July 28, 2021

Ban on Sharia law defense in S.C. courts dies at the Statehouse

Ban on Sharia law defense in S.C. courts dies at the Statehouse

COLUMBIA — A bill that would have made the Muslim world’s Sharia law an illegal defense in South Carolina courts was narrowly defeated in the state Senate on Wednesday, killing it for the year.

The measure, sponsored by Charleston Republican Rep. Chip Limehouse, would have prevented an attorney from arguing that the laws of a client’s home country allow for certain actions in South Carolina.

“I’m not surprised,” Limehouse said of the bill’s failure to advance. “The Senate can be the graveyard of many good ideas.”

Limehouse said the measure was needed to curb the advancement of terrorist organizations in the country.

“Ask the people in France,” he added. “Ask the people in Belgium what they think about laws that would limit the use of Sharia law (as a defense in court). To me a ban on Sharia law is kind of like a ban on poisonous gas. It just makes sense.”

Sharia law is the legal framework where the public and some private aspects of life are regulated under legal systems based on Islam. The bill passed the House 68-42 in January.

But the bill failed to get past the Senate Judiciary Committee, dying on a 9-10 vote Wednesday.

“There’s no need to talk about it, let’s just do it,” said Committee Chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, as the vote was taken. Martin voted in favor of the legislation.

Sen. Ronnie Sabb, D-Williamsburg, said he was glad to be one of the committee members who helped defeat the bill which opponents said unfairly targeted Muslims.

“I couldn’t, in good conscience, support what it represents,” Sabb said. “A law like this sends us backwards.”

Limehouse, who is not running for re-election, said he hopes someone will introduce the bill again next year.

“As far as Sharia law, my conscience is very clear,” he said.

Source: The Post and Courier