Oklahoma’s Ban on Sharia Law Declared Unconstitutional
OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal judge in Oklahoma City has thrown out the state’s ban on the use of Sharia law in government, opining that the restriction violates the United States Constitution.
The ban had been approved at the polls in 2010, and passed with the support of more than 70% of voters. However, just two days after the ban was approved as a state constitutional amendment, Muneer Awad, the then-director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed suit in federal court through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), claiming that the law violated the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment.
He was granted a temporary injunction days later, which was later upheld by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Thursday, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994, placed a permanent injunction against the ban, declaring it to be unconstitutional.
“While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out, the court finds that the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights,” she wrote. “[F]or the same reasons set forth by the Tenth Circuit, the court finds that defendants have failed to assert a compelling state interest and have, therefore, failed to satisfy strict scrutiny.”
Miles-LaGrange said that because Sharia law is not being imposed on the state at the time, it is not currently a threat to Oklahoma residents.
“[A]ny harm that would result from permanently enjoining the certification of the election results is further minimized in light of the undisputed fact that the amendment at issue was to be a preventative measure and that the concern that it seeks to address has yet to occur,” she stated.
Miles-LaGrange also agreed with Awad that the constitutional amendment was discriminatory against the Muslim religion. The state had argued during the court proceedings that there was no discrimination inherent in the ordinance.
“The plain and ordinary language of the above-quoted measure demonstrates the principle purpose of the measure is to ban Oklahoma courts from looking to the precepts of other nations or cultures. The reference to ‘international law or Sharia law’ is merely a subset of the reference to ‘precepts of other nations or cultures,’” it wrote in a legal brief submitted to the court. “The measure bans, equally, all laws from other nations or cultures, including, but not limited to international law and Sharia law.”
Current Oklahoma CAIR director Adam Soltani said that he was pleased with the decision.
“As Oklahomans, we are incredibly thrilled at the decision and applaud the judicial system for upholding our constitutional rights,” he stated following the ruling. “This is a victory not only for Oklahoma Muslims, but for all Oklahomans and all Americans.”
However, some were disturbed with the outcome of the case.
“Well, now it’s just a matter of time before the first leftist (or maybe way rightist – I’m not sure where it falls) judge bases his rulings on the Koran instead of the Constitution,” stated Broken Arrow resident Jonathan Schwarz. “Mark my words; it’s a matter of time.”
Six other states have passed similar legislation. Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma have all agreed to prohibit state government agencies from using Sharia and other foreign laws in their decision-making processes. As previously reported, legislators in Kansas overwhelmingly passed the bill last May, with a unanimous vote in the House and only three dissenters in the Senate.