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GOP Debate | Fact Check

Cain missed on use of Sharia law

By Shira Schoenberg
Globe Correspondent / June 15, 2011

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Checking on statements made in Monday night’s Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire:

Herman Cain on Sharia law in US courts: “There have been instances in New Jersey — there was an instance in Oklahoma where Muslims did try to influence court decisions with Sharia law. I was simply saying very emphatically, American laws in American courts.’’

The facts: There is no instance in Oklahoma when Muslims tried to use Sharia law to influence court decisions. The case in question stemmed from a ballot measure passed by voters, which would have amended the Oklahoma constitution to forbid courts “from considering or using Sharia law.’’

The author of the measure, state Representative Rex Duncan, a Republican, told the Associated Press that the measure was a “preemptive strike,’’ and there were no known cases of a judge using Sharia law.

After the ballot measure passed, Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, challenged the measure in federal court, arguing that it violated Muslims’ First Amendment rights of religious freedom and also violated the Constitution’s establishment cause by singling out a particular religion.

A US District Court judge found in favor Awad and granted an injunction. The case is under appeal.

A New Jersey case did have an element of the use of Sharia law in court. A New Jersey family court judge refused to issue a restraining order to a woman who alleged that her husband sexually assaulted her. The judge found that it was a case of sexual assault but said there was no criminal intent since the couple was Muslim and the husband believed, in accordance with Muslim law, that he could demand sex from his wife.

However, an appeals court overturned the ruling.

Tim Pawlenty on rates of economic growth projected in his economic plan: “And this idea that we can’t have 5 percent growth in America is hogwash. It’s a defeatist attitude.’’

The facts: This is a defense of Pawlenty’s economic plan. In his speech laying out the plan at the University of Chicago, Pawlenty said that between 1983 and 1987, in a recovery under President Reagan, the economy grew by 4.9 percent. Between 1996 and 1999 — under President Clinton — the economy grew at more than 4.7 percent.

Projections are impossible to prove or disprove. But historically, the United States has not been able to sustain a 5 percent growth rate.

According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the last time the United States surpassed a 5 percent annual growth in GDP was 7.2 percent growth in 1984, as part of the recovery following the recessions of 1980-1982. Between 1983 and 1987, growth ranged from 3.2 percent to 4.5 percent.

Mitt Romney on the auto bailout: “The bailout program was not a success because the bailout program wasted a lot of money. About $17 billion was used unnecessarily.’’

The facts: This argument is in accordance with Romney’s view that the auto industry should have gone through bankruptcy, and the government’s bailout was unnecessary. But it is also incomplete.

The total government bailout by Presidents Bush and Obama was around $80 billion. According to a report released by the White House June 1, the government expects to lose less than 20 percent of that — or around $16 billion. A White House adviser later said the loss is estimated at around $14 billion. (About $40 billion has been repaid.)

Interestingly, Romney’s statement actually targets Bush, though he criticizes Obama later in his answer.

According to the Romney campaign, the $17 billion he is referring to is the first $7 billion allocated by Bush to bail out General Motors and Chrysler — money given without requiring anything in return.

Romney’s advocacy of a managed bankruptcy is more similar to the plan President Obama implemented.