April 8, 2013

State Legislation Restricting Use of Foreign or Religious Law

Between 2010 and 2012, lawmakers in at least 32 states introduced bills to restrict the circumstances in which state courts can consider foreign or religious laws in their decisions. During this period, six states – Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee – enacted such bills into law. The Oklahoma law, which explicitly banned judicial consideration of Islamic law (or sharia), was struck down in 2010 when a federal district court ruled that the law infringed upon Muslims’ constitutional rights. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s decision on the Oklahoma law in January 2012. The other five states still have their restrictions on judicial consideration of foreign or religious law on the books.

 

The laws enacted in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota and Tennessee have broader, more neutral language than the 2010 Oklahoma law and do not mention sharia or other religious laws by name. Indeed, only 21 of the 92 bills introduced between 2010 and 2012 cite sharia or other religious laws directly. The text of many of the remaining 71 bills is similar or identical to model legislation known as “American Laws for American Courts” (ALAC). The template was drafted by David Yerushalmi, a New York attorney who has become a leading anti-sharia spokesman, and is promoted by the American Public Policy Alliance, an advocacy organization that works with state legislators on public policy initiatives. According to the organization’s website, the model law is intended to ensure that Americans’ constitutional rights are not infringed by state courts’ consideration of foreign or religious laws, including sharia. (For more on religious law and judicial systems, see Applying God’s Law: Religious Courts and Mediation in the U.S.)

 

Click on a state to read about the legislation proposed or enacted there to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state court decisions. On the Bill Details tab, click on a bill number to read additional bill details on the state legislatures’ websites.

 

Download the details as a PDF (150 KB, 33 pages)

States that have:

passed legislation

introduced legislation

no legislation

  • Overview
  • Maryland
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Bill Details

Overview

Click on a state to read about the legislation proposed or enacted there to ban the use of foreign or religious law in state court decisions. On the Bill Details tab, click on a bill number to read additional bill details on the state legislatures’ websites.

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Alaska lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The measure contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation and died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 88
Introduced: Jan. 18, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Alabama lawmakers introduced at least seven state constitutional amendments to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. Five bills contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation, while two explicitly banned consideration of sharia. At the end of 2012, five bills had died in committee and two were indefinitely postponed.

Current as of December 2012

SB 61 (“American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment”)
Introduced: March 1, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment using ALAC model language
Status: indefinitely postponed

SB 62
Introduced: March 1, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of sharia
Status: died in committee

HB 597
Introduced: May 3, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of sharia
Status: died in committee

HB 607 (“American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment”)
Introduced: May 4, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment using ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 33 (“American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment”)
Introduced: Feb. 7, 2012
Content: constitutional amendment using ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 40 (“American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment”)
Introduced: Feb. 7, 2012
Content: constitutional amendment using ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 84 (“American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment”)
Introduced: Feb. 7, 2012
Content: constitutional amendment using ALAC model language
Status: indefinitely postponed

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Arizona lawmakers introduced at least six bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. In April 2011, Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill banning enforcement of any foreign law that violates the U.S. or Arizona constitutions. The measure had passed both chambers of the state legislature by large majorities. The other five bills – two of which explicitly mentioned sharia, canon law, halakhah (Jewish law) and karma – died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

SB 1026
Introduced: Jan. 11, 2010
Content: banned judicial consideration of any "religious sectarian law," including “sharia law, canon law, halacha and karma”
Status: died in committee

HB 2379
Introduced: Jan. 25, 2010
Content: banned judicial consideration of any "religious sectarian law," including “sharia law, canon law, halacha and karma”
Status: died in committee

SCR 1010
Introduced: Jan. 11, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of the “legal precepts of other nations or cultures”
Status: died in committee

HCR 2033
Introduced: Jan. 31, 2012
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of the “legal precepts of other nations or cultures”
Status: died before first reading

HB 2582
Introduced: Feb. 7, 2011
Content: prohibited use of foreign law or any “body of religious sectarian law” in court decisions, except for laws derived from the “Anglo-American legal tradition”
Status: died in committee

HB 2064
Introduced: Feb. 14, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed by the Senate 22-6 on April 5, 2011; passed by the House 38-19 on April 7, 2011; signed into law as Title 12, Ch. 22, Art. 1 on April 12, 2011

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Arkansas lawmakers introduced at least two bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. One bill contained language similar or identical to the model ALAC legislation. Both bills died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

SB 97
Introduced: Jan. 20, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SJR 10
Introduced: Feb. 9, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment limiting application of foreign laws “for the purpose of protecting rights and privileges granted under the United States Constitution and the Arkansas Constitution”
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Florida lawmakers introduced at least five bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. All five bills contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. However, two of the bills would have applied only to family law cases, such as those involving the dissolution of a marriage or the custody of children. In 2012, one of the family law bills passed the House but stalled in the Senate. The other four bills died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

SB 1962 (“American and Florida Laws for Florida Courts Act”)
Introduced: Feb. 12, 2010
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 1294
Introduced: Feb. 22, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HB 1273
Introduced: March 4, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 1360
Introduced: Dec. 22, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language; applied only to family law cases
Status: died in committee

HB 1209
Introduced: Jan. 4, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language; applied only to family law cases
Status: passed by the House 92-24 on March 1, 2012; died in committee in the Senate

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Georgia lawmakers introduced at least four bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. Three bills contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. The fourth bill, a proposed amendment to the state constitution, banned recognition or enforcement of foreign or religious law by any state political entity or court. All four bills died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 45 (“American Laws for Georgia Courts Act”)
Introduced: Jan. 24, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 51 (“American Laws for Georgia Courts Act”)
Introduced: Feb. 7, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HB 242 (“American Laws for Georgia Courts Act”)
Introduced: Feb. 15, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SR 926
Introduced: Feb. 17, 2012
Content: constitutional amendment banning recognition or enforcement of “a religious system, belief, code, or ethnic or tribal custom or practice” – including “lashing, flogging, stoning” and “[p]rejudicial treatment of women” – by any state political entity or court
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

In 2010, the Idaho legislature passed a resolution requesting that the U.S. Congress pass legislation to prohibit the use of “foreign or international law” by domestic courts and prevent “foreign entities, including the United Nations, from having authority over activities within the United States.” The resolution does not have the force of law, and the U.S. Congress has not acted on its recommendations.

Current as of December 2012

HCR 44
Introduced: Feb. 17, 2010
Content: requested that Congress prohibit the use of foreign law by domestic courts and prevent foreign entities from having authority over domestic activities
Status: passed by the House 50-17 on March 4, 2010; passed by the Senate by voice vote on March 25, 2010; sent to the U.S. Secretary of State on March 29, 2010

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Indiana lawmakers introduced at least seven bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. All the bills contain language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. Only one of the measures advanced beyond committee, passing the Senate in 2011 but later dying in a House committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 1078
Introduced: Jan. 5, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 298
Introduced: Jan. 6, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SJR 16
Introduced: Jan. 18, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment using ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 520
Introduced: Jan. 18, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed by the Senate 50-0 on Feb. 17, 2011; died in committee in the House

SB 36
Introduced: Jan. 4, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 90
Introduced: Jan. 4, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HB 1166
Introduced: Jan. 9, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Iowa lawmakers introduced at least five bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. One bill contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. Another bill – a proposed amendment to the state constitution – explicitly banned sharia. All five bills died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HF 2313
Introduced: Feb. 5, 2010
Content: banned judicial consideration of foreign law and sources other than the U.S. Constitution and Iowa’s constitution and legal code
Status: died in committee

HF 489
Introduced: March 2, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HJR 14
Introduced: March 3, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of “international law or Sharia law”
Status: died in committee

HF 575 (“Iowa Freedom and Sovereignty Act”)
Introduced: March 8, 2011
Content: prohibited foreign and religious law from being used in the state if it conflicted with the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. or Iowa constitutions
Status: died in committee

SB 2198 (“Iowa Freedom and Sovereignty Act”)
Introduced: Feb. 15, 2012
Content: prohibited foreign and religious law from being used in the state if it conflicted with the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. or Iowa constitutions
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Kansas lawmakers introduced at least two bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. In May 2012, Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a bill containing language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. Both legislative chambers had passed the measure by overwhelming majorities. The other bill, which also contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model, was introduced and passed by the Kansas House of Representatives but later died in a Senate committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 2087
Introduced: Jan. 25, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed by the House 122-2 on March 30, 2011; died in committee in the Senate

SB 79
Introduced: Jan. 31, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed by the House 122-0 on March 21, 2012; passed by the Senate 33-3 on May 11, 2012; signed into law May 21, 2012

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Kentucky lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The bill, which contains language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation, died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 386
Introduced: Feb. 9, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Louisiana lawmakers introduced two nearly identical bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The bills, which contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation, were approved in both chambers of the legislature by overwhelming majorities and were signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal in summer 2010. Per Louisiana custom, the bill passed last by the legislature is the one officially codified in the Louisiana Revised Statutes.

Jindal also signed into law a third bill related to religious law. It requires issuers of financial securities to disclose whether a security is subject to any kind of religious law or custom. If it is, the religious law or custom must be identified and its effects on the activities of the issuer or the purchaser must be described.

Current as of December 2012

HB 785
Introduced: March 29, 2010
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed by the Senate 28-2 on June 11, 2010; passed by the House 98-0 on June 16, 2010; signed into law June 29, 2010, as Act No. 714; codified as Section 1 of Chapter 1 of Code Title I of Code Book IV of Title 9 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, also referred to as R.S. 9:6001

SB 460
Introduced: March 29, 2010
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed by the House 87-0 on June 15, 2010; passed by the Senate 36-0 on June 16, 2010; signed into law July 2, 2010, as Act No. 886

SB 757
Introduced: April 26, 2012
Content: requires issuers of financial securities to disclose whether a security is subject to any kind of religious law or custom
Status: passed by the Senate 32-1 on May 1, 2012; passed by the House 94-0 on May 22, 2012; signed into law on May 31, 2012 as Act No. 369

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Maine lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The bill contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation as well as a statement that it is based on a 2010 Tennessee law. The bill died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HP 811 / LD 1076 (“An Act To Protect Maine Laws under the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Maine”)
Introduced: March 15, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Michigan lawmakers introduced at least two bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The identical bills contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. Both bills died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 4769 (“Restriction of Application of Foreign Laws Act”)
Introduced: June 16, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 701 (“Restriction of Application of Foreign Laws Act”)
Introduced: Sept. 27, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Minnesota lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The bill, which contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation, was introduced and then withdrawn on the same day.

Current as of December 2012

SF 2281
Introduced: March 5, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: withdrawn

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Mississippi lawmakers introduced at least four bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts, all of which contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. Two of the bills explicitly mentioned sharia. All four bills died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 301
Introduced: Jan. 4, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language but explicitly mentioned sharia
Status: died in committee

HB 525
Introduced: Jan. 10, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HB 2
Introduced: Jan. 30, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HB 698
Introduced: Feb. 20, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language but explicitly mentioned sharia
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Missouri lawmakers introduced at least six bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. Five bills contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. The sixth bill, a proposed amendment to the state constitution, explicitly banned sharia. All six bills died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

SB 308
Introduced: Feb. 21, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HJR 31
Introduced: Feb. 24, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of sharia or the "legal precepts of other nations or cultures"
Status: died in committee

HB 708
Introduced: Feb. 28, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed by the House 102-51 on April 20, 2011; died in committee

HB 768
Introduced: March 3, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 676 (“Civil Liberties Defense Act”)
Introduced: Jan. 17, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HB 1512 (“Civil Liberties Defense Act”)
Introduced: Jan. 25, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed by the House 110-42 on March 29, 2012; died in committee in the Senate

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Nebraska lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The bill contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. The bill died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

LB 647
Introduced: Jan. 19, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, New Hampshire lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The bill prohibited any state tribunal from enforcing any foreign law if doing so would violate federal or state constitutional rights, unless the parties involved had previously agreed to use foreign laws in a written contract or agreement. The bill was passed by the House but later died in a Senate committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 1422
Introduced: Nov. 22, 2011
Content: restricted enforcement of foreign law unless the parties involved had previously agreed to its use in a written contract
Status: passed by the House on Feb. 22, 2012; died in committee in the Senate

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, New Jersey lawmakers introduced at least two bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The identical bills contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. The first bill was proposed in the 2010-2011 legislative session and died in committee. It was reintroduced in the 2012-2013 session, but the bill’s sponsor later withdrew it from consideration.

Current as of December 2012

AB 3496
Introduced: Nov. 15, 2010
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

AB 919
Introduced: Jan. 10, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: withdrawn

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, New Mexico lawmakers introduced at least two bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The bills – amendments to the state constitution – were identical and explicitly mentioned sharia. Both bills died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

SJR 18
Introduced: Feb. 17, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration or application of sharia
Status: died in committee

SJR 14
Introduced: Jan. 25, 2012
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration or application of sharia
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, North Carolina lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. The bill contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. The bill died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

H 640 (“An Act to Protect Rights and Privileges Granted under the North Carolina and United States Constitutions in the Application of Foreign Law”)
Introduced: April 5, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Oklahoma lawmakers introduced at least three bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law by state courts. In May 2010, overwhelming majorities of both legislative chambers passed a measure to place a proposed state constitutional amendment on the ballot for approval by Oklahoma voters. The amendment, which sought to ban judicial consideration of "international law and sharia,” was approved in a statewide referendum in November 2010. However, after a Muslim resident filed suit alleging violation of the right to free exercise of religion, the amendment was struck down by a federal judge. The decision was later upheld by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Another bill, which contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation, passed the House but died in committee in the Senate. A third bill, which did not initially address foreign law, was later amended to prohibit the enforcement of foreign law in cases where allowing it would provide a defense for committing a misdemeanor or felony. It was passed by the Senate but later died in committee in the House.

Current as of December 2012

HJR 1056 (“Save Our State Amendment”)
Introduced: Feb. 1, 2010
Content: placed on the ballot a constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of the “legal precepts of other nations or cultures,” including “international law and Sharia Law”
Status: passed by the House 82-10 on May 18, 2010; passed by the Senate 41-2 on May 24, 2010; approved by 70% of voters in a statewide referendum on Nov. 2, 2010 (Question 755) (PDF); struck down by a district court on Nov. 29, 2010 – see Awad v. Ziriax, No. 10 Civ. 1186, 754 F.Supp.2d 1298 (W.D. Okla. 2010); an appeals court upheld the ruling on Jan. 10, 2012 – see Awad v. Ziriax, No. 10-6273, 670 F.3d 1111 (10th Cir. 2012)

HB 1552
Introduced: Feb. 7, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed 76-3 by the House on March 17, 2011; died in committee in the Senate

SB 671 (PDF)
Introduced: Feb. 7, 2011
Content: banned state enforcement of foreign law in cases where allowing it would provide a defense for committing a misdemeanor or felony
Status: passed by the Senate 40-3 on May 24, 2012; died in committee in the House

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state courts. The bill contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. The bill died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 2029
Introduced: Nov. 18, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, South Carolina lawmakers introduced at least three bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state courts. Two identical bills contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. A third bill – a proposed amendment to the state constitution – explicitly banned sharia. All three bills died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

S 1387
Introduced: April 22, 2010
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of the “legal precepts of other nations or cultures,” including “Sharia Law” and “conventions or treaties, whether or not the United States is a party”
Status: died in committee

S 444
Introduced: Jan. 26, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

H 3490
Introduced: Jan. 27, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, South Dakota lawmakers introduced at least four bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state courts. In March 2012, Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law a bill prohibiting state courts or other state agencies from enforcing “any provisions of any religious code.” Three other bills had been introduced previously and died in committee. Two of the bills contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation, while a third proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would have banned courts from considering foreign or religious law in their decisions.

Current as of December 2012

HB 1253
Introduced: Jan. 26, 2012
Content: banned state enforcement of “any provisions of any religious code”
Status: passed by the House 47-22 on Feb. 14, 2012; passed by the Senate 29-4 on Feb. 28, 2012; signed into law on March 19, 2012, as Ch. 19-8-7

SB 136
Introduced: Jan. 23, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

SB 201
Introduced: Feb. 1, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HJR 1004
Introduced: Jan. 25, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial enforcement of foreign laws or any “foreign religious or moral code with the force of law”
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Tennessee lawmakers introduced at least two bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state courts. In May 2010, Gov. Phil Bredesen signed into law a bill containing language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. The bill had passed unanimously in both chambers of the state legislature. An identical companion bill was introduced in the Senate, but it was eventually withdrawn once the House version of the bill was passed by both chambers.

In addition, two bills that criminalized “sharia organizations” were simultaneously introduced as companion bills in the Senate and House in 2011. An amended version of the House bill that omitted any mention of sharia and instead referred to “terrorist organizations” was enacted into law in June 2011, and the Senate bill was withdrawn.

Current as of December 2012

HB 3768
Introduced: Feb 2, 2010
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: passed by the House 96-0 on April 26, 2010; passed by the Senate 32-0 on May 13, 2010; signed into law on May 27, 2010, as Pub. Ch. 983 (PDF)

SB 3740
Introduced: Jan. 28, 2010
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: withdrawn

HB 1353 (“Material Support to Designated Entities Act of 2011”)
Introduced: Feb. 16, 2011
Content: criminalized “Sharia organizations,” defined as two or more persons conspiring or acting in support of sharia
Status: amended on May 20, 2011, to omit mention of sharia and instead refer to “terrorist organizations”; signed into law on June 21, 2011, as Pub. Ch. 497 (PDF)

SB 1028 (“Material Support to Designated Entities Act of 2011”)
Introduced: Feb. 16, 2011
Content: criminalized “Sharia organizations,” defined as two or more persons conspiring or acting in support of sharia
Status: withdrawn

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Texas lawmakers introduced at least seven bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state courts. Two bills contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. A third bill, a proposed amendment to the state constitution, banned courts from considering or applying “a religious or cultural law.” Another bill prohibited courts from getting involved in “religious doctrinal interpretation or application.” A fifth bill barred rulings based on any foreign law not recognized by Texas or the U.S. All five bills died in committee.

In addition, two other bills that did not originally concern foreign law were briefly amended to contain language similar or identical to ALAC. However, the language was removed before the bills were enacted into law.

Current as of December 2012

HJR 57
Introduced: Jan. 11, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of “a religious or cultural law”
Status: died in committee

HB 911
Introduced: Jan. 26, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HB 999
Introduced: Jan. 31, 2011
Content: barred courts from “religious doctrinal interpretation or application”
Status: died in committee

HB 1240
Introduced: Feb. 10, 2011
Content: barred courts or other adjudicators from ruling based on any foreign law not recognized by Texas or the U.S.
Status: died in committee

HB 3027
Introduced: March 10, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

HB 274
Amendment 6, containing ALAC model language, added on May 9, 2011 by the House; bill passed by the House on May 10, 2011; ALAC language removed by the Senate on May 24, 2011

HB 79
Amendment 12, containing ALAC model language, added on June 21, 2011 by the House; ALAC language removed by the House on June 22, 2011

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Utah lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state courts. The bill, which contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation, died at the end of the 2010 legislative session.

Current as of December 2012

HB 296 (“Choice of Law in Utah Courts”)
Introduced: Feb. 5, 2010
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died at the end of the House session on March 11, 2010

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Virginia lawmakers introduced at least two bills to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state courts. One bill contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation. Both bills were carried over to the 2013 legislative session.

Current as of December 2012

HB 631
Introduced: Jan. 11, 2012
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: carried over to 2013 legislative session; in committee

HB 825
Introduced: Jan. 11, 2012
Content: barred state courts and agencies from basing rulings on foreign law, except to the extent required or authorized by the U.S. or Virginia constitutions
Status: carried over to 2013 legislative session; in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, West Virginia lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state courts. The bill, which contained language similar or identical to the ALAC model legislation, died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HB 3220
Introduced: Feb. 21, 2011
Content: used ALAC model language
Status: died in committee

Legislation Introduced

Between 2010 and 2012, Wyoming lawmakers introduced at least one bill to restrict the use of foreign or religious law in state courts. The bill, a proposed amendment to the state constitution, explicitly prohibited judicial consideration of sharia and foreign law. The bill died in committee.

Current as of December 2012

HJR 8 (“Sharia law”)
Introduced: Jan. 20, 2011
Content: constitutional amendment banning judicial consideration of the "legal precepts of other nations or cultures,” including “international law and Sharia law”
Status: died in committee