Anti-Sharia Proposal Quietly Advances

After languishing in the House Calendars committee for several weeks — and looking as if the clock might run out on this ill-considered bill — Rep. Leo Berman’s anti-Sharia law measure (HB 911) made a surprise appearance on the House floor on Monday. The language of Berman’s bill was offered as a floor amendment by Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, to the Governor’s “emergency” tort reform bill (HB 274). The amendment passed easily with minimal debate, and since the tort reform bill passed as well, it now moves on to the Senate State Affairs committee.

In stark contrast to the strident, alarmist rhetoric of the committee hearing — and Rep. Berman’s comments in the press — the words “Sharia” and “Muslim” were never even uttered on the House floor during debate. Rep. Hilderbran presented the amendment as an uncontroversial clarification that international laws cannot be considered by the courts when such law contravenes the U.S. Constitution. But just as in the earlier committee discussion, when pressed to explain what sorts of problems this legislation would remedy, its promoters were stumped. Consider this telling exchange between Rep. Hilderbran and Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas:

Anchia: I’m aware of no cases where the U.S. Constitution as it is applied by U.S. courts is not supreme.

Hilderbran: There’s some crazy judges every once in a while that do some crazy things…

Anchia: Well, then they get reversed on appeal.

But in this matter, apparently absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Berman and his ilk are convinced that somewhere, someone, right this very moment is convincing a judge to throw out our entire system of laws and force us all to live under mandatory Sharia law. And when you know it in your gut, you don’t need proof.

It struck me earlier today how closely the entire discussion of Sharia law tracks the debate over “sanctuary cities” in the House this week. Both are, at bottom, rooted in a mistrust and prejudice against a certain group of people. And despite the lack of a documented threat or problem (there are no sanctuary cities in Texas), proponents argue the state MUST act proactively to defend against the possibility of a threat.

But from where I sit, it just looks like  targeting a group of Texans for their religious belief or the color of their skin.

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14 Comments

  1. william swanback
    Posted June 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Once again, the Texas Republican legislators push legislation to cover a problem that doesn’t exist. It is like their recent approval of the Voter ID law for voter fraud even though there is no evidence of voter fraud. It’s also obvious Texas needs a change of political leadership in both the House and the Senate.

  2. Everyday Freethought
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    WRT @Charles above: Many state constitutions have sections which mirror the Federal Bill of Rights pretty closely. So if something violates the US constitution WRT establishing religion, it will probably violate your state constitution as well.

  3. Ben
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Charles, it always amazes me that these pinheads have so little understanding of the Constitution. You’d think that the wealth of court cases that disagree with them might be a clue.

  4. Charles
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED:

    1) The Tea Party is ALL FOR government intrusion into the lives of private citizens, just so long as it is an intrusion that they like.

    2) The Tea Party is ALL FOR government waste of taxpayer dollars as long as they are being wasted by people in their camp.

    3) The Tea Party MAY CLAIM that they have no iron in the social issues fire, but they really do. They are right at home with the ideologies of fruitcake organizations such as the Family Research Council.

    4) If you send them an inquiry and ask for support that appears to bee in keeping with their values, you can trust that they will respond with an attack rather than an attempt to communicate.

  5. Charles
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Gordon said:

    “Calling the Right names, as “fruitcakes” is counter productive. They eat up fruitcake, whack job, idiot, etc as it confirms their status of being victims of an arrogant Leftwing elitist bunch of smart mouths. You get the same brand of vitriol in reverse with no real communication either way.”

    My experience has been that you cannot communicate with these people. Communication involves a respectful exchange of ideas between two people who are ready to mutually listen and consider. I will show you a case in point. As I told you folks a few days ago, the ACLU has sued the county of my childhood for religion-related First Amendment violations. The county also has a Tea Party organization. I wrote to the Tea Party organization and asked them if they would be willing to support the suit. In addition, I sent them a copy of the letter that I sent to the local Director of Schools to express my displeasure with the illegal activities in the schools. On the Tea Party website, they have plain language saying that they are primarily concerned about unwarranted government intrusions into the daily lives of the American people and government waste of tax dollars. They also have a little sign that says they take no official position on social issues. I consider religion to be a social issue.

    My MESSAGE TO THE LOCAL TEA PARTY:

    Good evening gentlemen. I grew up in ******* County. In fact, my ancestry on both sides goes back more than 200 years in ****** County and more than 300 years in Virginia—long before the United States ever existed. You cannot get more American than that. Although I live far away from ****** County today, I still retain an interest in the things that happen there. Recently, while reading my local newspaper at lunch, I came across an article about the ******ACLU filing a lawsuit against the ****** County Schools for violation of the First Amendment religious rights of nine students and their parents in three different ***** County Schools. From looking at your website, I noticed that your organization takes no position on social issues. This suit might be perceived by some as a social issue, but I would contend that it is not. It is really an issue about local government, in the form of the ****** County Schools, poking its nose into the private religious lives of both Christians and nonChristians in ****** County.

    Just as you would argue that a government agency has no business poking its nose into the hiring practices of a private business, I contend that a school administrator/teacher (an official of the government) has no right poking his nose into the religion of my son in a public school and telling him that the things he learns in Sunday School down at my church are wrong and sinful. That applies even if a child and his parents do not have a religion. Even the Bible says that religious education is the domain of families and houses of worship. Public schools need to get their noses out of the religious business of individuals, families, churches, synagogues, etc. The First Amendment was put into place to protect families from such unwarranted government intrusions just as the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms.

    It is also my understanding that your organization is against government waste. If the allegations against the ****** County Schools are true, the school system is going to loose this case just as surely as the sun rises and the tides go out. I have read the ACLU legal brief filed with the U.S. District Court, and it appears to me that this case is no different from scores of others just like it that have cost local school systems a small fortune in court costs and punitive damages. The Kitzmiller vs. Dover decision a few years ago in Pennsylvania cost the school system there about $1.2 million. In hard times like these, willful government waste like this when the school system should know better from a long track record of similarly failed cases in other towns is irresponsible and unconscionable.

    I have written a letter to *********, Director of ***** County Schools, with regard to this matter. I have attached a copy of the letter for you to read—wherein I lay out my position on this issue. One of the attached copies is in Microsoft Word 2010 (most recent version), and the other is in an earlier version just in case you might not be able to open the other file.

    I would like to take this opportunity to urge your organization to take a stand on getting school-based government officials out of the private religious business of families and their churches and to take a stand against the local government waste of funds associated with these unwarranted government intrusions into family life. It may be hard to fight unwarranted government intrusions in Washington, but it should be much easier to do so in your own back yard there in ****** County. Here is your opportunity. Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.

    HERE IS THE RESPONSE I GOT BACK FROM ONE OF THE TEA PARTY OFFICIALS:

    I agree with one point you make – this is not a social issue. It is a constitutional issue. You are proposing that the 1st Amendment, which reads “Congress shall make no law…” somehow applies to a local school board. We fundamentally reject that interpretation. Ours is a federal system in which the power for domestic matters, especially education and religion, is the domain of the States and the People, not the national government. In your interpretation applying the 1st Amendment to a local school board, you must also acknowledge that the 1st Amendment prohibits abridging the freedom of speech, and therefore in your interpretation any attempt to impose standard behavioral rules on students would be unconstitutional. You would also have to apply the 2nd Amendment to the school board, meaning it would be unconstitutional to prohibit an 8 year old from bringing a loaded automatic weapon to school. Your interpretation of the Constitution is utterly illogical and of course is demonstrated to be ridiculous by every shred of historical evidence at the time of the Constitution’s ratification.

    Another point of disagreement with your letter is that this is clearly NOT an issue of religious education. Nobody is teaching religion and nothing in the suit is about teaching religion. Although I would say that’s a shame since every other topic under the sun is fair game for classwork. Oddly enough it seems okay to teach about any book and any set of principals and lifestyle choices… just so long as it isn’t the Bible or religious lifestyle choices. Ironic for a society that was founded on religious liberty.

    Our organization is indeed against government waste. Standing up to bullies like the ACLU who threaten local governments with exorbitant financial penalties is the right thing to do. It is not waste. Allowing our local government to be pushed around by intolerant anti-religious organizations and the federal government is the easy, weak thing to do that just encourages more bad behavior. You are clearly a part of that intimidation and coercion scheme that enjoys threatening struggling school systems into submission.

    Thank you for your letter, but we’d prefer that if you wish to order people around and suppress religious expression that you restrict that behavior to your own family and try to influence people in your own community and leave our school system alone.

    Although I have never met *********, I have attached him on this email since his name was included in the conversation and I would like him to know he has the support of ****** and thousands of other ******** County residents.

    THIS RESPONSE WAS PREPARED BY A PERSON WHO HOLDS A DOCTORATE DEGREE

  6. Charles
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Guys. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but name calling was not my intent. I was searching for the best noun in the English language to accurately describe the proponents of this mess—or at least the nature of their actions. Words exist for a reason. If you would like to offer up a better noun that captures it, I will gladly substitute it.

  7. Doc Bill
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I think that name-calling and ridicule is great! Look at what happened to The Donald at the WH Correspondent’s dinner. He was invited to his own stealth roast and was humiliated in front of the President (and BY the President!), politicians and all the important media personalities. There is no doubt whatsoever that Trump was held up as a Genuine US FDA Class A fool. Since the dinner the media, even entertainment channels like Fox, have ignored Trump. None of these blowhards get anywhere when they’re ridiculed and ignored.

  8. David
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it hurts to call an atavistic nincompoop for what they are. It’s not like we have any hope of convincing them they’re wrong. All that matters is that the rational adults all go out and vote next time.

  9. Posted May 13, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Calling the Right names, as “fruitcakes” is counter productive. They eat up fruitcake, whack job, idiot, etc as it confirms their status of being victims of an arrogant Leftwing elitist bunch of smart mouths. You get the same brand of vitriol in reverse with no real communication either way.

    Sharia, per se, is not mentioned by name in the legislation. The definition used is “contrary to the Constiuttion, which, if read, specifically allows foreign law as precedent under Common Law or as the result of treaties to which the US is a signator.

    The Bible is foreign law, and Jesus is not native born American nor naturalized. The efforts to establish the n0tion that America is a “Christian” nation are based on circumstantial, incompetent, and irrelevant specious “evidence”. If this law is passed, then the State Police should investigate the efforts of Christophiles to overthrow the Constitution and extblish a Kingdom with a foreigner at President and God.

  10. Charles
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Fruitcakes.

  11. David
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Emphasis on “quietly”. That means they’re getting enough exposure as the wacknutjobcrackpotdipsh*ts to end all wacknutjobcrackpotdipsh*ts and they want to keep pandering to those who are stupid enough to be worried about sharia, without attacting much more attention otherwise.
    So, we’re making progress.
    Once again, this and everything else they and Perry are doing, are designed to distract from the catastrophic $27 billion deficit and the wacknutjob measures they’re taking, ostensibly to eliminate it. No matter what happens we shouldn’t let the spotlight shift away from the really big serious problem .

  12. 1toughlady
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Leo Berman is an embarrassment. Can’t we send him to live under sharia law somewhere?

  13. Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    The Constitution provides for “foreign” laws to apply to US courts as with treaties, trade agreements, and the Common Law which is common to more countries than just US and UK. This proposed “law” does nothing, changes nothing, nor prevents anything.

    International courts and intenational law have existed for centuries, but it wasn’t until the US had a beef with the UK for building Confederate Navy raiders in violation of UK laws. These Confederate raiders permanently cruppled the US merchant marine by sinking over 2550 ships including the US whaling fleet. In addition the fears of Confederate raiders was so great that half the merchant ships flying the US flag, reflagged to UK oor other “neutral” nation.

    The US and theUK were getting close of fisticuffs until it was proposed that an inernational court be convened with experts in maritime and international law. This was set up in Geneva and it ruled in favor of the US for the loss of ships, but denied the damages due to reflagging. The amount of damages granted was, however, equal to the total demand the US asked for.

    Talk about unintended consequences! These raders included the CSS Alabama and CSS Shenandoah.

  14. Keanus
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    What I need to know is whether Rep. Berman has looked under his bed recently. I’ve heard the Sharia monster can be found there, especially in Texas.

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