Friday, November 5, 2010

Group Sues to Stop Oklahoma's Anti-Sharia Constitutional Amendment

Muneer Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, filed for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction seeking to stop the State of Oklahoma from certifying state ballot question 755 and implementing the new anti-Sharia constitutional amendment.  CAIR's press release is here.

As we mentioned previously, Oklahoma's state ballot question 755 would amend the state constitution to ban the use of Sharia law in Oklahoma courts.  It reads in relevant part:

The [Oklahoma courts], when exercising their judicial authority, shall uphold and adhere to the law as provided in the United States Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, the United States Code, federal regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, established common law, the Oklahoma Statutes and rules promulgated pursuant thereto, and if necessary the law of another state of the United States provided the law of the other state does not include Sharia Law, in making judicial decisions.  The 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 measure passed by 70% to 30% in Tuesday's election.

Awad and CAIR argue that the provision violates both the Establishment Clause (under the Lemon test) and the Free Exercise Clause (under either strict scrutiny or rational basis review).  In short, they argue that the State's targeting of Sharia law will stigmatize Awad based on his faith and prevent him from enforcing his will (which references Sharia law) in Oklahoma state courts.  As to the Establishment Clause, they argue that the measure violates all three parts of the Lemon test: that it does not have a secular purpose, that its primary effect advances and inhibits religion, and that it fosters an excessive government entanglement with religion.  As to Free Exercise, they argue that the State doesn't even have a legitimate purpose in banning the use of Sharia law, except the bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group.  This is not enough to sustain the measure against Awad's challenge.  Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center; Romer v. Evans.


Comparative Constitutionalism, Courts and Judging, Elections and Voting, Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause, Fundamental Rights, News, Recent Cases, Religion, State Constitutional Law, Supremacy Clause | Permalink

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Isn't a more obvious problem with Oklahoma's xenophobic law that it violates the supremacy clause? And maybe the full faith and credit clause?

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Chad | Nov 6, 2010 9:21:59 PM

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