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House advances bill forbidding Sharia law as defense in state court

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This is from The Post Courier.

Bravo South Carolina.

 

COLUMBIA — Lawyers and defendants in South Carolina would not be able to cite Sharia law or other international defenses in court cases if a Charleston lawmaker’s proposal is enacted.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Chip Limehouse, is one step closer to becoming law after the House on Thursday approved it on a second reading. The proposal prevents an attorney from arguing that the laws of a client’s home country allow for certain actions. It passed 68-42.

Sharia law is the legal framework where the public and some private aspects of life are regulated under legal systems based on Islam.

Limehouse said the law is needed “so an attorney can’t go into state court and say that the defendant that beat up his daughter for going on a date with a non-Muslim was within his rights according to (Sharia law).”

While Limehouse said there are no known cases of attorneys in South Carolina trying to use international laws as a defense, it has happened in other parts of the country.

The lack of cases in South Carolina was a main argument against the bill raised by Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, who said it did more harm than good.

“You can identify no concern, no entity that this applies to,” he said. “This is to get people fearful so they vote for you.”

Smith said taking up bills like Limehouse’s helps him understand why constituents are frustrated with lawmakers.

“The first debate of this chamber in 2016 is about Sharia law,” he said. “It’s not going to pay for roads, it’s not going to educate a child, it’s not going to create a job. We’re not doing what it is our responsibility to do.”

Limehouse said the law was necessary to keep residents safe.

“Sharia law is completely inconsistent with our culture,” he said. “This bill clarifies that it will not be recognized in our courts.”

The bill will be up for a third reading next week before being sent to the Senate.

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