Daniel Mach, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, and Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU's Human Rights program, recently co-authored an article on the Huffington Post attacking legislative efforts to prohibit the application of foreign laws inconsistent with the rights granted by the U.S. and state constitutions or state public policy.
The article posits a series of disjointed, hypothetical misapplications of the legislative efforts to prevent sharia from encroaching into our legal system. Yet, the authors cite no actual examples of misapplications of laws already passed and in force, in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arizona. The authors fail to distinguish this American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) legislation from other legislative efforts, such as the Oklahoma constitutional amendment, which do not explicitly reference the protection of constitutional rights and public policy in prohibiting application of sharia or foreign law.
Further, the authors contend that these laws, explicitly protecting established constitutional rights, are superfluous because the First Amendment already protects these rights, and then allege that these laws violate the religious freedom granted by the First Amendment. The authors thereby dangerously conflate the judiciary's interpretation and enforcement of secular law with interpretation and enforcement of religious doctrine. The freedom of religion and establishment clauses of the First Amendment do not address the application of foreign law, including sharia, in American courts, and, as demonstrated below, have not been applied to prevent such application.