On Friday, Pennsylvania State Rep. Darryl Metcalfe and 17 co-sponsors introduced HB 1288. The bill’s short title indicates that it seeks to combat a phantom threat: “the application of foreign law which would impair constitutional rights.”
Such measures are largely modeled off so-called American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) legislation. Referred to by many as simply anti-Shariah bills, ALAC needlessly casts suspicion on religious minorities, particularly Muslims. The U.S. Constitution already strictly prohibits the application of any foreign law.
Anti-Muslim attorney David Yerushalmi, the author of ALAC and the country’s primary proponent of the legislation, has admitted as such. In a 2011 interview with The New York Times, he acknowledged the legislation’s motivations and intent. “If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would have not served its purpose,” he claimed. “The purpose was heuristic — to get people asking this question, ‘What is Shariah?’”
Metcalfe isn’t only concerned with Muslims. He has introduced measures to curtail immigration, reproductive rights, voting rights, labor rights, and same-sex marriage.
During its national convention in 2012, the Republican Party adopted support for ALAC’s provisions. The plank can be found in a section of its national party platform titled, “American Sovereignty in U.S. Courts.”
To date, nine states have adopted the ALAC legislation to counter the nonexistent implementation of foreign laws.
Metcalfe, who is also founder of the nativist State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI) coalition, has supported ALAC legislation in the past and, in 2008, bluntly refused to vote for a resolution honoring a local Muslim organization. Metcalfe’s reasoning for his opposition? “The Muslims do not recognize Jesus Christ as God and I will be voting negative.”
But Metcalfe isn’t only concerned with targeting Muslims and immigrants. According to a 2014 study by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Metcalfe is the only state legislator in the country who has attempted to roll back the rights of Americans across six different issue areas: 1) abortion rights and access, 2) “Defense of Marriage Act” bills (DOMA) and other bans on same-sex marriage, 3) Right-to-Work legislation, 4) Anti-immigrant proposals, 5) “Voter Identification” requirements, and 6) Anti-Sharia/Anti-“Foreign Law” bills.