NH State Issues

Oppose Frank Edelblut

Mr. Edelblut voted last spring to require all state-funded facilities to allow firearms on their premises, including hospitals, day care centers, drug treatment centers, and halfway houses. He supports conversion therapy for gay youth believes in creationism. He was the recipient of a 2016 award for conservative of the year from the Koch brothers’ organization. Parents have a right to know his position on firearms in public schools. (HB1314, Roll Call #144, 3/10/2016). http://nhlabornews.com/2017/02/55917/

OPPOSE HB 461 (this is from 2015 but still relevant)

Americans United for Separation of Church and State and its New Hampshire members and chapter oppose HB 461. The bill is unnecessary, creates constitutional problems, and stokes anti-Islamic rhetoric. For these reasons, we urge you to ask your representatives to oppose this bill.

Supporters of this bill argue that its goal is to prevent the New Hampshire courts from enforcing foreign laws where such laws conflict with the liberties granted in the New Hampshire and U.S. Constitutions.

But, New Hampshire judges are already empowered to do that.1 And there is no evidence that courts are failing to fulfill that role. Unfortunately, the real impetus for bills like SB 6118 is linked to anti-Muslim sentiment. The bill before us is modeled upon the “American Laws for Americans Courts bill,” which was crafted by the American Public Policy Alliance “to protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Shariah law.”2 The group argues that “Shariah law principles” are “increasingly finding their way into US court cases.”3 A thorough review of the cases cited by this organization, however, reveals that proponents blatantly mischaracterize these cases: These cases, in fact, show that courts treat cases brought by Muslims or that address Islamic faith in the exact same way they deal with similar claims brought by people of other faiths or that involve no religion at all. 4 Furthermore, the U.S. Constitution already protects against any religion “taking over” the courts. The Establishment Clause precludes Courts from promoting or becoming improperly entangled with religion when considering cases involving religious issues. The legislation, therefore, is entirely unnecessary.

Passage of the bill, however, could create real problems. Bills such as HB 461 that enact blanket prohibitions against whole bodies of law or religion “violate the following provisions of the U.S. Constitution: the Supremacy Clause, the Contracts Clause, the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion clause, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause.”5 This bill also violates the Establishment Clause. 6 It fosters excessive entanglement between religion and government, and though it does not explicitly mention Shariah law, its history and source convey disapproval and disparagement of Islam. Furthermore, even though the bill is neutral on its face, it violates the Free Exercise Clause because it targets a particular religion—Islam. 7

Finally, we urge the Committee to reject this bill because of its connection to anti-Muslim animus. As explained above, the organization behind this and similar bills is connected to anti-Muslim views and messages. Approving of such legislation, therefore, serves to stoke anti-Muslim rhetoric.

For all of the above reasons, we also urge NH voters to ask the Committee to reject this bill.


1 See e.g., Lauritzen v. Larsen, 345 U.S. 571, 588-589 (1953)(finding that courts must honor parties’ choice of law except if prohibited by public policy); see also Reid-Walen v. Hansen, 933 F.2d 1390, 1401 (8th Cir. 1991)(stating that where there is no conflict and where it is most practical to apply foreign law, substantive foreign law applies), Noe v. U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 406 S.W.2d 666, 668 (Mo. 1966)(discussing the court’s role of determining whether federal law governs substantively or procedurally).

2 American Public Policy Alliance website, <http://publicpolicyalliance.org/legislation/american-laws-for-american-courts/&gt;.

3 Id.

4 American Civil Liberties Union, Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System (May 2011) available at http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/Nothing_To_Fear_Report_FINAL_MAY_2011.pdf.

5 American Bar Association H.D. Res. 113A (Aug. 8-9, 2011) available at http://www.americanbar.org.

6 Awad v. Ziriax, 754 D. Supp.2d 1298, 1306-07 (W.D. Okla. 2010).

7 Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1992).

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