Would anti-Sharia legislation be unconstitutional? A constitutent of Congressman Mel Watt (D-NC) sent him this message on July 26, 2007:
To the Honorable Representative of the State of North Carolina:
In order to assure the protection of the American People and the preservation of our Constitution, I think at this point in American history it would be a good idea to introduce legislation like the following:
"In no instance shall the practice of Islamic Sharia law be established or permitted within any state or territory under the jurisdiction of the United States of America."
Watt sent back this response, dated September 14, 2007:
Thank you for your email about the establishment and practice of Islamic Sharia law in the United States.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religious principles. Therefore, I believe that the language proposed in your email would be unconstitutional and I would not support it.
I appreciate your input on this issue. If I or my staff can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Melvin L. Watt
1. Several elements of Sharia clearly would violate Constitutional principles, including the denial of the freedom of conscience and the imposition of dhimmi status on non-Muslims would infringe upon the free exercise of religion. Of course, I'm sure Watt has no idea that those things are elements of Sharia, but they do point up a contradiction: can the imposition of Sharia not be resisted because it is religious, even though it would infringe upon the religious freedom of others?
2. The outlawing of polygamy, in the context of a restriction of Mormon practice, establishes a precedent indicating that Constitutional religious freedom is not absolute, and perhaps providing a framework by which the aspects of Sharia that do contradict Constitutional principles could be outlawed.
3. The question was about the establishing of Islamic Sharia law in any state or territory of the U.S. Watt is now on record as believing that it cannot be opposed. Is he then willing to see the stoning of adulterers and the amputation of thieves' hands in Islamic enclaves in the U.S., in the name of freedom of religion?