council on Foreign Relations, "Backgrounders: Islam: Governing Under Sharia," July 25, 2014
  8. BBC, "Religions: Sharia," September 3, 2009
  9. 9.0 9.1 OpenStates.org, "Alabama House Vote on SB 4 (May 20, 2013)," accessed August 7, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 OpenStates.org, "Alabama Senate Vote on SB 4 (Mar 20, 2013)," accessed August 7, 2014
  11. HSLDA, "Senate Bill 4: Prohibits the Application of Foreign Law in Violation of Citizens' Constitutional Rights," accessed July 11, 2014
  12. AL.com, "Proposed amendment banning "foreign law" is really an effort to harass Muslims (Guest column)," June 17, 2013
  13. AL.com, "Proposed amendment banning "foreign law" is really an effort to harass Muslims (Guest column)," June 17, 2013
  14. Open States, "Alabama 2013 Regular Session SB4," accessed July 11, 2014
  15. Associated Press, "Ballot Question Could Add Foreign Law Protections," May 21, 2013