ST. LOUIS — Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has vetoed a bill that would have prevented judges in the state from using Sharia Law in their judgments, citing fears of endangerment of foreign adoptions and other international concerns.
Nixon appeared at a press conference on Monday at the office of Lutheran Family and Children’s Services, where he explained his position.
“There are certainly problems facing our state and nation, but this isn’t one of them,” he said. “The laws passed in Jefferson City have real consequences. This bill could jeopardize a family’s ability to adopt children from other countries.”
Pastor Alan Erdman, the president of the adoption agency, agreed.
“[This legislation] would spell disaster for children and families, in addition to increasing the costs and processes that govern these adoptions,” he said.
However, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Brian Nieves, called the notion “absurd.”
“If he would have said the bill might cause an invasion of flying armadillos, that would have been just as valid,” he stated. “I think the governor owes it to the people of Missouri to come clean [on the reason for the veto].”
But Nixon also outlined in his written statement that the legislation is unnecessary and “could invite retaliatory action by a foreign country by denying all adoptions to Missourians.”
The bill, known as “The Civil Liberties Defense Act,” does not specifically mention Sharia law (Islamic law), but was written with the intent of preventing Islam or other foreign religions from overtaking or influencing state law. The bill passed in the Senate 24-9 and 109-41 in the House of Representatives.
“Missouri’s been pretty fortunate as far as this goes.” Nieves said. “[And we want to ensure that the state] keeps things the way they are.”
Six other states have passed similar legislation. Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma have all agreed to prohibit state government agencies from using Sharia and other foreign laws in their decision-making processes. As previously reported, legislators in Kansas overwhelmingly passed the bill last May, with a unanimous vote in the House and only three dissenters in the Senate.
However, last year, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals also declared a law in Oklahoma unconstitutional which stated that “courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law.”
Nieves may pursue an override vote in the legislature. However, if so, Faizan Syed, executive director of the St. Louis chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said that he would seek to influence legislators to defeat the override.
“Now that people know the arguments against these laws and what kind of problems they can cause, we’re confident that we can encourage enough legislators to be against the override,” he said.
Legislators need a two-thirds majority vote to override Nixon’s veto.