A bill designed to prevent Kansas courts or government agencies from making decisions based on Islamic or other foreign legal codes has cleared the state Legislature after a contentious debate about whether the measure upholds American values or appeals to prejudice against Muslims.
The Senate approved the bill Friday on a 33-3 vote. The House had approved it, 120-0, earlier in the week. The measure goes next to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who hasn’t said whether he’ll sign or veto the measure.
The measure doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law, which broadly refers to codes within the Islamic legal system. Instead, it says that courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.
But several supporters specifically cited the potential use of Shariah law in Kansas as their concern. Sen. Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, said a vote for the legislation is a vote to protect women. “In this great country of ours and in the state of Kansas, women have equal rights,” Wagle said during the Senate’s debate. “They stone women to death in countries that have Shariah law.”
Update: See also Faiz Shakir, “Kansas legislature passes discriminatory anti-Muslim bill by calling it a ‘women’s rights’ issue”, Think Progress, 13 May 2012
Update 2: See “Kansas governor asked not to sign anti-Sharia bill”, CAIR press release, 15 May 2012