South Dakota State Rep. Phil Jensen spent Tuesday morning explaining what he meant by his bill to expand the definition of justifiable homicide.
Rep. Jensen's bill got its first fame outside South Dakota in a report that said it could legalize the killing of abortion providers. And it does makes room for killing someone trying to harm an "unborn child," but as Mr. Jensen later told Greg Sargent, he's talking only about criminal assaults. The Jensen bill covers a situation where a husband might attack his pregnant wife, for example. Since abortion remains legal in South Dakota, he says his bill wouldn't apply to abortion providers.
Yesterday, producer Rebekah Dryden came across another legislative push by Rep. Jensen, a referendum that would add this to the state Constitution: "No such court may apply international law, the law of any foreign nation, or any foreign religious or moral code with the force of law in the adjudication of any case under its jurisdiction."
Asked about it by phone, Mr. Jensen said, "Oh, the Sharia bill." The Rapid City Journal quoted him this month as saying, "This is an issue that has come up as recently as last week in Minnesota, where you had folks from Somalia who desire to have the courts of Minnesota rule according to Sharia Law, because that's the way it is where they are from. The bottom line in America is that you're not in Somalia, so you need to abide by our laws."
But his proposal is not really about the Islamic legal code, Mr. Jensen told us. "It doesn't say anything about Sharia Law," he said. "I'd like for the voters of South Dakota to have the right to vote into constitutional law a law that would safeguard the freedoms of our constitution."
As for the Sharia issue that came up "as recently as last week in Minnesota," Mr. Jensen told us he saw a report on Muslim cab drivers who said Islamic law forbids them to carry passengers traveling with alcohol (and maybe dogs). There's something to that -- but the cabbies' dispute with the Minneapolis airport seems to have been settled back in 2007, with the stiffening of penalties for refusing to take a fare. Since then, a 2007 Fox News story on it has continued rattling around the Internet. Last summer, the video got added to the YouTube playlist of Now the End Begins, an apocalyptic Christian website, where the nearly four-year-old clip has been viewed more than 1.6 million times.