Legislation and policy-making are usually complicated things that can’t be defined in simplistic, single-word descriptions. But it’s possible when discussing HB 911 by state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, and HB 3027 by state Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, both of which are up for hearing Monday before the Texas House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee.
Here are three single-word descriptions for this legislation: unnecessary, problematic and (potentially) unconstitutional.
These two bills are anti-Sharia law bills. You know, the same kind of legislation that’s been attempted in other states and is all the rage if you’re a legislator with an unfounded paranoia that Sharia law is creeping into our courtrooms. You won’t find the term Sharia in either bill, a likely attempt at getting around First Amendment legal challenges based on the singling-out of one religion. But let’s be honest: we all know what this is about. For instance, take this comment from Rep. Berman:
A lot of federal courts are referring to international courts and laws of other countries. We want to make sure our courts are not doing this, especially in regards to cultural laws. If that includes Sharia law, then so be it.
If this were Wikipedia, Rep. Berman’s comment would have been followed by a . There simply is no credible proof that Sharia law is an impending threat to our court system. These bills are even more unnecessary since both the U.S. and Texas constitutions already prohibit courts from imposing a religious law as civil law.
Also consider the legal nightmare the bills’ broad language banning “foreign laws” could create. Marriages or adoptions that took place in other countries may not be recognized. If you work for a firm involved in international trade litigation, your job becomes much more difficult under this legislation. What if your business is negotiating an international deal?
These bills scream “if it ain’t broke.” HB 911 and HB 3027 will do nothing but give politicians another tool to entice hysteria. We’ll be watching Monday’s hearing in hopes that it doesn’t devolve into a Muslim hate-a-palooza.