Politics & Government

S.C. lawmakers' bill seeks to prevent 'foreign law'

By Zach Fox

Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Bill Chumley
Bill Chumley

A trio of Upstate lawmakers has pre-filed a House bill that would prevent state and national courts from enforcing any form of law that's not based on the Constitution.

The measure proposed by Spartanburg County Reps. Steven Long and Bill Chumley, along with Greenville County Rep. Mike Burns, would "prevent a court or other enforcement authority from enforcing foreign law in this state," including Sharia law.

"We're using constitutional law instead of a law used in other countries," Long said. "It’s very simple — it’s making sure we’re following the U.S. Constitution and the South Carolina Constitution, that we’re not using precedent that came through foreign law or anything like that.”

The bill would apply to any religious law not currently found in the United States, Long said.

Corey Saylor, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said similar bills have been proposed across the country. He said those efforts are all unnecessary.

“It has been shown over the years, first and foremost, the Constitution is the highest law of the land. That will never be undermined,” he said.

Along with being unnecessary, bills like the one filed in the S.C. House are often anti-Islam, Saylor said.

Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the nation's population, and no Muslim organization in the U.S. is trying to replace the Constitution, Saylor said.

“The bill has been used to essentially foster negative conversations about Islam all over the country. Anytime you see 'foreign law,' it’s essentially a tag for ‘Islam,'" he said. “Under the First Amendment, vilifying or uplifting any religion is outlawed. That’s why they include ‘foreign law.'"

Long said the proposal is simply being proactive, since it isn't an issue at the moment.

“We don’t have any immediate problems with that,” he said.

Saylor said the Constitution already does what Long, Chumley and Burns' bill would do. He said legislators should focus more on major issues rather than frivolous ones.

“I think it’s a waste of time because a, the Constitution already does what the bill and bills like it propose to do, and b, you would think jobs and other real issues should be more important than targeting something that won't realistically happen," he said.