WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A critic of the unsuccessful Florida bill to ban Shariah law and other foreign legal codes says its failure to pass is evidence of turning public tides on such measures, though a sponsor is promising to try bringing it back.
Though the bill easily passed the House, it was never called for a vote by the full Senate before the Legislature closed its session, effectively killing the legislation for the year.
"I think we may be seeing the tide turn on this wave of anti-Shariah bills around the country," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which opposes such legislation.
A wave of anti-Shariah bills have been introduced in statehouses across the country. Several have stalled or failed, but dozens more await a verdict.
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a foreign law measure Monday, the first victory among advocates for such laws this session.
Three other states - Louisiana, Arizona and Tennessee - previously approved legislation curtailing the use of foreign laws. An Oklahoma ballot measure got 70 percent approval, but it goes a step further in specifically mentioning Sharia, the Islamic system of law. A federal court has blocked the measure's implementation until its constitutionality is determined.
Florida's bill made no mention of Shariah law or any other specific foreign system. It said the use of foreign law would be banned in state courtrooms only when it violates rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and only in certain domestic situations, such as divorces and child custody cases. It would not have applied to businesses.
Opponents called the law unnecessary and anti-Muslim. Muslim groups were joined by the Anti-Defamation League, a defender of Jewish causes, in their opposition.
"You might as well pass legislation to ban unicorns," Hooper said. "If it wasn't so destructive to interfaith relations, to our image around the world, to our commitment to religious and constitutional rights, it would be laughable."
The most fervently outspoken supporters of such bills caution Shariah law could begin to spread outside of Muslim countries in a slow-speed Islamic takeover of the world. Others say not outlawing Shariah jeopardizes the rights of American women.
Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who sponsored the Senate bill, said though many "wild accusations" have been made about what the legislation would do, its purpose was simply to ensure only American laws are heard in Florida courtrooms.
"I expect to file the bill again next year if I'm fortunate enough to be blessed by the people of Florida with another term, and I expect it to pass next year," Hays said. "We just look for another day."
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)