Arizona seeks to keep karma out of its courts?

Sounds like an Onion story, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. As James Ure of The Buddhist Blog writes today, Arizona has — seriously — proposed an act which would ban the evocation of karma in its court systems. According to Act SB 1026, “A court shall not use, implement, refer to or incorporate a tenet of any body of religious sectarian law into any decision, finding or opinion as controlling or influential authority.”

If you’re wondering where  — or how far – this is going, the answer may be found in how SB 1026 defines “religious sectarian law.” The phrase refers to “any statute, tenet or body of law evolving within and binding a specific religious sect or tribe. Religious sectarian law includes Sharia law, Canon law, Halacha and karma but does not include any law of the United States or the individual states based on Anglo-American legal tradition and principles on which the United States was founded.”

Ure, in his commentary, tries to give backstory and context to explain why some might see this move as outrageous — or at least  unnecessary and paranoid:

One of the targets of this [post 9-11] fear of anything Islamic has come in the form of a wide-spread paranoia of Sharia law….

In brief, Sharia law is law based on the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an (koran). The Islamophobia is so rampant in America these days that states have taken to banning Sharia law in a preemptive move to prevent such law from taking root.  But the politicians of Arizona didn’t stop there. They wanted to make sure ALL non-Christian religious beliefs would have no influence in Arizona state law. This included banning karma, which I didn’t even know was possible considering karma is basically the idea of, “cause and effect” or causality.

Gavel To Gavel reports reports more on the usage of the bill:

2010 however is perhaps the first time a state legislature has tried to stop the use of karma by the courts (although it is not clear any courts are presently using it). Arizona’s HB 2379 and SB 1026 prohibits courts from implementing, referring or incorporating or using “a tenet of any body of religious sectarian law” and specifically includes sharia law, canon law, halacha, and karma. Decisions that make use of a body of religious sectarian law or foreign law are declared void and such usages declared to be grounds for impeachment. Moreover, the bills are not just targetting Arizona’s state courts; the same legislation declares these provisions apply to Federal courts sitting in diversity jurisdiction and requires any court that construes the statutes must do so in a way to confine the power of Congress and the federal judiciary.

Blogger Nathan of Dangerous Harvests shares an opinion in his post from today, “Arizona Attempts to Ban Karma, Sharia Law, and All Forms of Intelligence.”

What do you think?


  1. Peter
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    If one bans Karma, does that mean the world ends? Its a difficult one, and I still cant work it out, after thinking about it for a while now.

    Someone should just go alone to these people and explain to them what Karma is, and that will sort it all out. Because they obviously dont know what it is. This is like banning the Law of Averages! Its just silly! The world would be a better place if it wasnt run by such silly people.

  2. Renata D
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    What a nonsense. Unbelievable.

  3. Derold S
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Arizona is moving backwards. its an odd proposal. I think the law of karma is played out in court everyday.

    (via Facebook)

  4. Brian C
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I even get sick of its misuse. But, to outlaw it? Why not outlaw the use of bro in common language?

    (via Facebook)

  5. A Buddhist in the rustbelt
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Sounds like someone in Arizona needs to find more constructive things to do with their time. I'd suggest meditation.

  6. Zoil
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Sign up AZ for the same training that China needs for banning reincarnation!

  7. Bronco
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    It has nothing to do with religion, it is based on a scientific finding, named, cause and effect. Now one cannot understand why these fools rely on scientific facts of evidence one minute, then change it yet again when it suits, however, Buddha, described his karma long before the scientists did, and for me. Buddhism, is a science and not a religion…..

  8. horselover_fat
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    The next thing you know, they will disallow the law of gravity…

  9. Rosalyn Verghese
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Clearly the court doesn't understand the real concept & meaning of Karma, which really boils down to "action" and "cause and effect". Agreed with Derold – yes, the "law of karma" is played out in life every day…….what a laugh, AZ!

  10. blissgiver
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    This law is not assigning a value to karma, it is simply saying there is no purpose for it in a courtroom. A court, as I am sure you would want it to, has to use the laws it has on its books not some outside concept, as valid as it is for personal enlightenment. So, relax people.

  11. Posted March 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the nod–can't believe I missed this post!!

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