12/1/2010 - December 2010 SLI Educational Update - The Influence of Foreign Laws
AN EDUCATIONAL UPDATE FROM
THE SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE™, INC.
To: SLI Supporters
Date: December 2010
From: A. Eric Johnston
Re: The Influence of Foreign Laws
There have always been those who would like to look to the law of other nations for guidance on the way our laws should be. When the pilgrims first came to America for religious freedom, along with others seeking to escape the tyranny of England and other countries, they set up what was called a great experiment. The American experiment has seen the fulfillment of their dream.
America’s experiment was based on individual liberty and the freedoms that follow. The central government was to be limited in its authority, with ultimate authority in the hands of the people. To a significant extent, America succeeded and continues to enjoy unparalleled freedom and success in the world. This does not mean there have not been abuses through the years and unfortunately the federal government has grown significantly more than the federalists envisioned.
The United States is a sovereign nation with her own laws. She stands alone in determining what is right and wrong for herself. Other nations are sovereign and have their own laws, notwithstanding some of the problems in which some European nations find themselves because of their formation of and membership in the European Union. When we form treaties with other nations, each respects the sovereign law of the other. We do not submit ourselves to the authority of any other authoritative body. For example, for several years there was an international effort for nations to sign the “Law of the Sea Treaty.” This would have placed jurisdiction over the open sea in a separate international body. We did not ratify it.
In recent years, the application of foreign laws has become more prevalent. One of the most significant events was in the case of Lawrence v. Texas (2003), when Justice Anthony Kennedy looked to foreign laws for help in determining that homosexuality is legal in the United States. The court again looked at other nations’ laws when it was trying to decide the issue of capital punishment of underage persons in the case of Roper v. Simmons (2005). There was an outcry from scholars, jurists and others that American sovereignty should not be diminished by what other nations do. After all, we have our own tradition and culture. It has been successful and it should not be diminished by imitating the failed or impotent democracies of Western Europe or socialist regimes and third world countries. Americans were dismayed when they heard President Barack Obama say that America is not a Christian nation and represented to other countries that we were merely one nation among others. While by some geo-political definitions that may be true, America’s Christian heritage of liberty has made her a leader among nations.
Finally, the most significant development has been what is termed the “Sharia creep.” This is the creep of Sharia law into America’s legal system. We will be talking about Sharia law more in the future as we work on legislation for the 2011 Alabama legislative regular session to forbid the use in Alabama courts of foreign law in determining our rights and privileges. For now, we will briefly describe Sharia law as the religious, political and cultural law that guides Muslims in all facets of their lives. Just as Muslims belief in the jihad compels them to seek to overthrow America by force (terrorism), it compels individual Muslims to live under Sharia law and not the law of the country where they live. Consequently, Muslims are seeking ways to apply Sharia law for themselves, and ultimately others, within the structure of the United States federal and local governments. Sharia law is far more than religion. The debate of building a mosque at “Ground Zero” is not about freedom of religion.
Ultimately, the requirement of Sharia law is that it overthrow any legal system in which it operates. Man made law must be submissive to Sharia law. We need only look to the upheavals in France and England to see the public policy issues with which they are dealing due to the large, influential and demanding Muslim populations. In the United States, we already have cases in the courts of at least 12 states seeking to require the application of Sharia law, instead of the law of the state.
We must not be complacent about this issue. We must learn from history. For example, in 1934 pastors in Germany were required to take an oath to Adolph Hitler. By 1937, Gestapo agents were attending church services, and it was not to hear the Gospel. The birthplace of the Reformation became the home of an evil empire. It is important we take this unprecedented step, a step many of us never thought would be necessary, to place into our laws prohibitions of the use of foreign law, Sharia and otherwise. The issue is not about religious freedom, it is about the preservation of America as a nation.
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