Legislative bodies in the United States are often reactive bodies. From the US Congress to state capitals to local governments, the culture of these entities is usually to respond to serious problems rather than anticipate them and act accordingly. I suppose that is what is meant by the term, “the way the world works.” This is not always the case and it should be pointed out when legislators think ahead to anticipate issues, they should be applauded and legislation supported vigorously.
Having spent much of 2009 in the UK, I noted with alarm a number of disturbing developments, including the seeping of Islamic Sharia Law into the traditional English Common Law system. A number of court cases in the UK are leading to the very real possibility of carving out a separate Sharia legal system within the UK by stifling criticism in any way the Islamic cultures and traditions that are offensive to UK and by extension, Western notions of pluralism. There are numerous traditions and customs within Sharia that are deeply offensive to English Common Law and Western traditions – but what is most alarming is that a culture could enter another country and set up a legal framework outside the boundaries of the nation they live in.
While it is unclear how this will be resolved in the UK, having this sort of legal subculture within but yet also apart from the said system is a fast track towards disintegration of nations. One need not be a legal or constitutional scholar to see how dangerous this could be to the rule of law in the United States, which is already threatened by racially carved judicial districts and a legacy of judicial activism that is several generations old. Pre-emptive measures need to be taken at the Federal and State level to ensure this literal Balkanization of our legal system does not happen.
A number of states have already enacted laws to prevent the type of legal descent ongoing in the UK. The Louisiana legislature is ahead of the curve with this issue and will shortly take up legislation in the House and Senate, which is the type of forward thinking most voters are desperately craving these days.
Senator Danny Martiny (R-Metairie) and Representative Ernest Wooten (R-Belle Chasse) have authored SB 284 and HB 701 and SB 460 and HB 785 to address the narrow and overarching issues at stake here. The first pair of bills that would prevent the use of defamation employed with some success in the UK to stifle criticism of Islam. These bills are narrowly crafted and place Louisiana at the forefront of saying yes to liberty and no to statist attempts to smother reasonable debate about what our values ought to be in America. The second pair addresses the larger issue of sovereignty for Louisiana and Federal courts. A quick jump to www.legis.state.la.us can allow the reader to see the legislation in question with routes to contact your legislators and urge them to support SB 284/HB 701 and SB 465/HB 745. Often legislators are criticized, with some justification, but we do not say thanks and support members when they do the right thing. Take the time to communicate to members of the House and Senate on these pieces of legislation. I know from experience that they take personal emails and phone calls into consideration when voting on measures in the Committee and on the floor. SB 284/HB 701 and SB 465/HB 745 merit this sort of communication.