Breaking news! An American lawmaker knows how the law works!!
Okay, this really shouldn’t be big news, but considering how many states have tried to pass anti-sharia legislation, I wonder sometimes…
The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, has vetoed a law aimed at ‘protecting’ Missourians from foreign law, noting that the law is not only unnecessary, but could complicate the existing legislative system, specifically in the case of foreign adoptions, saying,
“This legislation seeks to solve a problem that does not exist, while creating the very real problem of jeopardizing Missouri’s families’ ability to adopt children from foreign countries. Here in Missouri, we believe in strengthening families and encouraging adoption. By placing additional barriers between couples who want to adopt and children who need loving homes, Senate Bill 267 is quite simply out of step with these basic values.”
I’m not sure what the rates of foreign adoption are in Missouri, but they must be higher than the rates of ‘creeping sharia,’ since that number is zero.
I’m glad the bill has been vetoed, but it’s still frustrating that opponents of the bill had to find a specific example for why the bill is unnecessary. In the bill’s own framing, it’s described as intended “to protect its citizens from the application of foreign laws when the application of a foreign law will result in the violation of a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States, including, but not limited to, due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy.”
That would be a great idea, if there was any risk of the people of Missouri being forced to give up their constitutional rights under pressure of foreign law, but since that’s strictly forbidden in the use of foreign law, it’s a bit like the bear tax. Governor Nixon does touch on this point in his veto announcement, noting: “Furthermore, Senate Substitute from Senate Bill No. 267 could prohibit a Missouri court from enforcing a judgement – based on whole or in part on a foreign law – rendered by the court of another state. The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires that states respect the ‘public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.’”
Appealing to the Full Faith and (I’ve always heard it as) Privileges Clause is a bit problematic, since that’s already taken quite a beating in discussions of marriage equality, but more to the point, it also misses the mark in terms of the concept of “foreign law” – since all non-native legal systems are “foreign law,” the use of the laws of other states are theoretically also made illegal by anti-sharia laws (but only in cases where those laws violate the Constitution, which theoretically they shouldn’t anyways, and again we’re back to the unnecessary aspect of the Senate bill!).
There’s also the fact that judicial proceedings are already subject to appeal based on unconstitutionality – we don’t need to write laws saying judges can’t use unconstitutional laws, they’re already banned from doing so, and that’s the whole reason we have the Supreme Court.
So basically, the legislature of Missouri knows less about the workings of our legal system than a fifth grade civics court. Thank god their governor has at least seen School House Rock.