Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State.
Photo: Associated Press via Politico
Laws targeting the non-existent threat of sharia, or Islamic law, in the U.S. have already been introduced in 31 states. But Republicans clearly want to see sharia targeted in all 50 states, with one official now hoping that the recently published GOP platform inspires even more more initiatives targeting sharia law.
Earlier this week, I noted that Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State and a right-wing anti-immigrant activist, inserted a plank into the GOP party platform targeting “foreign law.” While the word “sharia” does not appear in the now-released Republican platform, Kobach was explicit about who he was targeting when he was making the case for why his amendment should go into the platform.
“Subjecting American citizens to foreign laws is inimical to the spirit of the Constitution,” the GOP platform states. “There must be no use of foreign law by U.S. courts in interpreting our Constitution and laws. Nor should foreign sources of law be used in State courts’ adjudication of criminal or civil matters.”
Though party platforms “are often mocked as unread and unimportant,” as the New York Times put it today, Kobach is banking on his amendment mattering. He wants the platform plank to spark more calls to ban sharia–despite the fact that “there is no evidence that Islamic law is encroaching on our courts,” as a 2011 ACLU report (pdf) noted. In fact, it’s not even possible for Islamic law to “encroach” on the US Constitution, considering the “supremacy clause.”
But that doesn’t matter to Kobach. Appearing on sharia fear-monger Frank Gaffney’s radio show last week, Kobach says that “we’d like to see all of the states take a firm stand against Sharia law being used in their courts.”
Courtesy of Right Wing Watch, here’s the full back and forth on this between Kobach and former Congressman Fred Grandy (filling in for Gaffney on his radio show):
Grandy: Is this a way of saying through the Republican Party organs that perhaps these kinds of Kansas-like provisions should be introduced at the state level around the country?
Kobach: Absolutely, that is the unequivocal intent and I don’t think anyone reading ou[r] platform could come to any other conclusion. We’d like to see all of the states take a firm stand against Sharia law being used in their courts.
Grandy: I would have to say that particularly for those states where you have Republican dominated legislatures that have been somewhat reluctant to even consider this, or as in the case of Kansas had some pushback from some different minded Republicans, this is a terribly encouraging step. Because if the Republican Party nationally can say ‘no foreign laws in foreign courts’ particularly at the state level, because the point you make about it obviously being a threat from the top-down with the U.S. Supreme Court, but we also have to be mindful of the threat bottom-up at the state level, is something that I think enhances those of us that are trying to advance this initiative around the country in legislatures that up to this point have not been receptive.
Kobach: I hope so and I think it will allow state legislators who are trying to move similar legislation like Kansas’s and other states, they can point to the national party platform and say, ‘hey look, this is part of our national platform, this is not some unheard of or imaginary threat, this is part of the national Republican Party platform,’ and hopefully that will help assuage concerns that some of the more wobbly Republicans might have.
If they follow Kobach’s advice, state legislators should prepare for court battles ahead. An Oklahoma law targeting Islamic law was struck down early this year.