One problem afflicting the Montana state Senate is that it is a historically reactive body. Some crisis emerges, such as the highways needing pavement or the federal government offering Medicaid, and the Senate moves to fix it. As any baseball coach will tell you, that's not how a winning team plays. You can't hang back and wait for the ball to come to you. You've got to run up on it and make a play. Last week, the Senate took a big step in that direction by approving SB97, a bill that prohibits state courts from applying foreign law.
As most trained attorneys know, Montana courts currently apply United States law as described in the Constitution. They also obey the codes of Montana. But around the world, in undeveloped places that have failed to become the United States, foreign people apply foreign laws. Many of them believe in these laws fervently, even religiously. Only a fool would say such practices pose no threat to Montana.
Take Sharia law, for example. It's the code of religious governance derived from the sacred texts of Islam—like the Mosaic law in the Bible, only crazy. Instead of normal, common-sense rules about what fabrics you can wear together and what to do if your neighbor digs a pit and your ox falls into it (hint: death penalty), I'm pretty sure Sharia law says you can beat your wife. It definitely says you don't have to be American, which is a clear violation of the Constitution.
Sure, the people who practice Sharia law are safely contained in foreign places now, but what happens when they come here? It makes sense that they would bring their laws with them, just as Americans do when traveling abroad. As we speak, literally several immigrants from Muslim nations have settled in Montana, and they're probably gearing up to implement Sharia law.
Flathead resident Sandy Montgomery warned the Senate Judiciary Committee of just this problem last week. "We have allowed legal immigrants, illegal immigrants and now refugees to take advantage of our law and culture to take up their own agendas," she said, as reported in the Missoulian. "They have no intention to abide by our laws, nor are they interested in assimilating to our culture."
Gina Satterfield of Helena agreed. "We as a nation and state do not have to wait as a forced host to witness the growing population for this foreign law to implement its totalitarian system," she said, presumably reading from two Sarah Palin Facebook posts at once. Both these experts on Islamic culture testified before the committee in support of SB97, sponsored by Keith Regier (R-Kalispell).
Now that the Senate has approved his bill, Sen. Regier stands as Montana's chief defender against Sharia law. Or perhaps he's second only to the U.S. Constitution, the Montana Code, our state and federal judiciaries, an overwhelmingly Christian police force and centuries of jurisprudence. But when those safeguards fail—as they probably will once Polson gets a kebab restaurant—we'll be glad to have the senator and his forward-thinking bill.
But why stop there? Sharia law isn't the only foreign custom threatening to overrun Montana. Is Sen. Regier aware that in many parts of the world, millions of people eat with sticks? These potential immigrants, legal and illegal, would like nothing better than to come to Montana and usurp our American utensil system. I call on the senator from Kalispell to sponsor a bill prohibiting Montana courts from confiscating forks and knives before it's too late.
In the interest of saving lives, however, we should first pass a law forbidding the Department of Motor Vehicles from allowing British immigrants to drive on the left side of the road. Such an application of Cheerio Law would be disastrous. And let us not forget that the past is a foreign country, too. In the spirit of SB97, I demand we pass a law declaring that if Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the Confederacy should construct a time machine and travel to the present day, Montana will not allow them to re-institute slavery.
Finally, and perhaps most important, I call on Sen. Regier to outlaw any theoretical future toaster that works by automatically detecting bread and sucking it into the slots with a powerful vacuum. It's just too dangerous.
Given the many foreign cultures that Montana cannot afford to become and the limited number of days left in the legislative session, this agenda might seem ambitious. Liberal types may even call it unnecessary. But if Sen. Regier has taught us anything, it's that you can't wait for a problem to emerge before you solve it. There's a whole world of legal systems out there different from our own, and they're exactly as bad as you can imagine.
Dan Brooks writes about politics, culture, and the importance of never putting your hand in the toaster even if you just wonder what it's like at combatblog.net.