According to WRAL, the bill to block the application of foreign law in North Carolina courts, H695, is headed to the House floor with compromised language, following a contentious fight in the Judiciary Committee this morning.
The bill as initially drafted — and unsuccessfully introduced by Rep. George Cleveland in 2011 — would preclude the application of foreign law by “a court, administrative agency, arbitrator, or mediator . . . if doing so would violate a legal or constitutional right of one more natural persons who are parties to the proceeding.”
Though not expressly mentioning Sharia or other religious law, the bill (and its look-a-likes in other states) originated in model form with the American Public Policy Alliance’s “American Laws for American Courts” initiative, which was expressly directed at Sharia law.
Similar bills have been proposed in at least 32 states since 2010, according to the Pew Research Center, but have been enacted into law in only seven. The bills typically run into resistance from both the courts, which view such laws as a threat to judicial independence, and the business community, which views them as antithetical to the development of an international, business-friendly environment.
The watered-down version of the bill apparently limits the restriction to family law and child custody issues — areas in which there have yet to be foreign law problems that would be remedied by such a law, as admitted by Rules Chairman Tim Moore, who helped craft the change. Per WRAL:
Moore said he didn’t know of any cases in which NC courts have allowed Sharia or any other foreign laws to infringe on anyone’s constitutional rights, but said the sponsors were trying to prevent that from happening.