Religious Law

South Dakota Governor Signs Law Banning Courts from Enforcing Religious Codes


South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed a bill designed to prevent courts from applying Islamic law.

The revised measure bars courts and governmental agencies from enforcing any provisions of any religious code, according to Gavel to Gavel, a newsletter of the National Center for State Courts.

The bill was aimed at Islamic law, but it used neutral wording in an effort to ward off constitutional challenges, according to a story published earlier this month by MSNBC.com. Civil rights advocates are planning to file a First Amendment challenge nonetheless.

In January, the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a challenge to an Oklahoma voter initiative that bans state courts from using Islamic law in their rulings. The court upheld an injunction that barred the state constitutional amendment from taking effect.

Gavel to Gavel is tracking 40 religious law bills introduced in more than 20 states.

Prior coverage:

ABA Journal: “Anti-Shariah Bills Under Review”

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