“Arizona Bill to Bar Use of Foreign and Religious Law”

Although the extent to which foreign legal standards should influence our own is very much a legitimate topic for debate, this particular bill is deeply misguided. [Eugene Volokh]


  • I see what they’re mad about — Supreme Court justices who look to foreign law in deciding some frivolous human rights question, i.e., “all the socialist nations of Europe have decided against the death penalty in cases where peanut butter was denied for the last meal, so we will too.” But this statute seems an awkward way to go about stopping that — and is this really a problem in state court in Arizona? Can the Arizona legislature direct a federal judge?

  • There’s a great discussion at Volokh about what this bill would mean.

    Even if you agree that civil courts have no business enforcing sharia law, this goes way beyond that. Corporate contracts under Delaware law, banking contracts under New York law, both of which are very common and not very sinister, would be in jeopardy in Arizona.

  • Conflict of laws cases are fairly rare but they happen. This is isolationism for the sake of it. The alternative question is why you should try cases that are intimately connected with somewhere else under Arizona law.

    Is sharia law actually sinister? No court anywhere will apply foreign penal law so that takes the lashings, amputations etc – in other words the bits that sharia law is criticised for – away. What you’re left with is a foreign legal system with property rights, contracts etc like anything else.

  • […] House of Representatives Proposes Ban on Use of Foreign Law in Oklahoma Courts” [Volokh, earlier on Arizona […]