Muslims complain they’re frivolous bills meant to spread fears and sow suspicion of their religion in a nation divided.
But supporters of state proposals to prevent Islamic code from being used in American courts argue they aren’t overtly anti-Muslim and are needed to safeguard constitutional rights for average Americans.
The bills, variations of which have been around for years, don’t specifically seek to ban Islamic law, known as Shariah, even though some lawmakers concede that’s their intent.
Instead, the proposals broadly call for banning the application of any foreign law, legal code or legal system that doesn’t grant the same rights and privileges as the state or U.S. constitutions.
“I believe very strongly in the values of America to allow for religious freedom,” said Connecticut state Rep. Robert Sampson, a Republican sponsor of a bill. “I just don’t want our court system to start using what is religious law from other countries to make decisions. I’d like to preserve our way of life.”