This week I took steps to stop a bill which could have prevented South Carolinians from adopting children from countries which do not respect the same rights that our government respects, such as free speech. Rep. Chip Limehouse's anti-Sharia Law bill H.3521, which was drafted by American Laws for American Courts, was amended on the House floor with legal language is complicated and difficult, and the risks of serious unintended consequences were high. I originally was a co-sponsor, but after seeing the new language I was no longer confident that I could support the bill.
After speaking with Rep. Limehouse directly about my concern and removing my name from the bill, I took the floor to explain my concerns, and why I was prepared to cast a "no" vote. Later in the day, debate on the bill was adjourned, which was the right move (after two failed attempts that day). I am now working to have my concerns addressed and to explore any amendments that might be needed, so that hopefully I can support the bill when it comes to a vote next week.
Below is an abbreviated version of my comments which I gave on the House floor on Thursday, May 14th 2015.
This bill was passed around in this chamber several weeks back. I looked at it, and I read the bill as I always do before putting my name on something. I was happy to support it. And then I get into the chamber today, and not only have we broadened the language from Sharia law to any foreign law potentially, but we've also done it with a strike-and-replace amendment that I've never seen before today.
We've had some motions to adjourn debate, and unfortunately those motions have been tabled. I think that's a mistake, because it's entirely possible that I would have been able to have my questions addressed to my satisfaction and be able to go on and vote for the bill. But if we're gonna force a vote on this bill today, I'm voting no, and this is why.
My concern is that the trigger for disqualifying a foreign law from being used in a contract in an American Contract or in an American court decision, is broader than just the piece of that foreign law in question, but that it looks at the entire system of that foreign law, and if that system of foreign law does not protect all the same rights that our US Constitution and our state Constitution which we swore an oath to protect and defend, then that system of foreign law, and any part thereof, is automatically disqualified from any American legal matter.
If that is true, then Mrs. Powers-Norrell's concern about this getting in the way of adopting, for instance, Chinese children, or Arab children, or African children, or any other--Russian--would be a legitimate concern.
We do not have to pass this bill today! I wish we would put it off so we could think about it a little more, discuss it a little more, and then cast a more reasoned and informed vote.