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Oklahoma and Sharia Law

Sharia Law UKLast week the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver began hearing arguments on the Oklahoma voter-approved law that prohibits state courts and judges from considering international law or Sharia law when deciding cases. 

Voters overwhelmingly approved State Question 755 in November 2010 with 70 percent voting for passage.

The law states that “Oklahoma courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures.  Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law.  The provisions of this subsection shall apply to all cases before the respective courts including, but not limited to, cases of first impression.”

Muneer Awad, the executive director of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations, had filed the lawsuit challenging the constitutional amendment.  Awad says in his lawsuit that the measure transforms Oklahoma’s constitution into a condemnation of Islam by singling it out.

Naturally, the American Civil Liberties Union is backing the lawsuit.  Daniel Mach, the director of the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said, “The government should never play favorites with religions, and the ‘Save Our State Amendment’ does just that.  It effectively enshrines anti-Muslim bias into the Oklahoma Constitution.”

According to the ACLU’s webpage on the lawsuit, the attorney representing Oklahoma in the court proceedings “repeatedly sought to rewrite the amendment, arguing that it somehow doesn’t mean what it says.  The amendment, Oklahoma argued to the three-judge appellate panel, doesn’t target a particular religion, but instead mentions Sharia only by way of clarification or illustration.”

If that description of Oklahoma’s argument to the court is accurate, I’m not optimistic about the outcome of these proceedings.   With the panel of judges in this case including one George W. Bush appointee, a Carter appointee and an Obama appointee, I will be very surprised if the plaintiff does not prevail.

The measure as passed by Oklahoma voters was one of the first actions at the state level to focus on Sharia Law and attempt to prohibit its consideration in state court cases.  I’ve read that more than twenty other states are considering similar measures and are likely watching this case closely.

Legal experts say the measure is unnecessary and that courts only consider international law when deciding issues involving a federal treaty, a business contract or a will that incorporates international law.

If it’s unnecessary then why is CAIR working so hard to block it?

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