Alabama voters passed a constitutional amendment Tuesday to prohibit the use of foreign laws in state courts. Republican state Sen. Gerald Allen, who is also a Baptist deacon, sponsored the amendment. He proposed a similar measure in 2011. It never made the ballot since it made specific mention of Islamic Sharia law, which was deemed a violation of the Constitution. A similar measure was also rejected in Oklahoma last year for the same reason, though the judge who struck it down acknowledged that if the term “Sharia” was removed it could solve the problem.

Amendment One, or “American and Alabama Laws and Alabama Courts Amendment,” bars state courts from applying “any law, rule or legal code system used outside of the United States or by any other people, group or culture different from the people of the United States or the States of Alabama.” Sharia refers, in general, to moral code and religious laws of Islam, drawn from the Quran and Sunna. In recent years, dozens of states have proposed measures to keep judges from consulting this and other foreign laws, with varying degrees of success. 

This time around, Allen’s new bill made no mention of the Islamic term specifically, and he was confident it would appeal to voters' conservative values. “It took several times to rewrite the bill itself, to make sure it was correct and to make sure it would be constitutional,” Allen said on Alabama Public Radio last week. We as a legislature felt like it’s important to bring this before the people of Alabama to let their voice be heard because we’re living in a changing world."

The measure was opposed by many groups in the state, including right-wing and religious organizations.

“This is a tremendous waste of effort. It is a waste of time and it costs money,” Randy Brinson, president of the Alabama Christian Coalition, the largest network of evangelical Christians in the state, told the Birmingham News in October. “My frustration is that people -- good people -- get behind something like this just because they want to score political points with the Christian community.”