by Patrick B. McGuigan
Legislation to ban use of foreign legal precedents in most cases passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives last week. Two female legisaltors from the capital city clashed in committee and floor deliberations over the proposal’s merits.
House Bill 1060, sponsored by state Rep. Sally Kern, a City Republican, would prohibit use of foreign laws in any instance where such use would violate the state or federal Constitution. Kern’s proposal sailed through the House, 81-11, but drew a sharp rebuke from state Rep. Kay Floyd, a Democrat who also hales from Oklahoma City.
Kern referenced 70 percent statewide voter approval, in 2010, of State Question 755, specifically banning use of Sharia law in Oklahoma. She noted that a federal district court judge rules “we could not discriminate by singling out a specific group.”
For that reason, H.B. 1060 “contains language that is more general and therefore should be accepted by the courts. Tennessee, Kansas, Arizona, and Louisiana have passed the same legislation without any court challenges.”
Rep. Kern hopes, “If this bill becomes law, the will of the people will finally be acknowledged.”
Floyd, who opposed the measure in floor debate, assailed Kern’s proposal.
“I have two main concerns. No one ran this past the Attorney General, to see if it would in fact withstand a legal challenge. I think that is irresponsible. This bill if passed has a strong possibility, even a likelihood, to be contested in court. It seems imprudent to me not to have checked on whether it could withstand legal scrutiny,” Rep. Floyd told The City Sentinel.
Floyd also contended, “I also think it has the potential to limit citizens’ rights to enter into contracts with other citizens. Rep. Kern said corporations had been exempted under her bill because they are more sophisticated at such things. I thought that was insulting to the citizens of Oklahoma.”
The proposal now moves to the state Senate, where passage is considered likely.
Foreign law ban easily passes state House, but city legislators clash over its merits
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