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Alabama Foreign Laws in Court Amendment, SB4 (2014)

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Alabama American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Alabama Constitution
Referred by:Alabama State Legislature
Topic:Federal constitutional issues
Status:On the ballot
The Alabama American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment, SB 4 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Alabama as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. If approved, this amendment will 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 language will appear on the ballot as:[3]

"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 ________."

"Yes ( ) No ( )." [4]

Constitutional changes

See also: Alabama Foreign Laws in Court Amendment, SB4 (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.[5]

Support

Supporters

Opposition

Opponents

  • 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,

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, [7]

Path to the ballot

2014 measures
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July 15
Amendment 1
November 4
Foreign Laws in Court
Education Expenditure Increases
Franklin Co. Public Utilities
EndorsementsFull text
See also: Amending the Alabama Constitution

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.[8] The House heard no arguments on the measure prior to its passage.[9]

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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References