[Update I: I have streamlined the following post to be easily readable to the average layman, but informative enough for a lawyer or law professor to learn a bit more on the similarities and differences between Sharia and U.S. Law]
Is Sharia compatible with the U.S. Constitution?
The simple answer is of course “no”.
But lets take a look at some aspects of Sharia Law and where it may or may not conflict with the U.S. Constitution. (For disclosure I am not a lawyer nor a legal expert in Sharia or U.S. Law.)
First, what is Sharia?
Wikipedia states Sharia refers to the sacred law of Islam. All Muslims believe Sharia is God’s law, but they have differences between themselves as to exactly what it entails. Which will be difficult to discern what to apply when, but we’ll labor along for the sake of discussion.
In Western countries, where Muslim immigration is more recent, Muslim minorities have introduced Sharia family law, for use in their own disputes. Attempts to impose Sharia have been accompanied by controversy, violence, and even warfare (Second Sudanese Civil War).
The recent incidents at the Arab International Festival have reinforced the poor image of Sharia inside the United States and its incompatibility with American culture and law.
The following is a truncated version with a couple of modifications (eliminating repetitious ibids and links) of multiple Wikipedia entries [with my comments]:
Legal and Court Proceedings:
1. Sharia courts do not generally employ lawyers; plaintiffs and defendants represent themselves.
Apparently the police acting to unconstitutionally arrest individuals attempting to hand out proselytizing literature to Muslims in Dearborn is not unusual according to this release from the Thomas More Law Center:
In what some have described as police enforcement of Sharia law at the annual Dearborn Arab International Festival, last Friday night Dearborn Police Officers arrested four Christian missionaries and illegally confiscated their video cameras which were recording the events surrounding their arrests. The Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today announced it is representing all of the Christian missionaries.
One of the many things that makes Louisiana the greatest state in the Union is that due to its high population of Catholics it is the most pro-life state on the issue of abortion. This allows Louisiana to develop and pass pro-life laws that legislators in other states can adopt.
The latest laws are no exception, though perhaps they are too late. You may remember how in the healthcare debate, Catholics promoting the bill often pointed out that insurance often covers abortion and that the federal bill was doing little to expand coverage for abortion over the current private insurance system. Some in that camp obviously believed that the Republicans were too wedded to big business/insurance to actually change that.
I was glad they pointed this out, as it exposed a situation which I believed pro-lifers would soon rectify. Indeed, Louisiana is very close to doing just that:
House Bill 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, would bar private insurers from covering “elective” abortions, including by women who are victims of rape or incest. The only exception would be for abortion procedures performed to save the life of the pregnant woman
Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches, who handled Hoffman’s bill, said it was filed in response to the health-care overhaul bill approved earlier this year by Congress, which gives states the right to “opt out” of covering elective abortions. He said the legislation is meant to affirm Louisiana’s long-standing opposition to abortion.Hoffman’s bill, which passed 28-3, must go back to the House for agreement with changes made by the Senate before it can go to Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s desk.
Hopefully more pro-life states will follow Louisiana’s lead.
But it does clearly show the problems with the positions adopted by Catholics who promoted Obamacare. They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things. While sometimes the GOP does justly cause pro-lifers to be close to despair, Louisiana shows that sometimes real pro-life change can come if only we work for it.
This reduction occurs when we understand and act upon our moral obligations to one another only within the framework of a social contract–when we limit our obligations to those who have entered into such contracts and consider ourselves obligated only to those who share our citizenship, have signed a treaty we have signed, or participate with us in some other contractual arrangement. I make this reduction when I don’t care about torturing terrorists because they’re not signers of the Geneva Conventions, when I wish to alienate the immigrant who enters my country against my country’s laws, when I ignore my obligations to those not yet born because the laws of the land do not recognize their personhood, or when I insist that others shouldn’t be given Constitutional rights when the rights I wish to withhold from them are basic human rights.
I think that he’s right as far as he goes, but I don’t think that his point that basic human rights and duties are inherent to humanity (rather than assumed via some sort of contract/relationship) is actually the point usually at dispute in our society. Rather, what seems often to be disputed is what the extent of basic human rights are — and which “rights” are merely agreed civic rights which we grant explicitly via the social contract.
I am a proud American with a long and rich Mexican heritage.
My name is Tito Edwards and I approve this message.
(Biretta tip: Lucianne)
Conservatives are fairly comfortable with the point that if you ban or severely restrict guns, than only the criminals will be armed.
Let’s then ask ourselves: If we ban or severely restrict immigration (most especially from a right-next-door country with a much poorer economy, such as Mexico) aren’t we assuring that only criminals immigrate?
If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?
I read a comment a few weeks ago on GetReligion.org attempting to explain why John Paul Stevens was the last Protestant in the U.S. Supreme Court which simply said that Catholics and Jews have a tradition of being immersed in law (Canon Law and Halakha respectively for Catholics and Jews as an example).
This struck me as interesting because at first glance it kind of makes sense.
Of course there is much more to why the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, 6 Catholics, 2 Jews, and an Episcopalian, is as it is.
But I thought it was an interesting enough topic to dive into.
Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe chimes in with her two cents worth [emphases mine]:
Evangelical Protestants have been slow to embrace, or to feel welcomed by, the elite law schools like Harvard and Yale that have become a veritable requirement for Supreme Court nominees. One reason for this, some scholars say, is because of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism.
As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again, pushing the liberal theory that Christians are stupid (at least Evangelical Protestants).
Lets get beyond these stereotypes done by liberals to Christians.
The discussions here about Arizona’s new attempt at enforcing immigration law have set me thinking about a more general question: What should we do as a body politic in a situation in which a law we have passed seems impossible to enforce?
In a sense, no law is enforced perfectly. Cannibalism is against the law, yet it does still, on rare occasions, happen that someone kills and eats someone else. We don’t generally describe this as the laws against cannibalism “not being enforced”. Rather we describe it as someone breaking the law.
When we talk about a law not being enforced, we generally mean that a lot of people are breaking it, and yet few of them seem to be suffering the consequences. Thus, although murders take place on a daily basis in our country, we generally do not hear complaints that no one is enforcing the laws against murder, since we at least see the police and prosecutors going through the process of trying to arrest and prosecute people for those crimes.
The State of Arizona is only enforcing what is already law at the federal level. That being said and myself being the son of a legal immigrant from the nation of Mexico, the May Day protests and the highly unbalanced news reporting from the mainstream media have purposely distorted the legislation that has been passed in Arizona.
Having attended college and lived in Arizona for almost ten years I know for a fact that there are many good people living there and I am disappointed in how unfairly and untruthful they have been portrayed by the mainstream media.
The only other thing I want to say is that Roger Cardinal Mahony’s reprehensible choice of words to characterize the law that had been passed in Arizona is unbecoming of an archbishop.
Related posts on this issue here at The American Catholic:
Somewhat related posts on this issue here at The American Catholic:
The last time I wrote about immigration here at TAC – hard to imagine it was only a year ago, maybe longer – I had what I was fairly certain was an informed Catholic view of immigration.
I really haven’t deviated much at all from my original view, which was hardly radical – that nations have a right to regulate immigration and police their boarders, and that Christians have an obligation to treat all people in their midst, regardless of their legal status, with dignity and respect, with charity and love.
But there are a number of issues that knee-jerk opponents of immigration law enforcement simply don’t talk about, for a myriad of reasons. For some on the left, opposition to illegal immigration is reducible to racism. This is undoubtedly true in some cases. To apply it to ALL opponents of illegal immigration is a hateful, vicious smear – especially when one of the most active Hispanic advocacy groups in the United States has a name that translates to “The Race” (La Raza). Racism is not unknown on the other side of this issue.
When Catholics justified their decision to vote for Obama, they did so on two grounds: healthcare and foreign policy. The premise was Obama would actually save lives through healthcare and through his more peaceful foreign policy, thus outweighing the damage he would do through his promotion of abortion.
I never found that premise convincing. Not only did I think they underestimated the damage abortion does, but I also believed that they were ignoring what Barack Obama was actually promoting in his foreign policy. To make a long story short, I think most people assumed that since Obama was a Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq that he would be the opposite of Bush when in truth their positions are very similar.
Since taking office, Obama has largely followed the lead of his predecessor. However today news is coming out that he has surpassed his predecessor in circumventing due process: Obama has authorized the CIA to kill a US citizen believed to be involved in terrorism (H/t Vox Nova).
The idea that an American citizen can be killed without a trial outside of battle is a troubling one, regardless of whether you voted for Obama or not. The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.
To take away human life outside of self-defense is a power no one, including the President, possesses. One will hope that the media will publish this and emphasize it so that public pressure will dissuade Obama from taking this course of action. Unfortunately, one has to doubt that that hope will be realized.
Justice exalteth a nation: but sin maketh nations miserable. – Proverbs 13:34
Is there such a thing as a “social sin”? It is out of a respect for my friend Brendan/Darwin that I want to examine and critique his rejection of the idea of social sin, with which I partially agree, but which I believe also leaves out some crucial facts. This is not a point against Brendan/Darwin, since I don’t believe he intended his post to be a treatise on the issue. It is rather a point in his favor, since his general considerations give us the opportunity to explore the question in greater detail.
It must be said at the outset that there are obviously different things that one might mean by “social sin.” Brendan/Darwin begins his argument with the observation that there are those who become “frustrated” with the emphasis many Christians place on individual failings to the neglect of “social or political sin.” There is a significant difference, however, between social and political behavior. My intention is not to split-hairs in order to undermine a valid point (which it is), but rather to highlight the extent to which society and the body politic have become indistinguishable from one another. In my recent essay on the social effects of abortion, I make a distinction between organic and artificial social bonds; the former are those that necessarily follow from man’s social nature, while the latter are those created through politics, i.e. laws. Because we are imperfect and often malicious beings, some artificial authority will always be required for men to attain “the highest good.” But human laws are not foundational – they are supplemental to natural and divine laws, or at least they were in most places in the Western world until the 19th century.
Michael McConnell, a Law Professor at Stanford, offers this in a First Things review of Philip Hamburger’s new book titled Law and Judicial Duty:
Hamburger traces the development of modern conceptions of the law to the realization, in Europe and especially Britain, that human reason rarely provided clear answers to moral questions and therefore that an attempt to ground law in divine will, or a search for abstract reason and justice, would inevitably lead to discord. As a result, “Europeans increasingly located the obligation of law in the authority of the lawmaker rather than the reason or justice of his laws.” The task of judges, then, was not to seek after elusive notions of justice and right reason but to enforce the law of the land. Natural law shifted in emphasis from moral content to legitimacy and authority, and increasingly to an understanding of authority based on the will of the people.
This seems to me a profound explanation of how and why we understand law today the way we do. It simultaneously shows you what is wrong with the modern conception of the law and what is right.
So there’s a new You-Tube video spreading around meant to be the final word in exposing the hypocrisy of anti-abortion advocates. In what many seem to believe is highly telling, an interviewer asks a group of demonstrating pro-lifers that, should abortion be declared illegal, if they would punish women who had abortions. Apparently the confused looks, murmured “I don’t know, I don’t think they should be punished,” and the otherwise general indication that they hadn’t thought much on the issue, somehow shows that pro-lifers do not believe that abortion is murder, or even the taking of human life. There is a huge amount of self-congratulatory straining of shoulders, clapping themselves on the back for having discovered this one-shot knockdown argument.