PORTLAND, Ore, (KOIN) — A repeat bill being considered by the Oregon Legislature seeks to ban courts in Oregon from using Sharia law to make judicial decisions.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Sharia as:
“Islamic canonical law based on the teachings of the Koran and the traditions of the Prophet (Hadith and Sunna), prescribing both religious and secular duties and sometimes retributive penalties for lawbreaking. It has generally been supplemented by legislation adapted to the conditions of the day, though the manner in which it should be applied in modern states is a subject of dispute between Muslim traditionalists and reformists.”
Since being filed, SB 479 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary where it still remains as of Sunday, according to legislative records.
Boquist filed the exact same legislation in 2015 with Senate Bill 176. Word for word, both laws are identical. That bill never made it out of committee.
In 2015, the senator told Oregonian/OregonLive SB 176 was written on behalf of a constituent. That wasn’t the only time he’s sponsored legislation on behalf of constituents. In April 2015, the state senator was contacted by a high school student about a gun safety bill she crafted. Her language eventually became SB 170, another bill introduced by Boquist.
Oregon is not the first state to consider a ban on Sharia law in courts. Governing magazine reports 34 states have at least considered similar legislation. Of those 34, Alabama, North Carolina, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota and Tennessee passed laws preventing Sharia law in courts.
When Oklahoma voters passed a ban on Sharia law in courts with 70% support in 2010, it was eventually struck down by a federal judge. Oklahoma Muslims feared courts wouldn’t be able to adjudicate Islamic marriages, contracts and wills.
The Missouri Legislature passed an anti-Sharia law in 2013, but then Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed it, saying the bill wasn’t necessary and only caused problems.
As other states have dealt with similar legislation, it has caused them to question whether a ban on Sharia law conflicts with the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.